Kotetsu Boku's run inside ONE FC got off to a spectacular start when he stopped Zorobabel Moreira to become the inaugural lightweight champion, but he was brought down to earth with a bump by Shinya Aoki, who wrestled the belt away from him with a submission win earlier this year.
Aoki is the foremost submission specialist in mixed martial arts (MMA) but next up for Boku is a challenge of a very different type when he takes on one of the most dangerous strikers in the lightweight division at ONE FC: "Champions & Warriors" in Jakarta on September 13th.
Vuyisile Colossa is a former Muay Thai world champion who has impeccable striking credentials but Boku says he is not intimidated by his opponent's impressive resume of stand up fights.
"This is MMA, not kickboxing. I have fought many different opponents with many different types of skill and for me this is just another fight, I am not worried about his striking because in MMA many things can happen."
Boku (20-8-2) is by far the more experienced of the two fighters although his career didn't really take off until he signed with Asia's biggest MMA organization and promptly knocked out one of its biggest stars. Colossa (5-4) has far fewer wins but has been in with some elite opponents including Yui Chu Nam (twice), Eduard Folayang and Lowen Tynanes.
With both fighters coming off submission losses this promises to be a pivotal fight and Boku believes that his experience and versatility will make the difference.
"I am confident in my striking, I am confident in my ground game, I train MMA every day and whatever happens in this fight I will be prepared for it. Of course I can win by submission but I also believe it is possible for me to win by knockout."
Colossa has never been stopped with strikes but Boku has thunderous punching power, a point he proved emphatically with the win over Moreira, and does not believe the South African will have things all his own way in the stand up exchanges.
"I am not afraid to stand with him and to test my striking against his, actually it is a very exciting challenge for me because he is a Muay Thai world champion and if I can knock him out it would be a big achievement."
Boku is 36 years old and has spent his entire career at 155 pounds but cuts very little weight and was considering a drop down to featherweight before he got the call to come and fight for the ONE FC title. He says this is still an option and is determined to get himself back in contention with a win over Colossa.
"Winning the belt meant so much to me because ONE FC is the biggest in Asia now and it has helped me to become more famous outside of Japan. I want to fight for the title again, that is my goal, I don't know if I can fight at featherweight or not but it is something I will talk about with my team after the fight. I want to wear the ONE FC belt around my waist again, it was a very good feeling."
ONE FC has been steadily acquiring some of the top Japanese talent including Aoki, Koji Oishi, Masakatsu Ueda, Shinichi Kojima, Yasuhiro Urushitani and Tatsuya Mizuno as well as several of the best foreign fighters from the DREAM era like Bibiano Fernandes and Melvin Manhoef.
Talks are reportedly at an advanced stage for a ONE FC show in Tokyo in 2014 and for Boku this is a major source of motivation as he prepares to take on Colossa in Jakarta.
"I am very happy to fight for ONE FC because I get to go to new countries like Indonesia and Singapore and I always try to put on an exciting show to make the fans happy but fighting for ONE FC in Tokyo would be a dream for me. I hope it can come true."
For Boku to remain relevant he needs to defeat Colossa at ONE FC: "Champions & Warriors." If he can do that then, be it at 145 or 155 pounds, he will be a step closer to a coveted second title shot and a potential spot on the card of a 2014 event in Tokyo.