Hiroto Uesako has been handed headlining duties at Pancrase 319 this Sunday. The former Deep featherweight champion will be looking for his third straight win for the promotion.

Not everything has been going Uesako’s way though. He is coming off stoppage losses at Rizin 19 and Bellator Japan and wants to bounce back with a win over Koshi Matsumoto this weekend,

“I’ve had a rough patch lately but I want to show my real strength and give a solid win, I need to show my spirit.”

Unbreakable heart

Yusuke Yachi and Hiroto Uesako 5


While winning is paramount Uesako is willing to contemplate the possibility of failure. However the 33 year old promises he will not be found wanting when it comes to matters of effort or application,

“I don’t want to lose because of a weak heart. I don’t mind losing to anything except my spirit. So I want to go in with an unbreakable heart.”

Uesako has not fought since that Bellator Japan loss to Yusuke Yachi last December. A lot has changed since then but the former Deep featherweight champion says he hasn’t had to make any major adjustments,

“I haven’t really changed the way I train but I’ve been working over my strategy and weaving it into my fight style.”

Yusuke Yachi and Hiroto Uesako 4


Aggressive style

Uesako rarely goes the distance. He has an aggressive style and says he simply enjoys making it striking match,

“It’s not that I don’t like grappling. It’s more that I like striking, it fits what I want to show and that’s how I want to fight.”

Matsumoto will be retuning to Pancrase after a nine year absence. In the interim he has earned the Shooto lightweight strap and Uesako acknowledges that his opponent is well rounded,

“He’s a high level all-rounder and he’s relentless. I imagine he’ll bring his grappling, he has a strong heart, he’s a Shooto champion and he’s now in Pancrase to get his revenge on (Takasuke) Kume. He’s strong for sure but I want to show him that it’s not going to be that easy at this level.”

Yusuke Yachi and Hiroto Uesako

Willing adversary

Uesako’s record reflects the fact that he tends to either stop his opponent or get stopped. He doesn’t see Sunday’s fight playing out any differently,

“It’s not going to be calm. From the first round I’m going to give him a hard time, it’ll be hammer and tongs.”

He sees a willing adversary in the shape of Matsumoto. Uesako expects the Shooto lightweight champion to meet him in the middle of the cage.

“He’ll also be trying to put the pressure on me, but I’m ready with the same. I’m looking forward to it.”

Yusuke Yachi and Hiroto Uesako 3


Highly experienced

Both men are highly experienced and have won titles with other promotions. They are two experienced mixed martial artists but it is clear from hearing Uesako speak that pride will be at stake,

“I’m prepared to show that I won’t back down. I want to press the action, break him down and win.”

The last time Uesako lost back to back fights was in 2012. He went on to win his next six fights and the 33 year old will be looking to spark a similar career turnaround at Pancrase 319.