Lyoto Machida made fans and fellow fighters reconsider their stance on karate during his impressive run at the UFC light heavyweight title.
Now, UFC newcomer Katsunori Kikuno is ready to show the world why karate is here to stay when he makes his debut this weekend.
“Where most fighters adopt technique from boxing and Muay Thai, Lyoto was able to become UFC champ using his karate skills, so I consider him as one of the greatest fighters,” Kikuno told UFC.com through a translator. “Including myself, he has provided a dream to all these people that love karate.”
However, Kikuno is quick to differentiate his style from Machida.
“My fight style is different from Lyoto; it’s an old Okinawa Karate style,” he said. It’s kind of funny for me to say this, but it’s a comic book-like mysterious style.”
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds like Kikuno’s experience in the martial art has prepared him well for the level of competition in the UFC.
“In Kyokushin Karate tournaments, with bare hands and bare feet, all competitors must fight multiple times in one day, and each fight may even go to an extra round, so it’s a very tough competition. I believe these experiences got me stronger both mentally and technically.”
Kikuno is currently 21-5-2 in his MMA career, and is on a five fight winning streak. He is a former DEEP Lightweight Champion and the DEEP 2009 Lightweight Tournament Champion.
A karate and judo black belt, he’ll be making his UFC debut against Quinn Mulhern (18-3) on January 4 at UFC Fight Night 34.