Takafumi Otsuka talks training with mostly kickboxers ahead of quarter-final bout against “monster” Khalid Taha

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This week RIZIN Fighting Federation held open workouts for all of the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix quarter-finalists.

DEEP champion Takafumi Otsuka (23-13-1, 1NC) focused on very light sparring for the media in Japan, explaining that it was an “easier” option than hitting pads or really showing off his improved striking.

The media in attendance got nothing new from Otsuka, who claims he has been primarily working with kickboxers leading up to December 29.

“I have been sparring with kickboxers such as Krush -67kg Champion Keita Makihira, Yutaro Yamauchi and Takumi Tosaka along with his teammates from HALEO TOP TEAM. They all spar hard and throw tons of kicks, so it was a lot to adapt to.”

Takafumi Otsuka’s quarter-final opponent, Khalid Taha, has received plenty of praise from the Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan native.

“My opponent (Khalid Taha) looks like a monster in terms of his physique, and I know that he hits hard. He showed that he is not shy in fully utilizing the RIZIN rules (soccer ball kicks and knees to the head on the ground), but it’s more about focusing on myself than my opponent.”

The current DEEP Champion has been undefeated in his last six outings since a 2014 TKO loss to Shintaro Ishiwatari on NYE.

On December 29, if Otsuka gets past Taha and Ishiwatari gets past Petshi, the two will rematch in the tournament semi-finals.

Otsuka has expressed interest in the Ishiwatari rematch and wants to get that loss back, but, as of right now, all of his focus lies on Taha.

“Honestly I haven’t been thinking about the rematch at all. I’m sure I will be thinking about it like crazy if I win on the 29th, but right now I am focused on getting past my upcoming opponent.”

The RIZIN World Grand-Prix is one of the most exciting events in the world for true MMA fans. To Otsuka, however… this is just another fight.

“I’ve always wanted to get back to the big show, but now that I’m back, I don’t feel anything special, it’s just another fight for me. Despite the outcome, I hope I can eat lots of good food on New Year’s Day.”

The Bantamweight Quarter Finals will take place on December 29th, and the winners will advance to the Semi-Finals and Finals will be held 2 days later on New Year’s Eve. The Grand prize money for this tournament is 15,000,000 Japanese Yen, 2nd place 3,000,000 Japanese Yen, and two, 3rd place contestants will receive 1,000,000 Japanese Yen.


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