Tatsuya Mizuno believes he has been competing at the wrong weight division for his entire career, a point he hopes to prove emphatically when he drops down to middleweight for the first time to take on Rafael Silva at ONE FC: "Total Domination" next month.
Up until now, the Japanese veteran has competed at 205 pounds and has even fought at heavyweight on a couple of occasions with an impressive list of opponents which includes Renato Sobral, Sergei Kharitonov, Gegard Mousasi, Melvin Manhoef and Mirko Filipovic.
He is as seasoned as they come and a record of 11-9 does not tell the whole story when it comes to Mizuno's career, which he hopes to turn around with an impressive middleweight debut in Singapore on October 18.
"This is the best weight category for me and I do not expect to have any problems making the weight. I want to win the ONE FC middleweight title."
His opponent, Silva, hails from Portugal and has a 39-13 record. He is coming off seven straight wins, but it is fair to say that he has not been facing the same sort of caliber of opposition as Mizuno, who says he is very confident in claiming his first-ever ONE FC victory.
"I have been practicing in the Wajutsu Keishukai gym which is led by Yushin Okami and I have been studying some of my opponent's fights. He is very strong with submissions but he has been fighting in Europe and I do not know very much about his previous opponents."
This will be Mizuno's second time fighting under the banner of Asia's biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion. He headlined ONE FC: "Destiny of Warriors" in June 2012 but after seeming to hurt opponent "Babalu" Sobral with a left hand, he followed him to the ground and was swiftly submitted with an armbar.
It has been over a year since Mizuno first stepped inside the ONE FC cage. He has dropped a decision to Jason Jones under the GLORY banner in the interim, but he is hoping to fight more regularly and to establish himself as a dominant force in the middleweight division.
"I strongly hope I can fight more often for ONE FC because it is a great promotion and has proved already how strong it is. I want to win many fights for ONE FC and to be the first ever middleweight champion."
Mizuno is a third degree Judo black belt who began learning martial arts at the age of 7. In 2010, he reached the final of the DREAM Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, only to be submitted by Mousasi and this remains the closest he has ever come to winning a title in MMA.
At the age of 32, he should be approaching his prime and if Mizuno can demonstrate his middleweight credentials by beating Silva at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on October 18, the Japanese veteran will come one step closer to claiming that elusive first title.