Having been over a year since his last fight after being caught up in the combat sports ban imposed on Edmonton following the death of UFC veteran Tim Hague in 2017, featherweight Craig Shintani is eager to return to action before the end of 2018.
Though it’s been since June of 2017 since he’s last fought MMA, Shintani has managed to maintain a busy schedule and get as close to active competition as he possibly can.
“I’ve been doing my best to stay busy with Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, making sure I’ve been training all year and not getting out of shape, and even things like coaching,” Shintani told MMAWeekly.com.
“I have a big group of amateur guys coming up in MMA and kickboxing, so just being in the ring, going through fight camp, going through the weight cuts, and all the emotions of a normal fight camp have helped to keep me feel like I’m involved as much as I can be.”
Shintani feels like due to spurts of inactivity in his career prior to this most recent one that he is not too worried about the time off affecting him adversely.
“I think ring rust is only really relevant if you fight often and then you have a long layoff,” said Shintani. “In my career I’ve had long gaps in between fights. So being used to having long gaps makes this one not much different. It’s only a few months different than average. I don’t feel like ring rust will affect me at all.”
Following over a year off, Shintani (7-2) will return to action on Friday in Enoch, Alberta, Canada, to face Clay Dixon (5-1) in a main card 145-pound championship fight at Unified MMA 35.
“I feel like Clay is a good wrestler, but he’s working with a boxing style gym now, so I expect to see a lot of both from him,” Shintani said. “I think it’s going to be tough for him because I train in all facets (of MMA).
“I think those holes that they are missing in training, I am not. So I look forward to exploiting him in those areas, and also having an advantage in the transition game. I’m looking to show some new things, stick to my game plan, and from start to finish it’s going to be a smashing.”
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Having had several bouts of inconsistency in his career prior, Shintani is focused on his task at hand at Unified 35, and will only think about things beyond that once his bout with Dixon is over.
“I like to go fight by fight,” said Shintani. “I think if you look too far down the road bad things happen. I will show the utmost respect to Clay, and when the job is done we’ll move on to the next one.
“I do want to stay busy, I know that much. My goal is to do as much as I can next year competition-wise, but this fight is a big task, so I’m going to focus solely on this for now.”