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UFC Japan: Land of the Rising Stars

Coming from Osaka’s notorious Nishinari district—Japan’s largest ghetto—Kiichi Kunimoto's goal as a 15-year-old kid was to make it as a pro-skater. However, when skating didn't pan out as he'd hoped, he decided to try his luck in mixed martial arts when he turned 24. 

His mentor, Yoshihiro Akiyama, is also from Osaka and is one of the biggest international stars in the sport. His MMA legend has carried him into careers in modeling, acting, and singing. Both fighters have their eyes on a UFC title and are scheduled to compete on Sep. 20th at Saitama Super Arena. 

VICE Japan spends some time in Tokyo and Osaka with both fighters inside and outside of their gyms.

 

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