Koji Ando on his ONE FC debut: “I’d like to show ONE FC fans what I’m made of”

Koji Ando, ONE FC fighter
Koji Ando, ONE FC fighter

Koji “The Commander” Ando makes his promotional debut on July 11, 2014 against Brazil’s Rafael Nunes at ONE FC 18 in Taipei, Taiwan.

Fighting out of Tokyo, Japan, Ando is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who has excellent cardio and a granite chin. He is a strong addition to the ONE FC lightweight division.

Ando is coming off a Legend FC Lightweight title challenge TKO victory last April of 2013 against Jadamba Narantungalag, who has also signed with ONE FC following the closure of the promotion. It was fight which saw Jadamba gruesomely break his ankle and give up the belt to Ando.

Ando will be back in action after a layoff of more than a year, and he is set to meet fellow ONE FC newcomer Nunes as the co-main event of the night. Nunes is known as for his very aggressive striking and threatening ground skills. He will look to stay unbeaten, continuing his 10-0 record, four of which came via TKO and five by way of submission.

MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Ando shortly before his ONE FC debut in Taipei against Nunes and discussed his training up to the fight and his plans in ONE FC.

MMA-in-ASIA: First off, how did you get involved with the sport of MMA?

Ando: I fight out of Wajutsu Keishukai, Tokyo. Since I was young I did judo, and during my college years I took up jiu jitsu and grappling at Wajutsu Keishukai. From here, my interest in MMA took hold and I started training in MMA too.

MMA-in-ASIA: Your fight name’s “The Commander”. What’s the history of your moniker?

Ando: For practice I usually pick out a tough training routine and, as a result, everyone around has called me “The Commander”!

MMA-in-ASIA: You displayed much improved boxing against Jadamba and you showed how good of a grappler you were that night. What are your thoughts about that fight?

Ando: Jadamba is one tough fighter, but I thankfully stuck to the game plan and was able to see it through.

MMA-in-ASIA: How big a factor is reviewing your opponent’s fight tapes?

Ando: I think it’s crucial to watch and study your opponent’s footage.

MMA-in-ASIA: What are your observations about Rafael Nunes?

Ando: He’s undefeated and has a lot of finishes under his belt. He’s definitely a tough opponent.

MMA-in-ASIA: How are your preparations for the fight? Who are some of your sparring partners for this fight, and why have you chosen them?

Ando: I’m constantly training hard. I trained with Gomi before his UFC fight. It was a very good experience to feel Gomi’s mental pressure. Now I have been training with Yoichi Fukumoto who has a long reach, the same as Rafael Nunes. And I’m training with Kimihiro Eto and Hiroto Uwesako who are from HEARTS. They are young, talented and good wrestlers. Chantamo who has a unique style of fighting. And I’ve been training with Masayuki Hamagishi who is the ZST Welterweight Champion.

MMA-in-ASIA: You were the last Legend FC Lightweight Champion. Now that you’re facing an even more international level of competition, what is your goal before the this year ends?

Ando: As such, I’d like to put on a performance I’ll be proud of. For the remainder of the year I’d like to get out there and have a lot of matches.

MMA-in-ASIA: While you’re probably not looking past Nunes, do you have someone in mind that you want to fight next?

Ando: I’m not really thinking about a specific fighter I’d like to fight next. ONE FC has a ton of great fighters and I’d ultimately like to fight against many of them and beat them.

MMA-in-ASIA: Have you ever thought about having the chance to face Shinya Aoki?

Ando: I am not in position where I can talk about Aoki-san. He has done a great job in the MMA world. My record should not be compared his achievement. ONE FC has a lot of talent in my division. And first, I have to win tomorrow.

MMA-in-ASIA: What goes through your mind before you enter the cage or ring?

Ando: I think about believing in myself and winning the fight.

MMA-in-ASIA: What are the other things you love to do aside from punching people in the face?

Ando: I don’t really have any hobbies outside of MMA. I live and breathe MMA!

MMA-in-ASIA: What can fans expect from you in your first ONE FC appearance against Rafael Nunes?

Ando: I think it’s going to be high-level match. I’d like to show ONE FC fans what I’m made of.