NISHIJIMA IS READY FOR "CYBORG" SANTOS
09/06/2006

Yousuke Nishijima held a public training session at Takada Dojo in Musashikoyama, Tokyo on September 4th. Nishijima will face Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos in a non-tournament bout at PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE 2006, the Open Weight Grand Prix tournament, on September 10th in Saitama Super Arena.


Nishijima's public training session began with light shadow boxing. With only his hands bandaged, Nishijima seemed to be checking each movement as he punched. Once warmed up, Nishijima began sparring with fellow Takada Dojo fighter Iwamiya Tomoyoshi. Iwamiya, a wrestler, shot for a tackle but Nishijima defended. Iwamiya pulled guard but Nishijima followed up with Chute Boxe trademarks such pounding and stomps that would put Cyborg to shame. Nishijima also showed off his single-leg takedowns and arm-locks, giving the impression that he has improved his overall MMA abilities. Asked about his current condition, Nishijima replied that he "feels very good." The reason for that is Nishijima's trainer, Patty Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick was Nishijima's boxing coach when Nishijima was training in America from 1997 to 1998. According to Nishijima, he has devoted most of his time to MMA training since joining PRIDE and most of his boxing training has been done solo. "When I train alone, though, I have no way to tell if I'm doing something wrong," Nishijima said, recognized that there are limits to training by yourself, even if you are a former World Champion.
Nishijima has restarted his man-to-man boxing training with Fitzpatrick for the past two weeks. Wearing ordinary boxing gloves rather than open-finger gloves, Nishijima's worked on the punching mitts and sparring. It may look like concentrating on boxing so near to a mixed martial arts match may be disruptive to a fighter's training but Fitzpatrick, who has also trained Bas Rutten, explained otherwise, "My main job is to get Nishijima back to the condition he was in three years ago. He's not all the way back yet but if he keeps sparring like this, I think he will recover completely."
Thinking back on his previous fights, Nishijima agreed. "I was in my best shape then. Compared to that time, my conditioning now isn't good. My conditioning is getting better and my boxing skills are improving." Not only was it important for Nishijima to improve his technical skills and his conditioning, but he also needed also needed a boxing trainer to do it. "My balance when punching has improved. Thanks to that, it's harder for my opponents to take me down," Nishijima said, revealing a secondary bonus of his boxing training. Touching back on his boxing roots has been good for Nishijima.
Nishijima also said strongly that fighters who come straight forward, like Cyborg, are his best opponents. "It's easier for me to fight someone that comes straight forward punching. I will be looking for counters." Now that Nishijima has found his old boxing rhythm, will he be able to send Cyborg to the mat?