Last December, BJJ and judo black belt Hideki “Shrek” Sekine (7-1) learned something the hardest way there is.
“I learned the importance of striking,” the Japanese concedes.
Unfortunately, he came to that conclusion after the most important bout of his career. The then-undefeated hulking heavyweight challenged ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera for the title on his opponent’s home turf of Manila, Philippines, at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION.
From the opening bell, the match did not go according to plan. “At the beginning, I was hit by a high kick,” the man they call “Shrek” recalls, admitting he was hurt as a result. “My left eye blacked out, and I could not measure the distance.”
Vera kept the pressure on, connecting with a few clinch knees before landing several more powerful kicks on Sekine. Eventually, one of those kicks crushed the challenger and knocked him to the ground, and the Filipino heavyweight followed up with ground strikes en route to a TKO victory.
“I was thinking of grabbing a hold of him when he got tired, but he did not tire,” Sekine says of his doomed strategy. Sekine may not have left the Mall Of Asia Arena with the belt that night, but he left with some battle wounds that took time to heal.
The loss was even tougher to handle, because the Shizuoka, Japan, resident had left a promising career as a police officer behind for the opportunity to chase his martial arts dreams.
Still, even with the injuries and defeat, he never once regretted his decision.
“I am completely retired from police work and concentrating on martial arts,” he reinforces. “Martial arts is the tool to connect with others in my life. It brings me lots of friends, shows me the right way of living, and it is such a happiness for me to dedicate my life to martial arts.”
With such an unbreakable spirit, it is not surprising that Sekine had a quick recovery. Only a month removed from the loss, he was back to strength training. Two months after that, the BJJ black belt returned to the mats, and was tapping his training partners out once again.
Also, “Shrek” has competed in a slew of other contests. He recently won the Asia & Oceania ADCC Trials in the +99kg division, and earned the right to participate at the ADCC World Championships later this year. In addition to that, he won two matches in a custom-rules promotion Ganryujima, and won the Punctuation Championship.
However, on Saturday, 16 September, the Japanese mammoth will resume his career with ONE Championship, and the world will find out just how much he truly learned about striking from his match against Vera.
To prepare for the battle with Ngalani, “Shrek” follows a fairly-regimented training schedule. He starts in the morning with strength and conditioning, takes it easy by walking his dog in the afternoon, and focuses on his jiu-jitsu and kickboxing at his longtime gym, Bonsai Bull Terrier, in the night.
This time, Sekine is not looking to fall victim to another elite world-class striker, and he is not comfortable with getting a decision win.
Simply put, he wants to finish Ngalani, and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is truly a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division.
“I will combine my techniques to defeat him,” the Japanese behemoth states. “I think I will strike him down, or submit him with the right position. I want to continue to win in a good way, and I want to compete against Vera someday again.”