Kiichi Kunimoto makes his third Octagon appearance against Richard Walsh at UFC Fight Night 52 on September 20, 2014 in Tokyo.
Kunimoto was the defending Champion in Japan’s regional HEAT organization before his cal up to the UFC for the first card in Singapore. The first outing was a disappointing one, even though it was recorded as a win, because Luiz Dutra was disqualified by illegal shots that laid Kunimoto out on the canvas.
In his second match up against Daniel Sarafian, he proved his mettle in spades by choking his opponent out just halfway through the first round in a very dominant performance.
Kunimoto’s background as a pro skater and his prevalence on social media are giving him more and more notice in Japan and abroad. His popularity is even beginning to overshadow his moniker “Strasser” as he picks up notice for his efforts. Not being based in Tokyo, but Osaka, he’s tirelessly promoted himself while backing up his grappling prowess.
MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Kunimoto at the media presser during fight week about his rising popularity, his training for this fight, and his desire to travel overseas for more training at a team with strong wrestling.
On his UFC ascension reflected at home,
“I’m feeling it in my every day life.”
On silencing critics,
“I want to prove myself by winning on the 20th and shut them up.”
On his first experience fighting abroad,
“I learned a lot and I was able to adjust more.”