FEB 22, 2006 - Yousuke Nishijima held a public-training session on February 19th at Takada Dojo, in advance of his MMA debut on February 26th at PRIDE 31 UNBREAKABLE. Nishijima has been training in America and Holland for his debut fight against Mark Hunt (Oceania Super Fighter Gym) and showed off his ability to adapt to both standing and ground fighting, giving hope to the fans of this newcomer.

The sounds of Nishijima's Heavyweight punches were clearly different than those of other fighters.
Even Nishijima's jab gave off a tremendous sense of power as he struck the mitts held by Takada Dojo's Wataru Takahashi. Even more surprising than the power of his punches were his combinations and speed. Although Nishijima weighs more than 90 kilograms, his punches were so fast that they could be mistaken for those of a Lightweight. The time between punches was frighteningly short as he repeated combinations 2 and 3 times. After his mitt work, Nishijima showed his boxer-like movements in some light sparring. Using his jabs to measure distance, he connected punches to his opponent's body and face. Even Nishijima's jabs caused great problems for Takahashi. Just through mitt-work and light sparring, something about Nishijima is clearly different.



Then the grappling sparring began. Nishijima continuously avoided double-leg takedowns by Takada Dojo's Tomoyoshi Iwamiya, an experienced amateur wrestler. Nishijima showed little of the holding-down tactics used by fighters that have just jumped into MMA. He was able to maintain control of his opponent when attacking on the ground and showed an understanding of the basic, yet vital, skills necessary.
Nishijima was originally supposed to train with Matt Hume in American until the fight. However, Nishijima cut his training in America short, and traveled to Holland for last-minute training.

"I've got a strategy for Hunt and I wanted to study kickboxing," Nishijima explained his move. Nishijima trained at legendary Lucien Carbin's Carbin Gym. Carbin has trained other PRIDE fighters such as Alistair Overeem. Fedor Emelianenko has also used his gym for special pre-fight training.

Nishijima sparred with not only Alistair but also former K-1 Champion Remy Bonjasky. At Carbin's gym, Nishijima trained more on knee kicks rather than punches and received some of the best training possible, in the best environment possible, in preparation for his MMA debut fight. Nishijima has already created a secret strategy for Hunt but refused to discuss it before the fight.
Asked if he was excited or nervous about his debut fight, Nishijima immediately responded, "I'm excited because I will be able to test my abilities." Nishijima is not a big talker, though. He's normally a man of few words so those that he does speak carry a heavy meaning. Even Sakuraba vouched for Nishijima's abilities, "His striking ability is on a completely different level than anyone else I've ever worked out with. I can only get 2 or 3 tackles out of 10 tries and he's strong on the ground, too. If Nishijima fights at his own pace, he can definitely beat Hunt." Nishijima gave off a sense of strong confidence in his training session and Sakuraba also recognized his abilities. There is less than 1 week until Nishijima will make his debut as a mixed martial artist.

Kazushi Sakuraba's Comments

We sparred together a lot. Nishijima has fast punches and everyone has trouble holding on to him. He's physically strong on the ground and it's tough to submit him. I couldn't tackle him today. I can only get 2 or 3 tackles out of 10 tries.
Of course, you would expect his punches to be quick but his reactions after he punches are quick, too. And his footwork. The way he moves to the side is difficult to fight against. Vovchanchyn has that one-punch KO but Nishijima, for example, would hit you with 4 or 5 more right after that. His striking level is different than anybody that is fighting in MMA or has ever fought in MMA.
His punchesthey hurt. (laughing) His punches go all the way to the core of your body. You can't do anything about it.
If Nishijima fights at his own pace, he can definitely beat Hunt. Hunt is heavier and if Hunt gets the top position on the ground, it will be difficult but Nishijima is strong and I think he'll be fine.