A 36-year-old Frank Trigg won his fight in Japan on Sunday night. It was a hard-fought, three-round decision over Olympic gold medal judoka Makoto Takimoto. He dominated from beginning to end, save for some solid submission attempts from Takimoto, but Trigg says he felt every year his age following the victory.
"Living in Vegas and making the trip over... is a lot more difficult now that I'm older than it used to be when I was a young man," admitted the Pride and UFC veteran. "Honestly, this is the first time in a long time that I've actually felt my age. I realize now that I can't go up to 100 kilos again. I have to keep my weight under 195 pounds. I have to."
Most of his premier fights in the past were as a 170-pound welterweight. That is where he excelled fighting for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he challenged longtime champion Matt Hughes twice for the title.
His past five bouts, spanning more the two and a half years, have been in the 185-pound division. He has since won and lost the Icon Sport title en route to a 4-1 record as a middleweight. Trigg knows however that despite not having to come down as far in weight doesn't mean he can be lax in his routine.
"I made some big mistakes from my last fight in December. I was supposed to fight in February, it didn't happen. I was supposed to fight in March, didn't happen. I was supposed to fight in May, it didn't happen. So I said, 'Okay, screw it. I'm just gonna to sit on the couch.' And I ate and I ate and I drank and I drank," he relayed. "And I got up to 100 kilos, 220 pounds. When my manager finally got the deal done for this, I had about seven and a half weeks. For me to go from 100 kilos to 83 kilos is a big drop.
"I can't take time off and sit on the couch. I don't have the rebound that another guy does."
And that's not to say that he was taking Takimoto, only three years Trigg's junior, lightly. "I knew Takimoto was very tough. He won an Olympic gold medal. He knows what it takes to be a champion.
"I thought that if it did go to the ground, I'd be able to pass his guard and have better jiu-jitsu than him. His jiu-jitsu game was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. His submission attempts were very good. He's very crafty."
He continued, "I've been saying this for a long time, (Takimoto) is a lot better than what people have been giving him credit for. He has a really bright future in mixed martial arts."
Asked about his own future in MMA, Trigg was certain of many goals, but undetermined on the timing, saying, "The ending for me in MMA is always to be considered pound-for-pound one of the best guys to play the game. I take one fight at a time. Even though I do have a three-fight contract here (with Sengoku promoter World Victory Road), I could be done at the end of this contract or I could be in for another 10 years. I don't know, but when I'm done, I'll move on to embassadorship and help, especially in America, help the sport grow as big as it is here in Japan.
"I think the sport, especially in America, is far behind what it is here in Japan... everyone understands what's going on in Japan, on the ground, on the feet, they understand submissions. When Takimoto had me in the Kimura, the crowd was cheering because they knew I was in a position that was dangerous. In America, more than likely, they'd be yelling to 'stand 'em up,' being stupid, not realizing the guy was almost done," explaining why he felt America behind Japan when it comes to MMA.
Having fought back and forth between the United States and Japan his entire career, that is something that Trigg wants to right in America. Not that he believes once place is better for him as a fighter than the other, but it is different and it is something he wants to address.
"It's not that it's better to fight (in Japan), but I feel like I get a little more respect over here fighting in Japan whether I win or I lose, and in America, only if I win and win big, do I get the same amount of respect."