Prospect in the Spotlight (Dec 31-Jan 1): Hiromasa Ougikubo

Introduction

Friday, December 31st, Japanese bantamweight prospect Hiromasa Ougikubo will be in action for Rizin, where he will be looking continue his winning ways against Naoki Inoue. He will be looking for another win, as Ougikubo looks to win the Rizin Bantamweight Tournament. He represents Paraestra Matusdo, a smaller camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths:

Submission Grappling: Like many Japanese fighters, Ougikubo has a background in a specific karate art. Interestingly enough, though, he’s more of a submission grappler that uses a combination of wrestling and top position to control the fight. Six of his seven finishes as a pro come by way of submission, showing that he prefers to finish on the mat. He uses his striking well to set up the takedown and then does his best work on the ground.

Experience: Ougikubo is a 30-fight veteran whose pro career dates back to 2006. He’s fought a number of notable fighters and beaten them, including exhibition victories on The Ultimate Fighter over former EFCA Champion Nkazimulo Zulu, former Tachi Palace Fights Champion Adam Antolin and current UFC contender Alexandre Pantoja. That’s the type of quality experience that prepares a fighter for any opponent laid in front of him.

Needs Improvement

Striking Defense: While Ougikubo has a karate background, some of his striking defense and intangibles could use a little bit of polishing. This is especially the case when he finds it difficult to score takedowns and is on the feet for an extended period of time. His movement could be improved and his head sometimes stays on the center line. With a striker like Naoki Inoue currently as his opponent, that striking defense will be tested.

Decision Heavy: Perhaps one of the reasons the UFC never placed Ougikubo on their roster is because most of his wins come by decision. Sixteen of his wins come by decision, including the ever-dreaded split decision in recent bouts against Shintaro Ishiwatari and Yuki Motoya. Finishes are important in this sport and in the eyes of the UFC brass, so that is a good explanation is to why he’s not with the company.

Outlook

Non-UFC Main Carder: Ougikubo is 34 years old and has been fighting for a very long time. He’s had a long career and got his shot with TUF. After the show, he didn’t get a shot with the UFC, which was puzzling given he had a good run on the show that was only ended after losing to eventual show winner Tim Elliott. I think that means that he will be relegated to main carding on non-UFC shows, namely Rizin. Ougikubo has a good gig with Rizin, and it seems like the Japanese promotion is keen on running more shows, especially now that they seem to be using domestic talent only. Ougikubo could challenge for the Rizin title and even win it, but unfortunately, I doubt we see him on a UFC roster at this point.

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