Koshi Matsumoto will make his promotional debut at Pancrase 319 this Sunday. The Shooto lightweight champion has been booked to face Hiroto Uesako.

It will be Matsumoto’s first fight since October. He was booked to compete against Takashi Matsuoka at Pancrase 314 and Pancrase 317 only for both events to be cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Matsumoto’s year might not have gone according to plan but he is grateful for the opportunity to compete again,

“Due to the coronavirus it (my Pancrase debut) has been postponed three times and my opponent has changed but I’m very grateful to Pancrase for being consistent. Even with all of that, I’ve been able to train without a break so it feels good to finally get to test myself.”

Rizin

Different perspective 

Matsumoto continued training throughout even when restrictions meant he had to do so alone. This experience has given him a different perspective,

“Back in March and April we couldn’t really see how things were going so I had to train on my own for a short time. Because of that, I had time to think for myself, try new things and train with a new style. I looked again at my past fights objectively, looking for my holes or where I’m lacking.”

It was also an opportunity for the Shooto lightweight champion to review some old fight footage,

“From the outside, I scrutinized my fights, so that when I could spar again, I could do some problem shooting. I feel I was able to see and change a lot.”

ONE Championship

New challenge

Matsumoto is a veteran of 31 fights and the majority of them have taken place under the Shooto banner. The 37 year old says Pancrase represents a new challenge,

“Well, joining the promotion is a challenge for me, I’m expecting something new. It’ll be like a chemical reaction, a fresh new fusion for me, and I’ve got a great opponent. It’s a match the fans wouldn’t normally see.”

He is facing an opponent who also has plenty of experience. Matsumoto believes Uesako’s greatest threat is his ‘killer instinct’,

“His fight record is similar to mine, he’s gathered a lot of experience and he has a lot of KOs. He’s definitely a fight finisher. Watching his fights in Pancrase and Rizin, even if he gets caught he fires back hard so I have to be most wary of that. He’s got good attacks and he’s able to use them with a killer instinct. That’s the biggest thing.”

ONE Championship

Grinding away

For a fighter used to competing regularly the break has been unexpected and unwelcome. But Matsumoto has taken the opportunity to ‘reinvent’ himself and hopes the results will be there for all to see on Sunday,

“I haven’t been able to fight this year so far, but I’ve been grinding away at training, building myself up. The past is behind me, and I’ve reinvented myself. I’m hoping the fans will see that, and I’m also looking forward to what I can do.”