Photo Credit: Pancrase

Nothing is Too Early for UFC Japan’s Daichi Abe

The 25-year-old former welterweight King of Pancrase Daichi Abe will make his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 117 in Japan at the Saitama Super Arena against South Korean power striker Hyun-Gyu Lim.

There have been many spectacular grapplers to enter the Ultimate Fighting Championship arena from Japan but knockout artists are nonexistent. That will change when Daichi Abe enters the Octagon on September 23 (September 22 in North America) at UFC Fight Night 117.

The Niigata Prefecture native embarked on his martial arts journey in preliminary school with judo. He was immersed in this combat sport until his high schools days even attaining the title of Junior Judo National Champion.

After becoming an elite judoka, he turned his attention to cultivating his striking at the young age of eighteen. He dabbled in both boxing and kickboxing but focused more on the latter and turned pro after only three amateur bouts.

During his professional kickboxing career is when he showed glimpses of the power he possessed in his fists and won the 2011 Rising Rookies Heavyweight Cup and the 2014 J-Network Light Heavyweight Title. Abe had a total of fourteen matches and won ten with seven coming by the way of knockout.

The 25-year-old eventually transitioned to mixed martial arts shortly thereafter and decided that Pancrase would be the ideal place to rise up the ranks. At the amateur level, he continued his reign of terror by vaporizing all four opponents with devastating strikes earning him an intimidating reputation.

At Pancrase 277 in early 2016, the young up-and-comer made his pro debut and pulverized Ryosuke Igarashi in 24 seconds. He popped off four in a row in a span of ten months, as a result, catching the eyes of spectators and Pancrase officials simultaneously.

Just five months later, Abe was standing in the cage opposite the welterweight King of Pancrase Hiromitsu Miura as the title-challenger at Pancrase 288. Even though he was an emerging prospect for the organization, many felt he was put in the spotlight too soon. However, he proved everyone wrong with a dominant performance leading to a second-round stoppage.

“Yeah, I know some people were talking aboutĀ it was too early for me to challenge for the title,” Daichi Abe states. “I was very happy to finish the fight by knockout against a boxer and wipe out any doubts.”

When he looks back on the night he won the title and assesses his display of violence in the cage, he sees all positives and avoids the negatives.

“The fight gave me a good lesson for me to move forward. I will focus more on polishing my strengths rather than covering up the weaknesses,” he says.

Photo Credit: Pancrase

Now that Abe is a full-time mixed martial artist and focuses on all aspects of the game. He credits a lot of his performance to his many years of experience in judo and kickboxing. Not only from the techniques standpoint but also the mental game has been cultured throughout the years to allow him to keep his composure in stressful circumstances.

That is why after the title-clinching main event, Abe grabbed the mic and expressed his desire to jump ship and test the waters of the UFC. It was a bold statement by a fighter that just won the title and had only five professional fights to his credit.

Despite many of the top fighters like Kyoji Horiguchi and Shintaro Ishiwatari staying within the country and fighting for RIZIN, Abe is determined to have a different path in his career and challenge himself in the world’s biggest organization to become the best fighter on the planet.


Three weeks after winning the welterweight strap, he was signed to the UFC like he had asked to be and will make his debut at UFC Fight Night 117 at the legendary Saitama Super Arena. Again, the skeptics came out the woodwork and questioned the acquisition but this time it was on a global scale. Abe is realistic about the situation and does not let the hate affect him at all.

“Of course, I am aware of [the skeptics],” he stresses. “Only thing I can say is to please watch my fight at UFC Japan. All of you that doubt me will know who I am after the fight.”

Photo Credit: UFC

Stepping in across the cage is the well-known South Korean brawler Hyun-Gyu Lim that has his back against the wall with two consecutive knockout losses. Since he is extremely big for the weight division and carries a long reach advantage, the UFC did not do Abe any favors by giving him this dangerous adversary in his promotional debut.

Yet none of those things seem to bother Abe at all and he concentrates on what he can accomplish in the fight first and foremost.

“It does not matter to me that he might get cut from the UFC if he loses. Only thing I know is, he will come to fight,” Abe says. “I do not pay too much attention to my opponent, I just focus on my game and my fight in the Octagon.”

He is very confident going into this fight against Lim due to the fact that he has competed in 1-on-1 combat sports since a young age. He is pleased and honored to fight in the UFC and for the fans around the world. But this is extra special since it will be in front of his countrymen and they can witness a great start to his climb up the ladder in the welterweight division.

“I would like to be #1 in combat sportsĀ since I already have a title in judo and kickboxing.”

With a clear goal in mind before heading into UFC Fight Night 117 against the most dangerous opponent to date, Daichi Abe will get a chance to show everyone that nothing comes too fast in life.

Facebook Comments

John Hyon Ko is an Asia-based combat sports journalist as well as the host and producer of Kumite Radio.