JMMA Monday: Ougikubo’s One Big Goal

Hiromasa Ougikubo looks focused in a fighter stance while inside the RIZIN cage.
Hiromasa Ougikubo has one big goal in mind: beat Kyoji Horiguchi (RIZIN FF)

There are few people in the world who can say they have beaten Hiromasa Ougikubo.

The pro has fought more than 30 times since debuting in 2006. Along the way, just five of those fights have seen him suffer a loss.

But of those losses, few have not since been avenged.

The year is 2009 and Koetsu Okazaki just handed Ougikubo his first defeat. However, three years later, Ougikubo would even the score between them with a third-round rear naked choke victory.

In 2010, Eduardo Dantas beat Ogikubo in what became his second loss. He has yet to face Dantas again, with him launching his Bellator career shortly after.

More recently, in 2020, Kai Asakura stopped him in the first round of a title fight. But on New Year’s Eve last year, Ougikubo went the distance to defeat him on scorecards and win the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix.

Then there is Kyoji Horiguchi. The UFC, Bellator and RIZIN alum has beat him not once, but twice. Their first meeting was back on the regional scene in 2013. Their second fight, five years later, came on the RIZIN stage.

Horiguchi could very well be considered the Ougikubo slayer.

Because of this, it’s no surprise that Horiguchi is what Ougikubo wants more than anything else. More than any title or award in combat sports.

“He has punched me in the face so many times,” said Ougikubo in an interview with Knockdown News. “I need to get back at him. That’s just how I am.”

Ougikubo states that a fight against Horiguchi is the biggest goal he has in his career right now. Along with that, he also aims to compete abroad for Bellator in the future (which, coincidentally, is where Horiguchi is currently signed).

It’s hard to get a third fight against someone after losing to them twice. A trilogy is often only needed as a tiebreaker – hence under that logic not making it necessary here. But Ougikubo feels he is currently at his prime as a fighter, earning him a third chance.

“I feel like I’m at the peak of my career … now is the right time for me to pursue these goals.”

Hiromasa Ougikubo raises his arms in celebration while inside the RIZIN ring.
Hiromasa Ougikubo fought four times in 2021 to win the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix (RIZIN FF)

Recent results from Ougikubo show that he is certainly on a roll. He is coming off a historic 2021, where he scored four wins to reach the top of the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix.

There wasn’t much attention on Ougikubo as he went into New Year’s Eve, where the final two rounds of the bracket took place. Kai Asakura, a former champion of the division, was favored to win the bracket. And on top of that, rising star Naoki Inoue was coming down the stretch still undefeated in his promotional run.

Ougikubo beat them both in the same night.

The experience of winning the tournament is something that Ougikubo says is his second-biggest moment as a fighter (his first was when he won the Shooto title back in 2012).

“That moment felt surreal. It felt really good, you know? Obviously a lot of people were thinking is going to be Asakura or Inoue winning this tournament. And with all that being said, me going in there and winning it all just felt good.”

The tournament saw Ougikubo overcome many of the division’s top names, and made him the main character of JMMA’s biggest night of the year. It narrowed him down to the few goals he has as a fighter.

Hiromasa Ougikubo poses with a photo of Kim Soo-chul.
Ougikubo’s next assignment is at RIZIN 38 (RIZIN FF)

Before he can get to Horiguchi, Ougikubo has a tough test that cannot be ignored. He’s scheduled to compete at RIZIN 38 later this month, facing Road FC champion Kim Soo-chul.

Kim currently is one of the top talents coming out of Korea. He regained status as featherweight titleholder in May, rematching Park Hae-jin and picking up a second-round finish win.

Kim is a respected opponent who has the chance to derail Ougikubo’s road toward Horiguchi this month.

“I always want to face tough competition,” said Ougikubo. “So when I got the offer for Soo Chul Kim, I was very excited.”

Ougikubo is currently in camp and focused on his upcoming fight. However, he did take a short detour last week to get married.

Hiromasa Ougikubo raises his arm, along with an arm of his wife, in celebration while in the RIZIN ring.
Hiromasa Ougikubo celebrates alongside his wife after winning the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix (RIZIN FF)

The wedding was attended by Ougikubo’s training partners from Paraestra Matsudo, showing his close, family-like ties to the gym. And because he is preparing to reach the 134-pound limit on September 24th, he admittedly drank and ate very little at his own celebration.

But it’s all worth it for Ougikubo. He says the community of training partners and his life partner are a big motivating factor for how he performs.

“Leading up to a fight and even during a fight, I believe that I’m not fighting alone,” he said. “It feels like I’m fighting with my wife [alongside me] and we are in this together.”

Ougikubo will take all the energy he needs later this month when he aims to keep his winning streak alive. And after that, he might start campaigning to get a fight against one of the few names that can say they have won in all of their appearances against him.

Other Notes From The Week

  • RIZIN held a press conference last week, announcing more changes to their September 25th show.
  • This weekend was a big one for the regional scene!
    • Akira became the new interim Pancrase lightweight champion this weekend, stopping Koshi Matsumoto in the third round with strikes.
      • That continues an incredibly strong run for Akira as of late. Don’t sleep on him!
      • Rei Tsuruya remained undefeated in a tough step-up test in Masatatsu Ueda, finishing him within a round with strikes. That guy is no joke and certainly one to watch.
      • And current strawweight champ Karen stopped Momoka Hoshuyama in a non-title bout.
      • GONG’s report.
    • The main focus at DEEP’s latest card was the continuation of their flyweight grand prix. Yutaro Muramoto, Ryuya Fukuda, Yuto Uda and Takashi Matsuba advanced in their respective bouts.
    • Over at DEEP Jewels: 18-year-old MMA prospect Moeri Suda controlled Aya Murakami for three rounds to earn a unanimous decision win. Suda is now back into the win column after losing to Saori Oshima in May. The fight was also Murakami’s first pro loss through five appearances!
      • Also at DEEP Jewels: HIME absolutely ran through Yuko Kiryu, stopping her in just 37 seconds with strikes.
      • What else… Mizuki Furuse scored a win. Kate Lotus snapped her losing streak. Mika Nagano submitted winless pro Tomoko Inoue. And Smoker’s Gym talent Aoi Kuriyama got back into the win column against Te-a.
      • GONG was on-site and has more deets. So does MMA Rising!
  • There are no major events this weekend. The next big show is Shooto Japan’s September 19th event in Korakuen. The show is next week on a Monday, but I’ll talk about it here since it will be too late to talk about it once the next “JMMA Monday” rolls around.
    • A strawweight title fight between Junji Ito and Jo Arai will headline the show. Ito will be defending his belt for the first time since gaining it off Ryohei Kurosawa in 2021.
    • Prospect Watch™: Former freestyle wrestler turned MMA fighter Chihiro Sawada will look for her third pro win when facing Haruna Kato. Also, Krazy Bee talent Soo Sung Cho will make his Shooto Japan debut. He’s undefeated with two wins as it stands.
    • Hisae Watanabe is also back. Here’s the Tapology lineup.
  • RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara did an interview with GONG that includes some interesting details.
    • The promotion is planning on holding a numbered event in October, with a featherweight title fight between Juntaro Ushiku and Kleber Koike headlining the card.
      • This matchup is a long-awaited one, as Koike has been considered the top threat at 145-pounds for some time now.
    • He also said that the promotion’s “TRIGGER” series is on hold for now. The show’s top sponsor, Potential, is in hot water right now after its CEO was arrested on fraud charges.
      • Sakakibara revealed that the plan was to hold one more “TRIGGER” show later this year, but now that is unlikely to happen.
      • The most interesting thing about “TRIGGER” was that RIZIN did the events in a cage instead of ring. I wonder if a cage will be seen on a numbered card or “LANDMARK” show if the “TRIGGER” series won’t return.
  • Veteran boxer and MMA fighter Raika will make her Shooto Japan debut soon, facing Kim So-yul at the promotion’s September 19th Korakuen Hall show.
    • Raika is making the move to Shooto after an extensive run in Pancrase. Kim, a fighter with a kickboxing background, enters this fight with a record of five wins and one loss.
  • Pancrase announced that it will wrap up its 2022 schedule with a show on December 25th. That event will take place from the Yokohama Budokan, which is a pretty venue that only opened two years ago.
  • Around The Web – The section where we share cool stuff and show some love to friends of the column!
  • As we always do, I’ll end the notes on a fun note. Floyd Mayweather’s main bodyguard was interviewed by Abema after he shoved Mikuru Asakura during a press conference just over a week ago.
    • He had some rather harsh things to say about Asakura…
    • Surprisingly, he also has beef with Kouzi, of all people! Referring back to when Kouzi mocked Tenshin Nasukawa with a cutout of Mayweather’s face in 2020, he called him a “clown.” He wants to fight Kouzi, despite being some 200-something pounds heavier than him.
    • This is obviously dumb and not to be taken seriously… But is at least funny to watch.

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