“Tyjani Beztati will be the next jewel in my crown” It's not a statement that you hear from a typical Japanese fighter but RISE lightweight champion Kaito Ono is crystal clear about who he wants to go after next in his quest to become the ultimate world champion in his weight class.
Having cleaned up the entire division at RISE for multiple years on end - he’s unbeaten in 17 of his last fights and has 58 career fights already - he feels ready at 26 years of age to try and accomplish the same in the other international associations as well. He knows who his targets are: the aforementioned Glory lightweight champion Tyjani Beztati and One Championship's Christian Lee.
But before that next step, Kaito is currently recovering from a broken ankle, an injury he picked up in his last fight over Korean Lee Sung-Hyun at the end of last month. He had time to catch up with Warrior Code earlier this week.
Kaito is confident that the recovery will take about a month with some extra time for physiotherapy and hopes to be back in training and in the ring by the time summer arrives. “All my professional fights so far have been in Japan and I am ready to take that next step in my career and head out to Europe to compete at Glory.” Kaito has had some experience with this organisation already as he took part in some of the cross-organisational tournaments and feels that it’s the right next step in his career.
The number of wins Kaito has amassed behind his name at this stage in his career is truly a remarkable achievement and is something that not a lot of fighters will be able to top in their careers. However, the Japanese fighter seems unmoved by this and prefers to take one match at the time without looking too much at how much better he probably is than his competition. “The record is what it is, I guess it’s something that people get excited about. The more I keep winning, the more talk there will be about breaking records, and that attracts bigger audiences which in itself is a great thing.”
However, saying that you want the scalps of your fellow world champions in the other organisations from the other side of the world is one thing but Kaito knows that he has his work cut out for him. Pretty much all of Kaito’s experience and victories have been accumulated in matches against fellow country men, and more broadly, other Asian fighters. Whilst there is no suggestion that these victories count for less, the physical difference compared to European fighters is something that Kaito will need to be aware of. “I think Japanese fighters are more in touch with the spiritual side of things and have an incredibly strong mindset. Europeans, on the other hand, both because of their genetic physical attributes but also because of the way their philosophy around training has been developed have a stronger edge on the physical side. Both are equally important in the fight but I know where I have work to do in the coming months”.
Kaito tells Warrior Code that some conversations between his and Tyjani’s team about what a possible match-up could look like and when have been going in the background already but there is nothing concrete yet. Continue to follow Warrior Code as this story unfolds.