Genpei Hayashi has had to wait a while for his lightweight title fight with Tatsuya Saika to happen. It has been postponed several times but the 30 year old is far from frustrated.

In fact he feels he has a better chance of beating Saika now than he did when the fight was first booked in February,

“For me it’s been a huge plus. I’ve been able to use the time well.”

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Collective experience

The two will finally face off at Pancrase 318 on Sunday. Hayashi has been training with the likes of Yushin Okami, Ken Hasegawa and Tatsuya Mizuno and feels their collective experience has helped take his game to the next level,

“I’ve been able to train with Japanese fighters who’ve fought at the world class level. My skills have improved, but the biggest has been my will power, my drive has really increased. I’m really grateful for and fortunate with my training environment, and I feel like I’m heading in a good direction. If I want to aim for world class level I’m in the right place.”

Both fighters are renowned for their striking but with a title on the line Hayashi is realistic when assessing how the fight will play out,

“He likes striking too, so I think he’ll keep coming with punches. His boxing is very accurate, so he might be looking for counterpunches. Still, it’s a title match and whatever happens, when we hit the fourth and fifth rounds, we both want the belt, so I don’t think it’ll be just striking.”

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

All guns blazing

However he fully expects his opponent to come out all guns blazing and look for the early finish,

“Saika is looking for the first round KO, but on the other hand I’ve got a strong chin. It could go either way, but if I can take punishment, I’ll get him in the end. I think it’s going to be an exciting fight.”

It is less than two years since Hayashi was competing in the middleweight division. Results didn’t go his way but he feels the time spent competing with 185lbers toughened him up,

“Moving up to middleweight for a time was big for me. I have quite a lot more power now, and I think it’s made me tougher.”

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Fierce battle

Hayashi has not fought yet this year. He earned the title shot with back to back wins in 2019 but is returning after a lengthy layoff.

He made his debut in 2012 and is a veteran of 19 fights. Fans are familiar with Hayashi’s style, he has no intention of changing it and says Saika should expect a ‘fierce battle’ on Sunday,

“I’m a brawler so it’s going to be a fierce battle.”