“You never know what you are capable of until you put yourself to the test.”
Interview by: Eric Hostetter
On Saturday, January 21, 2012, Elite MMA’s Robert Yamashita (1-0) squares off against Kaileb Cummings (3-2) of Death Row MMA in one of four amateur title fights of the evening. In lieu of Robert’s, TheCagedoor caught up with him to see how he is preparing for this title shot.
Yamashita: I am an instructor at the Baytown location of Elite MMA. I am pretty laid back but I love to compete. It is like there are two different me’s. One is pretty chill and go with the flow and the other hates to lose and is an animal. I just had a new addition to our family. We have 4 month old baby boy named Kai and we are adjusting to having a baby in the house. It’s hectic but that’s how my life has always been and it’s become normal for me.
TCD: What kind of animal are we talking about? Hopefully not a kitten.
Yamashita: Hah! It is funny you say that because my coach gave me the nickname “The Big Cat”. So when I’m in the cage I channel my inner lion, tiger, or liger.
TCD: Interesting. I had no idea that you had that nickname. How long have you been training?
Yamashita: I have been with Elite MMA going on 4.5 years under Jordan Rivas and Frost Murphy who are under Eric Williams and Hai Nguyen. Before that I was training under my adopted dad, Joseph Cantu, since I was 9. I trained in Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate and BJJ.
TCD: What motivated you to compete in this sport?
Yamashita: The competitive nature of the sport and just seeing how far I can push myself and improve my martial arts. You never know what you are capable of until you put yourself to the test.
Yamashita: This training camp has been awesome. Our coaches really push for us as not only fighters, students or even coaches but just as individuals to be in communication with one another. I told them I want to train hard but still be able to teach my classes with a smile, and it has happened that way. The one thing that I didn’t want to be disrupted was my home life and our students, and I have great coaches and training partners who have helped me to achieve a different level.
TCD: What is your favorite thing to practice on?
Yamashita: I love training everything just to better myself but my absolute favorite is sport bjj. With the gi, there are just so many opportunities that you and your partner need to be careful with. You could be winning and make one wrong grip and you get taken out. Like I said, I don’t like to lose and so when I get tapped, which is a lot by my coaches and training partners, it me makes go back, think, and reevaluate what happened so it doesn’t happen again.
TCD: What would be a short term goal of yours within the realm of MMA?
Yamashita: My short term goal is this fight and winning the title. There is nothing else in front of me other than that right this second.
TCD: How excited are you to be fighting under the lights of the Houston Arena Theater for the Legacy Amateur Middleweight Title against Kaileb Cummings of Death Row MMA?
Yamashita: I am super excited to be fighting for Legacy at the Arena Theater. I think that this venue is by far the best venue for show casing fights in Houston. I’ve heard that this guy is tough and I know we are both coming to fight so it should be a good fight for both of us.
TCD: How do you envision your match going?
Yamashita: I’ve seen a couple of his fights, so I am preparing for what I have seen, but it’s a fight and I am prepared to fight wherever I need to come away with the title. I am ready.
TCD: Is there anyone that you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
Yamashita: Man, there is such a huge support system that I need to thank. It would take a lot more of your time then I think you want to write! I would like to thank my wife and my family for being my rock on the hard nights of training. Next are all my training partners and coaches at Elite MMA who have helped me through breakdowns to push to breakthroughs. I am in debt to these guys and I will be repping Elite always. I would also to give a shout out to my sponsors Predator Gis and St. Michaels Emergency Room.
TCD: Thank you Robert for your time. Good luck to you in your middleweight title match against Kaileb Cummings at Legacy Amateur Series on January 21st.
Yamashita: Thank you TCD.