Manazo Kobayashi: Japanese star in survival mode?

Manazo Kobayashi will defend her RISE flyweight title against Tessa de Kom on May 28th. Warrior Code spoke to her about her expectations.
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Published on Feb 2, 2023, 6:58:25 AM

Manazo Kobayashi, better known as Dynamite girl, will defend her flyweight title which she has holds for Japanese kickboxing organisation RISE against Dutch fighter Tessa de Kom in May. Kobayashi has been the dominant and defending champion in this weight category at kickboxing organisation RISE since 2020

De Kom, however, will feel confident going into the fight knowing that she has beaten Kobayashia already in their previous encounter which happened at Glory Rivals 4 in Tokyo last December. 

Kobayashi, on the other hand, may feel that this is one of those career defining moments as she goes into this fight with two consecutive losses. Both losses happened in cross-organisational match ups; where one kickboxing organisation lets its fighters compete with others of other organisations. The one against de Kom mentioned here already and before that against another Dutch born Tiffany van Soest, the current flyweight champion at Glory, earlier in October. 

Kobayashi is full of ambition and is next May the moment where she turns things around? Warrior Code reached out to find out.

Kobayashi with her team

How do you feel about the upcoming fight with Tessa de Kom?

“I accept my defeat and acknowledge that Tessa was a better fighter in our previous encounter. Equally, I also realise that I have never lost to the same person twice in a row so going into this next fight, the stakes are high. Not only because my title at RISE is on the line but also because no fighter wants to have three consecutive losses behind their name. In short, I will do whatever it takes and show up in May as the strongest fighter I have ever been.”

Is there something you feel you could have done differently in your previous match up? In other words, where do you think the opportunities lie for you in your next fight?

I was simply too reactive and fought too defensive. I realise that what is important in these cross organisational fights where you square off against all sorts of different nationalities and combat philosophies, you need to get yourself into training camps outside of your country a whole lot more. I am in the process of setting up a training camp outside of Japan, maybe in Thailand where I have been before, and hope we can make it work.

It seems that the likes of Glory, Enfusion and RISE have the ambition to organise more and more events together. Squaring off against more foreign fighters like de Kom and van Soest also helps to put you on the international map. Where do you see Manazo Kobayashi in the next year or two?

What van Soest said to you last year really resonated with me. It actually made me quite emotional as well. As “champions” we have a duty to defend our titles at our own organisations but we live for the really big matches. The ones in which we as champions square off against the other title holder to decide who is the undisputed champion. I was honoured that van Soest, who has been so successful at Glory, said that she also lives for these big fights with the likes of me.

My first obstacle now to overcome is Tessa de Kom in May. I would then dream of a rematch against van Soest. I see myself fighting one more year full time in Japan and head out onto the world stage in Europe and the US in 2024.

Kobayashi's signature high kick

Manazo Kobayashi will defend her RISE flyweight title against Tessa de Kom on May 28th. Stay tuned for more updates.

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