View Full Version : NEWS: Omigawa’s Holy Homework

02-02-2011, 11:13 AM
TOKYO -- “It doesn’t feel like I should say finally, but finally, I’m back in the UFC,” says a quiet, gravelly voiced Michihiro Omigawa between sips of coffee.

In a knit headband and wool pullover, Omigawa leans back in his booth at a café near the J-Rock Workout Studio. The only other inhabitants are senior citizens, garrulously chatting the morning away while one of their country’s best fighters quietly prepares for the day’s training. The scene is quiet and anonymous, and it suits the deadly serious Omigawa.

Even a fan that has never seen Sengoku Raiden Championship or Dream has likely seen Omigawa before. When he faces unbeaten blue-chipper Chad Mendes at UFC 126 this Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, it will not be the first time he has stepped into the Octagon.

Omigawa is a man of few words; his only moments of voice-raised verbosity are in his infamous -- and often profane -- post-fight speeches. If he were an actor, it would be accurate to call his performances taut or restrained. Nonetheless, the relief in Omigawa’s voice is palpable. While some fighters go only as far as exclaiming the platitude of how honored they are to fight in the UFC, Omigawa is one of the few Japanese fighters who had the benefit of having been there, only to finally return.

“Somehow, I feel like there’s this strong bond between myself and the UFC. I’m really happy that I’m able to come back. Maybe it is God telling me that I have to return to the UFC, and that’s why I’m able to go back now,” he says.

Omigawa’s first UFC stint three years ago was brief, as he was cut after losing tough decisions to Matt Wiman and Thiago Tavares. The pairings were demanding, considering Omigawa entered the Octagon with a .500 record, a clear beneficiary of the fallout from Zuffa’s purchase of Pride Fighting Championships and his place within the Yoshida Dojo stable.

However, those challenges were not new for Omigawa. He debuted in the Pride ring of all places against gritty veteran Aaron Riley, who wielded eight years of MMA experience and nearly three dozen fights. His second fight came against a 7-1-1 Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante; he lasted just 49 seconds.

Dave Mandel

Omigawa says he holds the advantage in
his matchup with Chad Mendes (above).Three years removed from his UFC debut and now a featherweight, Omigawa is not only equipped to make a legitimate UFC run but has exceeded expectations in his development as a fighter.

“Being ‘cut by the UFC’ sounds negative, but all the experiences I’ve had in other rings since are positive. I’ve learned and grown a lot. Before my return to the UFC, I was finally able to refine my ‘Omigawa style,’” the Hidehiko Yoshida understudy says. “Specifically, it’s a synthesis of judo and striking. It’s taken time to hone, and it’s nearly perfect these days.”

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