Takeshi “Agar” Kasugai took a high stakes, high profile last minute fight against number one contender Song Min-Jong for the ROAD FC interim Flyweight title on February 1, 2015 in Seoul. He’ll aim to stand out in his first live broadcast fight.
Kasugai has flown under the radar, even for fans of Japanese MMA. He’s been fighting professionally since 2009 and he can claim some big wins over current champions. In fact, Kasugai’s first fight was against current HEAT Champion Kazuma Sone, who is now a training partner.
In DEEP, Kasugai’s decision over Naoyuki Kato and armlock finish of current Champ Yuki Motoya led him to his regional promotion of HEAT where he won decisions over both Fumihiro Kitahara and current Bantamweight Champ Motonobu Tezuka (in a non-title bout).
Kasugai’s record now stands at an impressive 14-3-1, with his only loss in the last four years being a decision given up to former SHOOTO Champ and VTJ Tournament Winner Ogikubo. To put it succinctly, he’s on fire.
Kasugai is ripe for a title challenge and ironically it comes in the form of the ROAD FC belt in Korea, his first fight abroad. He’ll be facing a very hungry and able Song Min-Jong, a well-rounded, aggressive, and persistent fighter who is making his third try for gold.
Asia MMA spoke with Kasugai shortly before his match regarding his thoughts on joining ROAD FC and fighting in Korea, his past stellar opponents, and his ultimate goal for 2015.
Asia MMA: Before getting the title shot offer at the last minute, had your heard of ROAD FC?
Kasugai: I first knew of them from before when was reading a magazine. I think they put on a really big event. I didn’t think I would ever have a chance to appear on an event, really.
Asia MMA: When ROAD FC offered you a title match, what did you feel?
Kasugai: The offer came to me just three weeks before the match. I felt it was a very big chance. I’m very happy and it’s an honor very much to fight here.
Asia MMA: What is your opinion of your opponent, Song Min-Jong?
Kasugai: Song Min-Jong beat a famous Japanese fighter, so that gave me a very strong impression.
Asia MMA: Since it’s a late notice fight at flyweight, is your weight cut OK? What is your natural weight?
Kasugai: I fought in the flyweight division originally, so the weight is no problem. I usually weigh 68kg.
Asia MMA: How would you describe your fighting style?
Kasugai: The style of my war hasn’t been decided so much. But I’m an MMA fighter, so I’m always thinking I fight as an all-rounder.
Asia MMA: Do you have any favorite technique?
Kasugai: I don’t have one in particular, but I like punching and newaza.
Asia MMA: Recently, you’ve been an MMA journeyman. Since you don’t live in Tokyo, has this make your MMA career difficult?
Kasugai: There are no problems for the moment. My practice partners are few for certain, but we cooperate with other teams, so there isn’t any anxiety.
“All of my opponents were strong. There were no easy games.”
Asia MMA: You have beat DEEP Champ Yuki Motoya, and HEAT Champ Motonobu. You also fought former Shooto Champ Ogikubo. Who was your most difficult opponent? Why?
Kasugai: All of my opponents were strong. There were no easy games. The physical strength of Ogikubo I really remember the most.
Asia MMA: You beat your teammate, Kazuma Sone, the HEAT Champion, way back at the beginning of your career. Can you beat him again?
Kasugai: I’m practicing every day with Sone-san, and we both understand how to fight each other, so I don’t know whether or not I can win if we have a rematch!
Asia MMA: You have fought in several Japanese promotions. What is your opinion of Japanese MMA and now Korean MMA?
Kasugai: Japanese MMA has disappeared very measurably compared to the past. But there are many fighters who are stronger than the past. Korean MMA feels very vigorous right now.
Asia MMA: Can you name any MMA fighters you respect and why?
Kasugai: The fighter I respect is Hatsu Hioki. He has a great heart and he’s been wonderful since back in his Shooto age.
Asia MMA: Is this your first time fighting on a live broadcast, on television and pay per view?
Kasugai: Yes, this is my first time on television.
Asia MMA: What are your goals in 2015?
Kasugai: First, I don’t want to miss this big opportunity I’ve received. I’ll be a ROAD FC Champion.