First Shooto Event of 2017

This is a re-post of one of our friend’s post on Facebook. It is used with his permission. Thanks Mark. Shooto events are headed up by the commentary team of Mark Chinnery and Enson Inoue. They do a fantastic job of calling the fights and telling you what to expect in the fights presented by Shooto and Vale Tudo Japan. Below is a summary of the first event for 2017.

Professional Shooto 1.29
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
The first Shooto Japan event on UFC Fight Pass for 2017 & it was a night of surprises!! The underdog either got up or were perilously close to sealing victory. A breath of fresh air blew through the Shooto ranks & there will be a number of veterans going back to the drawing board. Here are the summaries of each bout, in ascending order. I was joined in the commentary box by Enson Inoue & the effervescent Mizuka Koike.

★Kiyotaka Shimizu (清水清隆) vs Kiteretsu (奇天烈) 3 x 5min rds
Not a good start to the night as Kiteretsu failed to make weight, coming in at a whopping 2.3kg over the limit on the initial weigh-in and Shimizu’s trainer refused to allow the fight to go on out of principle. Shimizu was seen setting and dismantling the cage before/after the event as a form of repentance. UFC Fight Pass viewers can see Shimizu fighting on the March 24 card.

★Yuki Yamamoto (山本 勇気) vs. Hong Seon Bin (ホン・ソンビン) 3 x 5min rounds
Prior to his fight with Hong, Yamamoto sounded out the light heavyweight champion Koshi Matsumoto for an eventual title fight. Based on his sluggish display on the night, that title fight won’t be coming around any time soon. Perhaps he should have concentrated on the fight at hand. He started off well, securing a take down with little resistance & landing some telling elbows but when the Korean pro debutant landed some blows off his own, he seemingly grew in confidence, bordering on the ostentatious at times with flying kicks & backfists. It was hard to tell who was the 20+ fight veteran & who was the novice at times. Yamamoto was able to secure takedowns but the Korean was quick to squirm back to his feet. Hong had some opportunities of his own on the ground but seemed lost on what to do, which perhaps cost him the victory. Yamamoto’s obvious flaws are is propensity to switch off during a fight. He was often seen catching a breather throughout the fight. In fact, the Korean seemed to finish the stronger and with a bit of luck, could have secured a massive upset victory. Hong should be happy with his performance but, despite his victory, Yamamoto has a lot of soul searching to do. In his previous fight, he was able to scrape to a come-from-behind victory & tonight the records will show a majority decision but it was even closer than that.

★Yoshihiro Koyama (児山佳宏) vs. Jin Aoi (青井 人) 3 x 5min rds
With 17 of Koyama’s 22 wins having come by way of decision, fight fans were expecting the fight to go the distance but Aoi had other plans. After a listless beginning, Koyama attempted a reckless take down, & Aoi was able to tag him flush on the chin as his opponent moved in. Koyama immediately crumpled to the canvas. A one-punch knock out. He still appeared to be groggy as he was helped from the cage. For Aoi, he will no longer fly under the radar and can look forward to some even bigger fights in the near future. For Koyama, at 35 years, he has to seriously consider his options. Punch of the night for Aoi!!

★Shoko Sato (佐藤将光) vs. Kazuma Sone (祖根寿麻) 3 x 5min rds
The Shooto Pacific Rim bantamweight title eliminator but from the opening bell, there was only going to be one winner. Sato was slick, moving from side to side as he bounded into his work. Sone is no slouch but like Sato’s previous opponent, they were made to look like amateurs. While Sato’s kicks reigned supreme in his last fight, Sato was letting his elbows do the talking in this one. They were ferocious & deadly accurate. One such elbow split the top of Sone’s head & blood came streaming out to the side of his face. The doctor allowed the fight to go on into the 2nd round but when Sato opened up another deep gash on his opponent’s forehead with yet another elbow, the doctor stopped the fight after much deliberation. Sato would get my MVP for this event – he lived up to his billing & fully deserves his title chance.
★Junji Sarumaru (猿丸ジュンジ) vs. Yosuke Saruta (猿田洋祐) 3 x 5 min rounds
One of the most highly anticipated fights but one of the most disappointing. Perhaps it was the thought of a world title chance that saw each fighter go into their shell. In particular, I have never seen Sarumaru so hesitant before. There were flashes of briliance with Sarumaru narrowly missing with a big right knee to the head but it was Saruta’s level changing that stood out. He is lightening fast with his movement & constantly had Sarumaru on the back foot. Maybe it was Saruta’s speed that saw Sarumaru reluctant to close the gap. One judge scored it in favour of Saruta & he could be considered a little unlucky not to secure victory having seemingly done enough. In the end it was a majority draw, and it is likely that Saruta will progress to the title fight on the back of the lone judge finding it for Saruta.

★Yoshihiro Maeda (前田吉朗) vs. Hayato (覇彌斗) 3 x 5min rounds
This one was a tough one to call. Maeda had the dominant position on the ground for most of the round but Hayato held onto his neck for dear life, alleviating any advantage Maeda might have had. Round 2 saw more grappling but no telling blows from either fighter. Which left Hayato needing to win the last round (at least we thought) to keep up his winning streak. He set out well, securing top position on the ground for the 1st half of the round but Maeda reversed fortunes in the latter half as he attempted to secure various knee & ankle locks. The bell ruined those plans. Hayato looked forlorn as he slumped on the fence at the end of the fight, only to see the judges score it 3-0 in his favour. Maeda was understandably upset at the result. Upon reflection, Maeda attempted various submissions without succeeding which conceivably didn’t score with the judges while Hayato attempted to land punches while on his feet & also when vulnerable on the ground. Perhaps this is what swayed the judges.

★Yutaka Saito (斎藤 裕) vs. Mike Grundy (マイク・グランディ) 3 x 5min rounds)
Shooto lightweight champion Saito was fighting out of his weight class but was keen as ever to avenge his bitter defeat last time up. And he knew that Grundy was a ground specialist & it was obvious what his tactics would be. The trouble is knowing & preventing them are two different things. Meanwhile, when Grundy disrobed, he revealed he was not going to be no chump. He was prepared as ever & soon had Saito on the ground, squirming to avoid any significant damage. Saito did have his moments in the 1st & 2nd rounds as he landed some ferocious knees to the mid-drift in the tussles while standing but on the ground, he had no answer. In the 1st round & early part of the 2nd, he was able to avoid telling damage by backing up to the fence but mid-way through the 2nd & the 3rd, the fence ceased to be his friend. Grundy was unable to land anything of significance but he was the dominant fighter & deserved his victory. On the other hand, Saito will have to do some soul searching to see what he can do to recapture that winning feeling.

Well, what a night! Two veterans licking their wounds after falling to the new generation of fighters, a pro-debutant coming perilously close to securing victory and just pure finesse from Shoko Sato. The March 24 card looks even more promising and I look forward to bringing this one to you live on UFC Fight Pass.

About the Author

Jeremy Deschner

Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do from the Texas Karate Institute, and Host of Pancrase Radio Podcast. Commentator for Pancrase MMA on UFC FIghtPass. Now training in Brazilian Jiujitsu in Japan.
Pancrase Radio Podcast is available on Stitcher and ITunes.
Twitter: @mmajpn1 @jiujitsu_Jedi @PancraseRadio