For Japanese judoka Yoshiyuki Yoshida, the excitement to finally get his second fight in the Octagon is about to hit a fever pitch. He will headline the upcoming UFC Fight for the Troops card on Dec. 10 in Fayetteville, N.C. against Josh Koscheck.
After Karo Parisyan was forced out of their scheduled bout at UFC 88 in September just 24 hours away from the bout, Yoshida had to face disappointment instead of a challenge, but he remained hopeful for a big fight in his future.
"It was really hard. I trained very hard for that fight and of course I cut weight for that fight. So if I have a chance, I do like to ask Karo how is he doing though, but since I am not the one who pulled out of that fight, I believe I had a right to fight first (before Karo), and UFC did make a fight for me, so I really appreciate that," Yoshida told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview.
"This (opponent canceling the fight) also does happen a lot in an intense sport like MMA, so I am not thinking too much about it anymore. I just wait for UFC to decide my opponent and I train hard to win that fight. That's all now."
His new opponent, Koscheck, took a fight on short notice against ThiagoAlves at UFC 90, which could have caused a problem for the Dec. 10 fight, but everything worked out and Yoshida will still face the American Kickboxing Academy fighter.
"First of all, I would like to say thank you to Josh Koscheck for taking this fight," Yoshida stated. "Ever since I was told that my next opponent is Koscheck, for the past two months or so, I have been training thinking about just fighting Koscheck. Physical strength, wrestling, and boxing - I believe, in those departments, Koscheck is better than me, so I have been working hard on that."
In this fight, Yoshida will face not only a top 5 welterweight, but also a very physically strong wrestler that will demand his every attention.
"Ever since I signed with the UFC, I am ready to fight anybody. For me this is nothing but a huge opportunity," said Yoshida of facing Koscheck. " I would like to use my brain to fight. By utilizing (my) opponent's strength to win the fight, that is the magical formula of judo."
The other opportunity that Yoshida relishes is the chance to headline a major UFC event in only his second fight, but he remains humble as well.
"I really appreciate this opportunity UFC has created for me, but this fight is a headliner because Koscheck is a very popular fighter," Yoshida commented. "And of course, he is one of the top 10 welterweights in the world, and I am sure most people won't even think about me winning this fight. But I am telling you this now, you are going to be surprised by the outcome of fight!"
And what is Yoshida's prediction for the way the fight will finish?
"I know it's going to be a tough fight. But I want to win and survive in this very deep UFC welterweight division," Yoshida said. "And of course, I would like to finish the fight with a judo move."
He also mentioned his sponsors that keep him going during the training and preparation for this upcoming fight against Koscheck.