The current King of Pancrase is riding a 4 fight winning streak with notable wins over the names such as Takafumi Otsuka, Victor Henry, Johnathan Brookins and Rafael Silva. Many thought that he was just a phone call away from the UFC, but Ishiwatari has decided to participate in RIZIN’s world GP.
“For me, it’s all about me beating tough, international fighters. Now that there is a platform where tough international fighters are coming to, there is no need for me to fight outside of Japan.” Said the humble but confident champion. The 32 year old has an impressive 22-6-4 professional record, but there is one particular loss that he would like to get revenge on.
Shintaro Ishiwatari and Kyoji Horiguchi have met in the cage back in 2013 under the VTJ platform, where they put on a brawl of the year, with Horiguchi stopping Ishiwatari at 41 seconds into the 5th round.
“I’ve been watching his fights after I lost”, he says about the former UFC title challenger. “I study off of his fights, to make myself a better fighter. Most fighters have a time period where you hit a wall and stop improving, a time where you struggle. But he just continues to evolve like simple math. His fight IQ is high, his overall skill levels are high, and there is a lot to learn from him.”
The 11th year veteran has pretty much seen everything in the Japanese MMA scene and has established himself as one of the top Bantamweights in Japan. Yet he is still looking for new things to improve his game. “I think this sport is still evolving at an extremely fast rate, and new techniques and skills are being born every day. I think it is important to keep up with the rest of the world. I don’t think my technique is out of date, but I am always curious of new skill, even executed by lower profile fighters.”
Ishiwatari will be facing Fight Night Global’s newcomer Akhmed Musakaev in the opening round of the Grand Prix on October 15th at the Marine Messe Fukuoka Arena.