Rinya Nakamura has all the tools to make a big splash in the UFC. The Japanese fighter spent the majority of his career as a wrestler and is undefeated since transitioning to MMA in 2020.

Now 28 years-old, he’s already in his prime years and hasn’t got time to waste. He delivered a dominant display to take a unanimous decision win over Fernie Garcia at UFC Singapore last weekend.

The Shooto veteran had multiple submission attempts and landed some huge shots but was unable to put away the resilient Texan. Speaking to media afterwards he said,

“I feel so big expectations about the UFC so I really wanted to finish him and prepared many ways but I couldn’t so I’m not satisfied by (the) performance. I promise you, next time I’m in the octagon it’s going to be a different fight.”


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Tougher than expected

But Nakamura believes there were extenuating circumstances behind his inability to close the show. He thinks that most opponents would have been unable to absorb as much punishment,

“He was tougher than I expected. Head kick twice and (still) standing! What’s going on with that?”

Nakamura has a bit of work to do in order to break into the bantamweight rankings but he wants to take on a former champion next,

“I want to ask many fans, who is going to fight with me? Cody Garbrandt will be such a nice match-up. I’m kind of scared about him. Honestly! So let’s make a nice fight,” he said.

He is one of two undefeated Japanese fighters on the UFC roster. The other is Tatsuro Taira and even though the flyweight is younger than him Nakamura says he is something of a role model,

“He is a big leader so I’m going to follow him. I want to be a champion with him,” said Nakamura.

New ambition

Nakamura hails from Saitama and the UFC put on five events there last decade. Nakamura clearly attended some of them and says they inspired him to learn English as well as MMA,

“I admired this sport for a long time so I prepared when I was in high school when I saw the UFC in Saitama Super Arena. I tried to brush up my English skills. Also wrestling, striking, everything,” said Nakamura.

He had dreamed of fighting for Pride. But when the UFC purchased the promotion his ambition immediately pivoted,

“Honestly, I really wanted to be a Pride star because it’s a Japanese organization. When the UFC brought Pride so I decide, ‘okay, I’m going to be a UFC star’. I really like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.”

Nakamura’s English skills are nearly as impressive as his wrestling. Following his first official UFC win the 28 year old summarized the situation as,

“One Samurai has begun his climb on this huge mountain.”