AKIRA OTA
    - Shad D. de Guzman


    How do you find the Philippines so far? Was this your first visit?

    No, I've been here many times. I have a friend that is working here for three (3) years. I also have a friend that is a Wrestling Instructor in a University here in Manila. I've been here last 1988, 1996, and of course this year 2003.


    How did you find out that there were Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events being held here in the Philippines?

    I found out through the Internet, and I've decided to visit Manila to see if there were competitions being held here like in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Pride Fighting Championship (Pride FC). Then I found out about URCC.


    Your credentials are very astounding Sir, being the 2x Freestyle Wrestling Silver Medallist in Seoul and LA Olympics, World Wrestling Master's Cup Freestyle Wrestling Champion, Wrestling Instructor at the Waseda University, and Pride Fighting Championship (Pride FC) Judge. I wish you could tell me more of your very impressive background.

    I was in Oklahoma State back in 1991, and I have friends that fight in America after the Olympics. I was very interested in Ultimate Fighting, and I have friends such as Randy Couture and Dan Henderson. Everyone's my buddy you know, they all fight in the Ultimate Fighting and I'm just very interested in it. I officiate in Pride Fighting Championship (Pride FC) in Japan, and I've seen Noguiera, Dan Henderson, and many fighters that are very strong. I'm very interested in this kind of fighting, especially Pride FC and K-1.


    I have recently seen you almost everywhere lately, first at the WAP Gym at Rizal Stadium, then at the URCC Qualifying Event. The last time I saw you, you were at ULTRA. It shows that you are very dedicated on what you are doing; do you have any future plans in mind?

    I have plans on going to Korea, because they are going to have the same Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitions there. It's like Pride FC and URCC I guess, and also in Thailand and Indonesia. I'll be at UFC in Las Vegas on January, because my buddy Randy Couture will be fighting. Japan will also be having a Pride FC and K-1 competition next year.


    You've recently conducted a Wrestling Clinic at the UP DMST Vanguard Grounds; can you please tell us more about it?

    The Wrestling Clinic? UP guys ... hmm, well I used to remember when I was a student myself. Do you know that the Waseda University in Japan is like La Salle here in Manila? It's a private university and it's very hard to get in. I want to take some of my students here to cross-train with the guys, and the Wrestling Clinic was very enjoyable. I've shown them many techniques, but they have the option to choose what works for them.


    Can you give us any comments or suggestions on how you think we can improve our local Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitions like URCC?

    I see you as a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) guy. (smiles) I think MMA here is okay for me this time, but I would very much like to see a Filipino guy fighting a foreigner. I hope someday that one of your number one (1) guys will go to Japan's Pride FC and fight Sakuraba. (laughs)


    Upon your stay here in the Philippines, who do you think is the top local fighter amongst your list?

    For this time, everyone is very good in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and I was really surprised. You have good fighters in the lightweight division, but Japan also has good lightweight guys like Rumino Sato and Caol Uno. Maybe you guys can send some fighters in Pancrase or Shooto in Japan to compete. Someday, a Filipino fighter will beat a Japanese fighter ... that'll be big news here.


    When are you planning to return here in our country?

    Maybe on April 2004 for the next URCC event, and that I am also planning to bring some of my students to cross-train in UP.


    Do you have any message for our local MMA fighters?

    Filipino guys are all very powerful, and that I hope someday you can compete in Japan, where MMA is much bigger! Train more harder, never stop learning, and never give up!



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