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Exclusive Interview: Yoshiyuki Yoshida Talks Koscheck and “Fight for the Troops”

(Photo courtesy of Daniel Herbertson Photography.)

Many American fans may only know Yoshiyuki Yoshida as the guy who barely broke a sweat choking out the man now legally known as War Machine back at UFC 84, but on Wednesday the Japanese welterweight enters into his second UFC fight against Josh Koscheck at “Fight for the Troops” on Spike TV.  Not only is it a significant step up in level of competition, it’s also bound to be hostile territory for Yoshida, considering he’s facing an American (okay, it’s Koscheck, but still) in front of an audience of American military personnel.

In this exclusive Cage Potato interview, Yoshida (with the help of a translator) talks about what he’s expecting from Koscheck on Wednesday night, and where he sees himself in the UFC’s welterweight division. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  Against a guy like Koscheck, who’s known for having great wrestling skills and good conditioning, how have you been preparing yourself for this fight?

I began training for this fight about two months ago.  I’ve been doing a lot of sparring and running in the mornings, and at night I usually work on my boxing, hitting mitts, and trying to improve my technical skills and my strength.  I’m in great shape for this fight, probably the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’ll be ready for him.

What’s your strategy for dealing with Koscheck’s wrestling ability?

I understand he is a very good wrestler.  There is no question about that.  I’m not going to try and beat him that way, by outwrestling him.  But one of my strengths is my judo, so I plan on using his aggressiveness against him by implementing my judo skills when he looks for a clinch or a takedown.

Since the fight is a benefit for American soldiers, it’s probably safe to say that you will not be the crowd favorite in this one.  Does that enter into your mind at all, and what are your feelings on that?

I knew when I signed with the UFC that all my fights would be “away” fights.  That is the reality of the situation.  The UFC is the best organization in the world and has the best fighters, so if you are a Japanese fighter and you want to fight the best you have to be prepared for that, and I am.  I know the crowd will be heavily on his side, and that is fine.  Because when we get in the Octagon there will only be the two of us, and no one else can help him then.

You mention that the UFC is the world’s preeminent MMA organization right now.  It seems that since the dissolution of Pride, Japanese MMA organizations have struggled to become major players.  As a Japanese fighter, are you concerned about the lack of a Japanese rival to the UFC?

The UFC is the best organization in the world right now, that is true, but Japan has Sengoku and Dream, and while they are not as big as the UFC they both have some very good fighters. 

So I’m not concerned about MMA in Japan.  I think it will continue to be a situation where Japan has some organizations, but the top fighters in the world will continue to go to the UFC.  I think it is like Major League Baseball in that way, where we have some very good players in Japan, but the best always end up going to America.

What do you see as the most significant differences between MMA in the UFC in America and in Japan?

There are differences, particularly with the different rules.  You’re allowed to hit with elbows in the UFC, and in Japan you are not.  But aside from that, it’s all basically the same.  It’s all fighting, which is virtually the same anywhere.  That’s the beauty of it.  

Where would you rank Koscheck in the UFC’s welterweight division, and where do you think it puts you if you beat him?

I believe Koscheck does belong in the top five in the UFC’s welterweight division.  If I beat him it puts me there, and I think it also puts me in the top ten in the world.  That’s where I think I belong, where I should be right now, and I’m excited for the chance to show that to the world.

Is that what’s at stake for you in this fight, breaking into the top ten as a welterweight?

Yes, I think so.  My last fight against Jon Koppenhaver, I believe it was shown on TV as part of the pay-per-view in America, and I hope that some American fans saw what I can do.  My hope is that even more will see this fight. 

I would like UFC fans to start recognizing me, to start recognizing my face and who I am, since I know I am probably unknown to most of them, but also recognizing my skills and what I can do.  I want them to see that I am one of the top welterweights in the world.  It is my hope that they will see this and that I will prove this to them against Josh Koscheck.

Cagepotato Comments

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C-Bus Allstar- December 9, 2008 at 5:59 am
The thing I love about this site's new comment system is the fact that it actually remembers my name/e-mail for when I want to say something wholly retarded.

I love it.

Oh, great interview by the way.. Seems like a stand-up guy. Most Japanese are.. That whole "Death before Dishonor" thing goes a long way to making them good people.
kwagnuth- December 9, 2008 at 4:08 am
He's gonna take Koschecks hair put it on a leash and name it fluffy.
Poop Chute- December 8, 2008 at 11:41 pm
This guy has really hairy arms and legs for an Asian dude.
Skidmark Draws- December 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm
The only credit I have to give to Koscheck is not getting KTFO'd by Thiago Alves. That is quite the feat for someone whose striking is as shitty as his. Maybe I got it twisted. . .maybe that's a diss to Thiago Alves. . .
mike`- December 8, 2008 at 9:10 pm
great interview. yoshida is gonna represent all over koscheck's face! wait...might have pulled a bit of a dana white there.
auzzy- December 8, 2008 at 7:55 pm
Yoshida is like: " I am also going to take Kos's kinky hair back to japan and hang it on my wall, cause thats how all roll."
Anonymous- December 8, 2008 at 5:53 pm
Some of you guys have been living under a rock for the last couple years. Who was the last opponent kos really lay n praid? Jeff Joslyn in 2006? His last few fights have been very exciting with lots of action, save for his fight against gsp but that really wasn't his fault. He was kinda the one on the receiving end of lnp that fight. As for needing to do more than just wrestle, he's been fighting on his feet more than on the ground lately.
-the ox king-- December 8, 2008 at 4:21 pm
thats what i was thinking he sounds really smart and very cool
Anonymous- December 8, 2008 at 3:51 pm
Yoshida ALL DAY
Blitz- December 8, 2008 at 3:31 pm
Well if were adding in sylvia then i hope he takes out Vera, Tito, and heck, throw in Kimbo for good measure.
Ryan- December 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm
No offense but you guys are drastically underestimating Kos. To be sure, I hate Kos just as much as the next guy, but you have to admit his last 3 fights have been pretty decent... He barely took Hazelett down and KO'd him with a head kick. He had some of the nastiest GNP I've ever seen against Lytle. And against Alves, he barely tried to take Alves down and tried to stand for the majority of the fight. Alves/KOs was also a really awesome fight. So, in summary... Kos should take this.
portlandmma- December 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm
I hate Koscheck too but i think he'll lay and pray him to death. Atleast he tapped warmachine and got him the fuck out of the ufc.
Jay Smith- December 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm
This should be a pretty good fight. I gotta give the edge to Yoshida though.
Jeffro- December 8, 2008 at 1:03 pm
"Douchebag Killa"...That shit is funny.

But really, Kos is going to get fucked up. He won't know what hit him.
Jay- December 8, 2008 at 12:34 pm
I hope this guy rips Kos' arm off and dyes his hair with the stump.
krazy pony- December 8, 2008 at 12:27 pm
If Yoshida beats K-os, we can officially name him the "douchebag killa."
Tim Sylvia beware!
Douchebaggery- December 8, 2008 at 12:10 pm
damn, I fucked my own name up
Doucheabggery- December 8, 2008 at 12:02 pm
nice interview, he seems pretty cool.
the fight of the week video- December 8, 2008 at 11:55 am
Were sorry, this video is no longer available
ANON- December 8, 2008 at 10:57 am

Eveboy- December 8, 2008 at 10:55 am
Yea I'm putting the house on Yoshida I don't think theres any chance Kos hangs with him. Yosh by Sub midway through Rd 2(only because i think Kos will lay on him for 1st Rd)
K.E.G.- December 8, 2008 at 10:46 am
Seems like an alright dude. i hope he beats Koss's ass, I realy can't stand that guy. I grew up wrestling so I love the sport, but I love MMA and you can't just wrestle here. Koss to me is one of the most boring fighters the UFC has ever had and if this is his last fight there I hope he goes out on a loss, a brutal one. His over inflated ego needs to be smashed every chance someone gets.
Sebas- December 8, 2008 at 10:41 am
yoshida is going to sub kos