RIZIN 20: “Saitama” takes place shortly (Tues., Dec. 31, 2019) at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Jiri Prochazka (25-3-1) fights C.B. Dollaway (17-9) for the Light Heavyweight title, Kai Asakura (14-1) fights Manel Kape (14-4) for the vacant Bantamweight title, and Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) puts her Super Atomweight title up against Seo Hee Ham (22-8).
In many ways the Rizin Fighting Federation is the spiritual successor to Pride FC, right down to having Nobuyuki Sakakibara as the face of the company. Pride FC would take on fighters from any promotion, and in one such bout here, Bellator fighter John “Macapa” Teixeira (23-4-2) takes on Mikuru Asakura (11-1, 1 NC).
Although the man from Aichi, Japan, may be unknown to Bellator fans, he’s a sensation in Rizin, undefeated in his five bouts there. And 55 percent of his wins (five of 11) come by knockout, which suggests he has the acumen to win this cross-promotional bout.
Teixeira doesn’t want to lose face for himself or Bellator MMA in this fight. The perennial Featherweight contender is currently on a two-fight win streak including an impressive finish of Ashleigh Grimshaw at Bellator 226. A setback now would knock him out of contention to face the winner of the Featherweight Grand Prix.
“Macapa” John Teixeira recently chatted with MMAmania.com (via e-mail) about how his training and preparation to face Mikuru Asakura has gone so far.
“It was a great preparation, I had a busy year with fights. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity and I will make it count in the fight.”
I also asked “Macapa” about his expectations for an opponent with such a long win streak.
“He is a very good opponent. And he comes confident with these victories at Rizin, but I’m also very excited after my last performance.”
As he should be after the aforementioned Grimshaw fight. I asked him where this win would rank him in Bellator’s Featherweight division even though it’s a Rizin fight.
“A win over Asakura is sure to put me back in one of the next Bellator belt challengers, but I want to first prove it to everyone fighting Rizin (by) beating him and then thinking about the next step.”
I also asked for his opinion of the current Featherweight Grand Prix tournament.
“They cast excellent fighters (in it). Although at the primaries fights there were some fighters that didn’t deserve (to) be there.”
Has Macapa changed any of things in his training regimen and approach to fighting having just turned 33 in November?
“Yes, I started to listen more to my coaches and tried to preserve myself more in my training sections and this year could do three fights without injuries and well physically.”
Does he feel this will help him after coming up short in several opportunities to move into title contention in Bellator?
“It doesn’t frustrate me (to miss opportunities) because I also deserved (that). It is my fault that I had three losses in a row. But now I have returned to the path of victory.”
On a different note I asked Macapa if there are any prospects in Nova Uniao that we should be looking for.
“In the Nova Uniao (camp) there are a lot of promising (fighters) and I also trained with several names, it was not just one. I prefer not to say names, but the future will only depend on themselves.”
Fair enough. How often is he sparring and working out with these names?
“I’m always training, I just stop in case of health or injury. I live fight, I breathe fight. If I could fight every month, I would fight (every month).”
I also wanted to know his thoughts on fighting for Rizin on this card.
“Of course I am interested in these promotions, it is an honor to be able to fight in ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ and (at) an event like that.”
How hard was it to take a fight in “The Land of the Rising Sun” during the holidays?
“For me it is not, because I already spent Christmas doing (my) diet to fight. I’ll miss the family only, but that’s the price. This is my job!”
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