After 23 years Caol Uno still thrives on challenging himself
There is no quit in Japanese legend Caol Uno, even after 23 years of competing in mixed martial arts. The veteran, who fights for Shooto tomorrow, embraces the incorporeal principles of budō.
The aforementioned term translates as ‘martial way,’ and it describes the practices of modern Japanese martial arts. By following them, the 44-year-old Kanagawa native has evolved as an athlete and reached some of the biggest stages in the sport,
“Budō is about balancing happiness and pain, and knowing their purpose. Winning brings happiness, but losing brings sadness,” he explained.
“People who win and progress will need to be kind. People who lose will need to put in the effort to get back up and try again to become a winner. Those attributes can be learned in this old Japanese principle.”
Uno has carried these ideas with him since he first started to hone his skills as a child, and they helped him to progress from enjoying early successes in Japan to strutting his wares against the best competitors all over the world.
Whenever he won a match, Uno took the time to reflect on his experience in order to level up before the next time he stepped under the lights. He also passed on what he learned to others to help them improve as well.
“Whether in life or sports, learning is continuous. Aside from that, you need to be kind and help those weaker than you,” he said.
“I think that’s the kind of spirit that budō teaches in martial arts and in life. I think it’s important to teach all walks of life that kind of attitude.”
However Uno’s career has had downs as well as ups over the course of the last 23 years. The veteran had to watch his opponent’s hand being raised several times, but he has never let that stop him on his quest for glory.
Drive and hunger
Uno knows that defeat is inevitable in MMA where perfect records are not protected, and fighters are put to the test every time they strap on four-ounce gloves.
According to the two-time UFC lightweight title challenger and former Shooto lightweight champion, the key is to accept those setbacks and use them to learn and develop.
“It’s about maintaining your drive and hunger. Also, you have to welcome changes and challenges. In this sport, you’ll experience highs and lows. Of course, losing might make your ambition falter, but you gain something significant by losing. I’ve learned a lot by losing. It’s not the end when you lose,” Uno stated.
“You stack those losses up, and what you get in return are a new perspective and great lessons. I know that from experience. By understanding that, I’m able to maintain my ambition and the courage to continue my career. That’s why I am still here,” he added.
Uno will fight for the 59th time this Sunday. He is slated to lock horns with German Markus Held in a three-round featherweight encounter at Shooto 30th Anniversary Tour 8th Round, which takes place at the iconic Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
He has not won a single bout since April 2016 when he submitted Jung Ho Hwang in the second round with a rear-naked choke. In addition, he lost four of his last five outings, including a unanimous decision defeat to Duane van Helvoirt at Shooto 30th Anniversary Tour in May.
Uno is coming to the tail-end of his illustrious career but he has learned from 58 previous battles and is confident of beating the young German,
“I think once you start to lose the fire to compete, it is your sign to retire and say goodbye. Whether you win or lose, it’s important to think about further improving yourself. I still feel that, even at my age. I’ll keep going as long as I have that mindset,” he shared.
Uno believes his opponent is primarily a grappler. But he is confident of tasting victory in the MMA ring for the first time since 2016,
“My opponent likes to have the fight on the ground. It’s fine with me. I am ready for anything. I plan to attack with a mix of striking and ground game. He is young, but he hasn’t faced someone like me,” he warned.