Just hours after Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson are set to defend their position atop the pound-for-pound ladder, English export, Ben Buchan (5-6) will walk to the cage at Pancrase 277 in Tokyo, Japan.
The event – which is streamed live on UFC Fight Pass – features a total of nineteen mixed martial arts contests, including three UFC-veterans, blended in amongst a host of talent from the land of the rising sun.
Buchan is an English Literature graduate who spontaneously decided to move to Japan back in 2005 following a spate of boredom post-university. The University of Hull alumnus originally started working in a language company, but has since found his calling as an English teacher.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, as I did too, why Buchan wanted to supplement his nine-to-five by competing in mixed martial arts on the weekends.
“I wanted to do something that wasn’t with the fellow English teachers. So, I joined what I thought was a Karate school, however it subsequently turned out to be a MMA gym.” Buchan explains.
Buchan was well aware of Japan’s rich history of martial arts, so he wasn’t too surprised when he found himself in at his local dojo.
“I had an inclination I might wind up doing martial arts, but I imagined it to be more along the lines of doing karate once a week at community centre, getting good at stretches and kata, not competing in a cage.
“It was really gradual to be honest. I started training twice a week in the beginner’s class – when I could be arsed to go. It was very much a casual hobby. I didn’t even know what MMA was when I joined.”
The Englishman started off his foray into MMA on a high note, winning his first four contests decisively. Unfortunately, his momentum would soon be halted, as he would go on to lose his next six bouts. The losing streak eventually concluded last November, as he strangled American Chris Hilger into submission in less than three minutes.
He now prepares for his next foe, 26-year old debutant Yuki Yamamoto (0-0). The bout will serve as a semi-final contest of Pancrase’s four-man lightweight tournament, with the final taking place in September.
Buchan will be training with several Japanese notables in preparation for Yamamoto, 3-time WEC veteran Akitoshi Tamura and former DREAM champion Hiroyuki Takaya.
Currently, the Hull native has his sights set firmly on winning the upcoming tournament, but Buchan is also very realistic about his position and future within the sport. Being on the wrong side of 30 and with more losses than wins during his professional MMA tenure, Buchan acknowledges that odds of him reaching the upper crust of the sport are slim.
“Now aged 32 and not being delusional, I am never going to be in the UFC and I will probably never make it into the Pancrase rankings. Saying that, I have already surpassed my initial expectations, so as soon as it feels good to finish, I’ll finish,” Ben reveals.
After nearly a decade in Japan, Buchan will be moving back to England next April. My final question to Buchan was to whether or not we would ever see him compete in the motherland, to which he replied with a cheeky smile, “I’d definitely consider it.”