Victory came quickly for Ryuto “Dragon Boy” Sawada, but it left the Japanese strawweight hungry for more.
Sawada’s picture-perfect start has the young 23-year-old excited for his future in The Home Of Martial Arts.
The Tokyo resident, who made a name for himself in Shooto, has gone from competing in smaller venues to debuting in front of thousands of cheering spectators at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
That change clearly did not faze “Dragon Boy,” as he dominated from start to finish in his tangle in Thailand.
Sawada executed a game plan that handed him control of the match and let him work the finish he was looking for.
“It went just as I’d practiced in training. I put on pressure when standing, cut him off in the cage, and I was glad to get my specialty choke finish after the takedown. As soon as he gave me his back, I went for it,” the rising Japanese star explained.
Ever since he earned a spot on the Evolve Fight Team, Sawada has taken his martial arts skills to the next level.
With mentors and instructors like wrestling guru Heath Sims, boxing veteran Drian Francisco, and BJJ genius Teco Shinzato at the helms of Evolve’s training program, the Japanese athlete’s game has become more multi-faceted as he develops.
Not even a year into his career with ONE, Sawada has already set a new record – his 69-second submission win ranks as the fastest submission ever in the strawweight division.
His lightning-quick victory over Calim may have denied fans a glimpse of the other improvements “Dragon Boy” has made. But the Japanese sensation also has elite wrestling skills that would have likely caught the attention of ONE’s matchmakers had his bout gone longer.
There may still be time to see Sawada in the Circle again before the year ends, however.
With announcements about ONE: CENTURY in Tokyo in the news recently, it could be the perfect homecoming for the youngster to star in.
Considering the idea of competing on home soil and possibly celebrating a win with family and friends, it is hard to imagine Sawada passing on such an opportunity.
“My debut this time went well, and I left a strong impact. I’m not injured, and I’d like to fight again soon. If possible, I’d love to be on the ONE: CENTURY card in Japan this October,” he said.
The eyes of the martial arts world will be on Tokyo this fall. And for Sawada, it may just come down to whether the young Japanese athlete can stand the gaze. Who is to say he cannot? After all, he has proven it in the Circle already.
ONE Championship’s next event, ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH, takes place on 6 September in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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