Will Ikuhisa "The Punk" Minowa ever be considered one of the best fighters in the world?
It's highly doubtful, but Minowa has already earned his spot inside the hearts of the MMA faithful for his warrior mentality.
He began his professional MMA career back in 1996, where his combined record was 3-9-3 after 15 fights, including a loss to the late Evan Tanner. He was more than likely tossed into the tomato can genre of fighters almost instantly. Many athletes would of hung up the gloves at that point, but not Minowa, he strove on with his never-give-in attitude.
Minowa has since gone on to compete in 66 more matches while compiling a record of 43-30-8.
It isn't the most spectacular mark, but the way he has achieved this record is often disregarded.
Minowa often approaches any fight the same way that Wanderlei Silva once did; he'll take on any fighter, in any weight class as well as in any set of rules. A path that most fighters tend to avoid, despite any claims they might make.
Through this passage, Minowa has fought a smorgasbord of fighters: the above-mentioned Tanner, Daiju Takase, Semmy Schilt, Chris Lytle, Keiichiro Yamamiya, Paulo Filho, Kiyoshi Tamura (twice), Ricardo Almeida, Quinton Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Kazushi Sakuraba, Mirko Filipovic, and Masakatsu Funaki.
He's even had his share of freak-show matches with Paulo César da Silva, Zuluzinho, Bobb Sapp, and most recently with Hong Man Choi.
Nobody is proclaiming Minowa to be the most technical fighter out there, or even in the same ball park for that matter, but he does come in with a solid game-plan for every fight, especially with the freak-show fights.
At yesterday's Dream 11 event, Minowa came into the Super Hulk semifinal match severely under-sized against "The Techno Goliath."
Despite this disadvantage, Minowa patiently executed his plan of staying out of Choi's range while making preposterous attempts to take the giant down. He scored a few take downs through the first round although was rarely able to maintain a secure position afterwards.
As the second round began, Minowa stuck to his blueprint for success. After what seemed to be another nit-witted take down attempt, Minowa found himself switching positions where snagged Choi's giant leg and eventually tapped him out with a heel hook.
Minowa's next opponent will be Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in the Super Hulk finals at an upcoming Dream event.
Will a victory be rest-assured for Minowa?
One thing is for certain, despite a so-so record, Ikuhisa Minowa won't back down and he will definitely bring his A-game to this fight, making "The Punk" well-deserving of anybody's respect, but that is up to the reader to decide.