Takumi Tamaru faces Tatsuya Ando at Shooto 0801 this weekend. The Pacific Rim bantamweight title will be on the line and the 24 year old gave an in depth interview to MMA Planet discussing the upcoming fight and his plans and ambitions.

Tamaru is six years younger than Ando. The age gap appears to have been a bit of a talking point and he has a few words of warning for the fighters in their 30s who currently dominate the division,

“I was told by Ryo Okada that I was just a kid but if being 24 makes me a kid then being over 30 makes him a old man!”

Tamaru holds an impressive 11-1-1 record. He moved up to 135lbs after struggling to make the flyweight limit and feels right at home in this division,

“When I was a flyweight I had to cope with all the frustration and the stress from cutting weight, but since I became a bantamweight that is no longer an issue.”

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Multiple champions

Shooto currently has multiple bantamweight champions and it has caused some confusion outside of Japan. Tamaru says the situation is not ideal from a fighter’s perspective either,

“I am aiming to be the Shooto world champion but at present Shoko Sato is the regular champion and Ryo Okada is the interim champion. I think the situation is confusing.”

Sato has established himself as a top bantamweight contender with ONE Championship. It is a route that Tamaru would not mind taking,

“I want to be a Shooto world champion anyway but if it takes a long time I am ready to face strong opponents in other organizations.”

Ando has already challenged for the interim title once. He failed by the narrowest of margins, fighting to a draw with Ryo Okada at Shooto 30th Anniversary Tour 7th Round.

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Freedom fighter

Sato looks set to challenge Bibiano Fernandes for the bantamweight title once lockdown restrictions are eased. Tamaru wouldn’t be surprised to see him return his Shooto belt but doesn’t mind who he faces as long as there is a world title on the line,

“I think Sato has thought about returning the Shooto belt. But if I can challenge for the title  I don’t mind if it’s against Sato or Okada as long as there is a world title on the line.”

First of all he needs to overcome Ando on Friday. Tamaru would not go into any detail about his preparation or tactics for this bout,

“I think that it is okay to not break down the things that I have been doing. I like to fight with a lot of freedoms and I think that is one of my main weapons.”

At the age of 24 time is very much on Tamaru’s side. Both the Shooto bantamweight champions are significantly older and the new kid on the block hopes winning the Pacific Rim belt on Saturday will be enough to earn him a world title shot.