Daiju Takase came up the hard way. He made his debut at Pride 3 against an opponent who was more than 400 lbs heavier than him and his third fight was against Jeremy Horn at UFC 21. Nowadays a fighter would need to work his way through a series of lower level opponents and run up a respectable record before being expected to face fighters of this calibre but Takase began his career in a completely different era.
As a result he does not have the best record in the world of mixed martial arts but he has faced the likes of Hector Lombard, Carlos Newton, Hayato Sakurai, Rodrigo Gracie and Nate Marquardt, Most famously he is one of only four men to have beaten Anderson Silva who he submitted with a triangle choke at Pride 26.
Despite having begun his professional career back in 1998 Takase is still only 33, three years younger than the UFC Middleweight champion he once defeated. After not competing in MMA at all in 2011 he has signed with DARE Championships, a fledgling promotion in Thailand, and will be competing in their 16 man middleweight tournament.
He answered some questions about his incredible MMA journey and his upcoming fight with American Brandon Kesler at DARE Championship 1/12 this Saturday night.
Your record is 9-13-2 but that is mainly because you have consistently faced world class fighters. Do you regret not taking easier fights in your career in order to have a better record?
I have no regrets. I just followed my gym's (Wajutsu Keishu-Kai, the first fight team I belong to) policy. As most fighters know that the situation now is totally different from the past, it is so improved. Not only the practice environment, but also the way of promoting fighters,etc. I sometimes envy young fighters!
You only fought twice in 2005 and 2006 and didn't fight at all in 2011 why was that?
I wasn't liked by PRIDE at the time, so I just didn't have a chance to fight in 2005 and 2006. In 2011 I tried to fight in Kickboxing and Boxing matches to overcome my weak point, striking.
Anderson Silva vs Daiju Takase - Pride 26 (2003) (via fakebr7)
Did you enjoy fighting for Pride and were you sad when it ended?
I enjoyed and was happy to fight at PRIDE. When it ended I felt that PRIDE just had to lie in the bed they had made for themselves.
Did you realize how good a fighter Anderson Silva was when you faced him and are you surprised by how much he has gone on to achieve since?
Yes I did. Actually, I said in an interview 6 months before the fight,"I want to fight Anderson Silva because I can defeat him" and I was surprised when the fight really happened. I truly think that Anderson's striking skills is brilliant and the best in MMA.
You started fighting for Pride, Pancrase and the UFC. Was it difficult starting out on such big shows and do you think it would have been better if you had started off facing easier opponents at smaller events?
I think so. When I was starting fighting in MMA, the practice environment wasn't good compared to now. We were only grappling with kneeling position! There were some bad times in my career, for example situations when I messed up my health, and the fight that the weight difference was so big (see his debut fight vs Emmanuel Yarborough below) though I strongly believe that I became stronger because I went through these hurdles.
600lbs Sumo Vs 169lbs MMA Fighter - KTFOvideos (via KTFOvideos3)
Who is the toughest opponents you have ever faced?
Definitely Anderson Silva. I still can't forget the pressure I felt when I faced him.
Why did you decide to fight in the Dare middleweight tournament?
The timing was good and I felt the sincerity of the promoter. I would like to thank Mr. Thitidonpipat and Jussi, GM of DARE FC for giving me such a great opportunity and also thank my sponsors for supporting.
You have fought in some of the biggest arenas in Japan, will you find it difficult to motivate yourself for a fight in a nightclub?
The size of the venue doesn't matter. I'm just looking forward to showing "NEW Daiju Takase" for fans!
Are you worried about ring rust after not fighting for so long?
Not at all. I had a kickboxing and Boxing fight and I won the competition at Rickson Gracie Cup. My training partners are all world-class fighters fighting at UFC, K-1, ONE FC, ROAD FC,etc.
What are your plans for 2012? Will you be fighting more than once for Dare?
I would like to keep fighting at DARE as long as I win. Also, I heard that DARE FC will donate the revenue from the event to the flood damage. I'm really honored to be involved with such a great event. My plan in 2012 is to win the tournament and that will definitely come true
DARE Championship 1/12 will be broadcast live on the internet and will be available at www.darelive.tv and www.gfl.tv. The price is $4.95 in Thailand and $14.95 outside of Thailand and all the profits will be donated towards Thai flood victims.
For more information visit: www.darefightsports.com