JMMA Insight – An Interview with the Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Rin Nakai
By Dave Carpinello
The reigning Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase and undefeated women’s mixed martial artist, Rin Nakai recently took some time to speak with PunchDrunkGamer about her upcoming fight at PANCRASE 247: Champion vs. Champion/Queen vs. Queen against Brenda Gonzales, the Japan MMA scene, Women’s MMA in Japan and more. Enjoy!
PDG: In your last fight against Danielle West at the Pancrase Progress Tour 14, you were crowned the Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase after defeating her via decision. What does it mean for your career to hold such a prestigious title?
Rin Nakai: It is great honor for me that become a champion of Pancrase, 20 years running it has been the No.1 mixed martial arts promotion in Japan. I am definitely proud of it, I am PANCRASE.
PDG: Your are undefeated in 14 professional bouts but which opponent has been your toughest and why?
Rin Nakai: It is hard to answer this question because all of my opponents that I faced were the same in that I had to fight my best for the win. But I remember two opponents were close to me (laughs). My coach often reminds me of those close matches to make me train harder.
PDG: In addition to MMA, you have also competed in several grappling tournaments including the Smackgirl Grappling Queen Tournament. Do have any plans to compete in more tournaments as your career progresses?
Rin Nakai: I don’t have any plans for it now, as I am completely focused on Brenda Gonzales and my career fighting in Pancrase.
PDG: Women’s MMA has exploded in popularity and exposure over the last two years in North America, have you seen the same growth in Japan?
Rin Nakai: Unfortunately, the women’s MMA situation has been getting worse in Japan. The serious economic damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has been attacking the JMMA business. Pancrase is the only organization developing and progressing despite of recent bad economy. I can say, PANCRASE is JMMA!
Women’s JMMA is getting worse because the amount of females joining the sport in Japan has been steadily decreasing. I think that the reason why that is happening is because of the gyms and training centers management. For example, the guys in the gym are too aggressive against ladies in training (hitting them full-force and such). And that isn’t even the worst thing, the guys are looking at the female fighters not as fighters but as sex objects. In my personal experiences, sometimes guys don’t show any respect for me despite the fact that I have won two championship belts. I can hold out hope that the guys in JMMA gyms will learn to have a lady first attitude and a gentleman spirit. I think many top class male fighters could have a good and strong heart that they could earn by daily hard training.
PDG: On May 19th at PANCRASE 247 you are scheduled to fight against Brenda Gonzales, who is the King of the Cage women’s super-flyweight champion. What do you think of your opponent and do you see any advantages for you in this match-up?
Rin Nakai: I think Brenda Gonzales is a totally excellent fighter. I don’t know if I have better elements than Brenda or any distinct advantages. We will find out who the better fighter is, after the fight is finished between Brenda and I.
PDG: What has been your training schedule leading up to this fight?
Rin Nakai: I don’t change my training menu specifically for different opponents, I’ll keep on working out and training just as usual. My training menu consists of three to four workouts a day, totaling six to seven hours, I will do running, cross training, circuit, weights, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, jui-jitsu, MMA, etc. I train everyday but when I get tired I’ll reduce my times or just take a rest depending on my condition. I’ve been keeping this up for the last eight years.
PDG: Who are your training partners in Japan at Shooto Dojo Shikoku?
Rin Nakai: I actually don’t choose my training partners nor do I have any specific fighters that I work with. I’ll do my training with anyone who is in gym when I am there.
PDG: This will be your seventh fight under the Pancrase banner. What stands out about them as an organization in comparison to the other promotions that you have fought for (WVR, Valkyrie and others)?
Rin Nakai: Pancrase has many excellent points that are much better than the other JMMA promotions. In my opinion as fighter, Pancrase is very kind to the fighters and they are an honest organization. Pancrase is always preparing for fighters the best situation before the matches and we, the fighters are free to speak our opinions. Pancrase also shows respect for the sponsors, staffs, audience, and especially for the fighters. In fact I’m a woman, minority in JMMA, but Pancrase gives us a very comfortable place for work.
PDG: When you are not training do you like to play any video games? If so what are some of your favorite games? If no, how do you prefer to spend your time outside of the gym?
Rin Nakai: Unfortunately I have never played a video game before. I’d love to play a game if I were one of the characters in the game (laughs). I heard that Pancrase would be releasing some news on the topic on May 13th though, so stay tuned.
PDG: So then how do you prefer to spend your time outside of the gym?
Rin Nakai: When I’m not at the gym training, I like to go shopping and people watch and to check out the new products in town. I often go Don Quijote super store.
PDG: Thanks for your time Rin, is there anything else you would like to add?
Rin Nakai: I want to say Hello MMA fans!!, and watch PANCRASE 247: Champion vs. Champion/Queen vs. Queen live on Ustream on Sunday, May 19th. I’ll do my best to get the win. Don’t miss Rin Nakai and PANCRASE!
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