Shuya Kamikubo has won four fights out of four for ONE Championship, establishing himself as a top contender in the bantamweight division. The 24 year old has gone the distance on the last three occasions but he makes no apologies for his style,

“I think most fans like the Muay Thai guys and strikers in ONE. I can strike, but my style is grappling and jiu-jitsu (and) I want to show how natural my grappling is.”

The once beaten Kamikubo has youth on his side. His 11-1-1 record is among the best in the division and he takes a lot of satisfaction from dominating a 15 minute fight from start to finish,

“It’s not just about going for the submission finish, it’s about making your opponent give up. I always fight to overwhelm my opponents and I want to be that guy who makes them feel that they don’t want to fight me.”

Shuya Kamikubo 2

Dominant displays

None of the three ONE Championship fights in which Kamikubo has gone the distance have been close contests. Most recently he controlled BJJ black belt Bruno Pucci from start to finish at ONE: ‘Edge of Greatness’.

He did the same thing to Dae Hwan Kim at ONE: ‘Clash of Legends’ and Kamikubo also frustrated Muhammad Aiman for 15 minutes at ONE: ‘Heart of the Lion’. The Japanese fighter hopes his next match will be against another top contender,

“There’s no one, in particular, I’d like to face, but if it’s someone strong, I’ll get fired up for it. Maybe someone like Yusup Saadulaev, who has also beaten Dae Hwan Kim. I don’t know who is going to challenge Bibiano Fernandes next, but anyone up there in that mix would be good.”

Shoko Sato was rumoured to be next in line for a shot at Fernandes, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday. Everything is on hold for the time being but Kamikubo says he is staying in shape,

“I’m always training to increase my skills whether I have a match lined up or not.”

Shuya Kamikubo flying knee

Perfect start

This hard working philosophy paid off handsomely for Kamikubo when he was offered the opportunity to make his ONE Championship at late notice. The offer came came barely a month before the show but for a fighter who is always training it was more than enough time,

“It was surprisingly sudden. I had less than four weeks to prepare (and) it had been a while since my last match, but I had another fight overseas which got canceled so the timing was right,” he said.

Kamikubo made the perfect start to life with the promotion at ONE: ‘Battle for the Heavens’. He beat the experienced Sunoto and did it inside the distance, finishing the Indonesian late in the second round.

Shuya Kamikubo punches Sunoto

Top contender

His most recent match was a potential banana skin. A match against a BJJ black belt and multiple time no-gi grappling world champion looked to be a tricky one, stylistically speaking.

Would Kamikubo’s wrestling and grappling based style be enough to beat a decorated submission specialist like Pucci? The answer was an emphatic ‘yes’ and the Japanese fighter says it was simply a case of putting his training techniques into practice,

“Most recently, when I faced Bruno Pucci, I was able to use all of my tools and what I’d done in training. During the match, I was able to keep calm and adjust as necessary.”

Perhaps Kamikubo feels his recent performances don’t warrant an immediate title shot. He has won four fights in a row for ONE Championship, and contenders have been handed a match with the champion for less.

Kamikubo might not be the most entertaining fighter on the roster but if he keeps on winning it will be impossible to deny his credentials as the number one contender to Fernandes’ crown.