Friday, April 12th, American welterweight prospect James Nakashima will be in action in the Philippines, where he will be looking to continue his impressive undefeated streak against top ONE welterweight Luis Santos. He will be looking to score yet another win, as Nakashima looks to become the top contender to the ONE Welterweight Championship. Nakashima represents The MMA Lab, a world renowned camp out of Arizona. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Grinder: Nakashima is an absolute grinder, which is why he’s such a dangerous opponent. He’s able to be such a menacing grinder because he’s aggressive in his pursuit. He takes the center of the cage and makes sure to move forward. Though he’s not overly aggressive or damage-wise dangerous, but he keeps his opponent’s back against the cage. He’s the hunter. When he gets close enough, he grabs a hold of his opponent and leans on them. His pressure tires out his opponents, which allows him to outmuscle and take them down. And because he has such strong cardio, Nakashima is able to do this for a 15-minute or 25-minute scrap.
Strong Competition: While we will criticize Nakashima for his lack of finishing in a minute, there is no doubt that Nakashima has fough tough competition from the onset of his pro career. He’s undefeated at 10-0, so it’s obvious that he has the talent to fight at the highest of levels. His biggest wins have come over current UFC roster members Chance Recountre and Kyle Stewart, as well as future Contender Series participant Derrick Krantz (in a foul-filled bout), Bellator/WSOF vet Larue Burley and formerly undefeated prospect Raimond Magomedaliev.
Lack of Finishes/Action: As mentioned, Nakashima’s biggest knock is his lack of finishing prowess. In fact, all 10 of his pro victories have come by decision (9 unanimous, 1 split). He leaves his fights in the hands of the judges, which means that really close fights, even ones that he may have won, could turn into losses whether they be robberies or clear Nakashima victories. Not only that, but he’s not the most active fighter, especially in terms of striking. He’s got low output on the feet, which is how he could give away rounds despite his take-the-center style. Yes, he’s found his way to the ONE roster, but Dana White doesn’t like non-finishing point fighters like Nakashima, which is probably why he let this top prospect sign elsewhere.
One Champion/UFC Top-25: There is no doubt Nakashima is a well-rounded fighter that can compete with top-level competition. That will again be proven when he fights Sapo Santos. He may be the best welterweight that ONE possesses right now, even more so than their champion. That’s why I believe you will see Nakashima with ONE gold around his waist by year’s end. Not only that, with his continued improvements with the MMA Lab, I feel in several years, he will get his shot with the UFC and be a top-25 guy. I am hesitant to go beyond top-25 because of my concerns with his lack of finishing, but there’s no doubt he could beat most on the roster right now…by decision.