Kleber Koike was born in Brazil but is based permanently in Japan. He has mainly been facing local fighters on the road to becoming the promotion’s featherweight champion.

But that will all change at Rizin 40. He will be representing the Japanese promotion against a foreign opponent when he takes on reigning Bellator featherweight champion Patrício Freire.

Koike has been training at Phuket Fight Club to prepare for this contest and has been working hard on his striking skills in the land of Muay Thai,

”In Japan I’d feel too much pressure. I have to teach, take care of the family and my business. So many distractions from training. In Thailand I can focus 100%,” he explained.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kleber Koike (@kleber_koike)

Different level

Kleber has submitted every opponent he has ever faced in the Rizin ring. But the Brazilian knows it wont be quite as easy against Freire and says he is preparing for a striking match,

“It won’t be easy taking him down to the ground. I’m going to have to strike with him at some point.”

Kleber might have won seven fights out of seven for Rizin by submission. But he knows that he will have to perform at a higher level when he takes on the Bellator featherweight champion,

“I made a mistake in the fight against Sasaki, I made a mistake against Asakura, against Hahiwara too but I was able to adjust. My next opponent is a superb fighter, one mistake will cost me the fight. One mistake and I’m dead.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kleber Koike (@kleber_koike)

New style

To prepare for that fight he has been looking to level up. Relocating to Phuket was part of this process and he thought is it will help him to evolve and improve,

“I can work on a different style here, I want to get better.”

Six of his seven Rizin fights have been against Japanese opponents. But Kleber is expecting to have the crowd at Saitama Super Arena firmly behind him when he faces the Bellator representative,

“The best thing about this upcoming fight is that I’ll be representing Japan, I get messages all the time on social media which motivates me.”

Kleber will be taking on a Brazilian for the first time in his career. But he feels he is representing Japan and is determined to defeat a champion from the American promotion,

“If I win the world will know that Japanese MMA is strong.”