It’s been nearly nine years since Goiti Yamauchi arrived in Bellator MMA. On Friday at Bellator 284, he’ll feature in his first main event, and first five-round fight.
That’s something that Yamauchi (27-5) finally feels ready for.
“I have a lot of experience here in Bellator, but I think this is the time I feel mature enough to make a main event, and sure, win the fight. That’s what matters,” Yamauchi told media outlets including Cageside Press during this week’s Bellator 284 media day. “It’s very meaningful for me, not just to me but for all my team, making this main event. Not just the main event, but against Neiman [Gracie]. This opponent is very meaningful for me too. So I’m very excited.”
As Yamauchi noted, it’s Neiman Gracie he’s up against. With the Gracie family name comes their decorated history and jiu-jitsu prowess. Trying things out on the ground with Gracie is something Yamauchi is looking forward to.
“It’s very meaningful for me, fighting against a Gracie,” he stated. “And sure, I want to test myself on the ground against Neiman.”
After starting his career as a featherweight and then moving to lightweight, Goiti Yamauchi now plies his trade at 170 pounds. Friday will mark his second fight as a welterweight, and he appears to have found a new home.
“I think lightweight and welterweight, they are the hardest divisions and the hardest weight class in MMA,” said Yamauchi. “So I’m moving up. I used to fight tough guys at lightweight, and it’s the same thing at welterweight, but I’m a little bit happier and healthier this time.”
He’s also feeling better, in compared to his prior weight cuts, though little has changed in the amount of weight he’s actually cutting. “Way better now. 170, this is my weight class. I’m not cutting less, I got bigger. In the real, real weight. Muscles, not fat. I don’t like to be a fat guy in the off-season. Welterweight [didn’t] make me get lazy or something, I just work even harder. Now with health. I’m healthier, and have got some quality muscles. I’m still cutting, but like I said, way happier and stronger.”
Watch the entire media day scrum with Goiti Yamauchi above. Bellator 284 goes down in Sioux Falls, SD on Friday August 12.