They’ve been there before, and they’re both looking to go there again.
Shintani, 28, was previously scheduled to face Clay Dixon back at Unified MMA 35 for the Unified MMA featherweight title before Dixon withdrew minutes before the fight for personal reasons. He also defeated Chris Day at XFFC 21 to take home the XFFC interim featherweight title.
Shintani said while the belt would be a nice reward, he’s not focused so much on the hardware as he is on having a good performance.
“I’ve just kind of had it in my head that, belt or not, I just have to go in there and do my job. If I finish the fight and look over and there’s a belt coming my way, I’ll be very happy,” said Shintani in an interview with MMA Empire.
“At the end of the day, I just have to go in there and perform, and that’s it. If I do what I know I’m capable of doing, I just get to celebrate with a cool belt around my waist.”
Gower, 33, is fresh off winning the Havoc FC bantamweight title at Havoc FC 13, submitting Rick Pfeifer in the second round en-route to his first career title.
Now looking to become a double champion for Havoc FC, Gower said he’s excited to potentially accomplish a rare feat in MMA, jumping up two weight classes for a shot at a second strap.
“I think that’s the main thing that makes this so exciting, to have the potential to win a title two weight classes above the one I currently have. There’s not many I’ve seen that have done that,” said Gower in an interview with MMA Empire.
“It’s actually kind of more motivation to get in there and win, and I feel it kind of puts more pressure on him too. He’s fighting a guy that’s two weight classes below, and losing wouldn’t look too good. It just takes more pressure off me.”
Back to Lightweight for Shintani
Shintani has bounced around between featherweight and lightweight throughout his career, while Gower is making the jump up two weight classes for this fight, regularly fighting at bantamweight.
Shintani said he’s interested to see just how much smaller Gower will be compared to the opponents he’s used to, and also expects to have a big strength advantage come fight night.
“I feel like coming up two weight classes my strength will be noticeable,” said Shintani.
“I think I’ll feel a lot different to him than he will to me. He’s going to feel my strength and size difference, and it’ll be too much for him.”
With six of his eight wins coming before the final bell, Shintani has shown his ability to finish and put on exciting fights.
And whether it ends up being a five-round war or another exciting finish, Shintani said he’s expecting another entertaining fight.
“Corey’s a southpaw and likes to strike primarily, so we’re game-planning for that,” said Shintani
“I expect a tough, fast-paced fight and I expect Corey to bring it.”
Gower Expecting Action
With five of his wins coming by stoppage, Gower has also shown his ability to finish fights throughout his career.
And with Shintani possessing the same killer instinct and knack for finishing fights, Gower said this will be a fight fans won’t want to miss.
“It’s going to be an exciting fight. He doesn’t back up; he moves forward and likes to bang,” said Gower.
“I hope he wants to stand and bang. He’s a good fighter and has a good record, so I’m super excited.”
While he regularly trains out of Black Box MMA in Duncan, Gower spent this training camp in Hawaii at Gracie Technics and Hawaii Elite MMA, working alongside the likes of UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, as well as Yancy Medeiros.
Gower said being able to put in a full training camp with elite fighters like Holloway and Medeiros has him more prepared than ever for this fight.
“It’s very helpful. I’ve trained there before for five weeks and they just had a lot of good things they do for this specific fight I’m taking,” said Gower.
“Holloway’s takedown defence is second to none, so we worked a lot on that because I feel like Craig’s going to try and push me up against the cage and take me down. We had a lot of good rounds and I think it’s going to be very helpful.”
“I’d like thank my sponsors (Clinch Fight Shop, Pierce McAllister), my coaches (Aaron Kapiczowski, Julian Fischer), my teammates, and my amazing wife Sara.” Follow Shintani on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM
“I’d like to thank my sponsors (Klean Detailz, MAC Concrete, Sticks and Stones), my coaches (Josh Spong, Ron Pearce, Shane Jung, Blake McVittie), Gracie Technics, Hawaii Elite, and Zuma Martial Arts.” Follow Gower on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM