At just 20 years old, Brazilian prospect Goiti Yamauchi (14-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC) certainly has time on his side. But with 11 years of training already under his belt, Yamauchi is ready to make an impact right now.
“Despite taking it one fight at a time, I’m not going to America just for fun,” Yamauchi told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in his native Portuguese. “I’m going for a championship belt. I feel I will be Bellator’s next world champion.”
Yamauchi was born in Japan to Brazilian parents. The family returned to Brazil when he was just 3 years old, and they settled in Curitiba. At age 9, Yamauchi took up Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Other arts soon followed.
“I started muay Thai at 13, boxing at 14, and wrestling at 15,” Yamauchi said. “At 15 I became an amateur MMA fighter.”
Success came instantly in the amateur ranks – seven wins, seven first-round stoppages.
In 2010, at the ripe old age of 17, Yamauchi made the choice to go pro. The results have been equally impressive, winning 14 of his first 15 professional contests, including 12 wins by submission. College has been put on hold, as has the pursuit of a traditional job, all in favor of Yamauchi pursuing his dream.
“I train at least three times a day, not to mention a resting period, so there isn’t much time for college in the life of a professional fighter,” Yamauchi said. “I’ve always been a fighter. My family has always supported me. We aren’t rich, but we aren’t poor either. They kept me in good schools, and I’ve made my sacrifices by not participating in youthful fun so I can keep working toward my goals.”
Yamauchi will take the next step toward fulfilling his goals later this year, as he recently signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA and is expected to debut in non-tournament action.
The majority of his fights to date have been contested at 155 pounds, but the 5-foot-10 Yamauchi will compete as a featherweight under the Bellator MMA banner. He’ll have his sights on current Bellator champ Pat Curran from the moment he sets foot in the promotion.
“I do feel I need to mature a bit more, mentally and physically,” Yamauchi admitted. “But when I’m as ready as I can be, you can be sure that belt will be mine.”
MMA success remains a family affair for Yamauchi, as he counts cousin Shyudi Yamauchi as a primary training partner and uncle Ossamu Yamauchi as his head coach. He’s considering a training stint in the U.S. ahead of his first fight in the country, but nothing has been set in stone.
“I believe in training where I feel happiest,” Yamauchi said. “Of course, for Bellator I will intensify my training by adding more sparring partners. I might do a camp in the U.S. lasting several weeks, but I have a lot of faith in the work my team does in Curitiba and it is my home. I feel everything will turn out fine.”
Hardcore fans of MMA have long lauded the incoming wave of prospects to the sport – youngsters who have cross-trained in multiple disciplines throughout their youth. At just 20 years old, Yamauchi certainly seems to be among the most promising of the crop.
The Brazilian seems intent on making an impact, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get there.
“I don’t believe in having talent,” Yamauchi said. “If I have any talent, it’s my willpower and determination. I always give my best and keep a cool head
“I am confident I will reach the top of my weight class.”
For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.
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