This article is courtesy of Mark Chinnery and reused with his permission.
Wow. What a card! Professional Shooto 7.23 from Korakuen Hall. I’m still peeling myself off the ceiling! Not enough superlatives in the world could adequately explain the action that took place in the cage this night. Shooto is always exhilarating but it would be fair to say that this card went above & beyond expectations. I thought Professional Shooto 5.12 was spectacular but this one was way up there. Without further adieu, let me summarize each of the bouts as follows (in chronological order). I was joined in the commentary box by the legendary Enson Inoue & the spirited Mizuka Koike.
Card is as follows (in chronological order):
★ Ryuichiro Fujiki (藤木 龍一郎) vs. Yuji Sato (佐藤 裕二)
2 x 5 min rounds
Considering Fujiki hadn’t been in the cage for 5 years, he did amazingly well but it wasn’t enough to fend off Sato. From the word go, Sato had Fujiki on the canvas after a punch to the face but up kicks from Fujiki saw him regain his feet. Eventually Sato was able to knock him down again & from there rained down with some vicious elbows. Fujiki looked like he had stuck his head in a hornet’s nest but he was able to fend off & wriggle enough to avoid the ref stepping in. Toward the end of the round, he actually attempted a triangle choke from below which Sato had initial troubles with but it was too little too late. The 2nd round was similar to the 1st, with Sato all over Fujiki through most of the round, only for Fujiki to luck into a back mount with 1min left on the clock but Sato was able to defend through to the final bell. A well-deserved unanimous decision to Sato and it would seem things are on the way up in the Sato household, with Emi registering her 1st pro win on the recent Professional Shooto in Osaka card.
★ Ju-sei Aquila (ゆうせい あきら) vs. Kota Shishido (宍戸 航太) 2 x 5 min rounds
After a sluggish win in his pro debut, Aquila obviously put in some work in the gym because he was much faster, had a definite strategy & looked at home on the ground. Shishido is no mug but once Aquila had him on the ground, he latched onto the arm & despite some concerted defense, was able to secure an armbar that still had Shishido in pain after the fight was over. Aquila moves into the final for Rookie of the Year honors for lightweights.
★ Akira Enomoto (榎本 明) vs. Akuri Ronda (論田 愛空隆)
2 x 5 min rounds
Both fighters came exploding out of the blocks, throwing both hands though it was Ronda who clocked his opponent flush on the chin first and after several big shots landed, he was able to secure the knockdown. As Ronda moved in for the kill, Enomoto still appeared coherent & able to defend himself but the referee thought not, stepping in at the 10sec mark of the 1st round. It took a while for Enomoto to regain his feet so perhaps the referee saw more than we did. That is one way to open the main card!!
★ Yoichi Fukumoto (福本 よう一) vs. Yoshinori Suzuki (鈴木淑徳) 2 x 5 min rounds
Unfortunately, both fighters played to their records which made for a listless fight. Fukumoto had only recorded 2 wins by KO in his 17 victories & Suzuki’s record was 5-11-1 with 9 defeats by decision. So, it was hardly surprising that after a long drawn out stalemate against the cage in both rounds, Fukumoto took it to the ground but was unable to press forward the advantage. The end result: a unanimous decision which was never in doubt. It is hard to be critical of a fighter because it takes a lot of balls to step into the cage but there doesn’t appear to be any fire in the belly for Suzuki. He seems like he is just going through the motions & holding on rather than vigorously pursuing victory. Must be highly frustrating for his trainer.
★ Ryo Okada (岡田 遼) vs Kanamonoya no Hide (金物屋の秀)
3 x 5min rounds
Okada seemed out of sorts – maybe it was a lack of confidence or his awareness that a couple of concentration lapses had cost him his two previous fights. He started cautiously & the feeling out period was protracted. However, eventually, Kanamonoya threw a haymaker, Okada got underneath it & rammed his opponent against the fence. Kanamonoya failed in an attempted neck throw, & Okada took his back. From around the corner, Okada connected with a left high kick to the head. This was followed by another high kick that had Kanamoniya on his roller skates. He ran from the pursuing Okada, turning his back & Okada landed a right hook that had his opponent sprawling to the canvas. Okada followed up with ground & pound & it was all over. After both combatants had registered a draw in their 1st meeting, all bragging rights are now with Okada.. The win had Okada in tears – tears of joy perhaps or maybe relief to be back on track.
★ Takuya Nagata (長田 拓也) vs Yoshihiro Koyama (児山 佳宏) 3 x 5min rounds
With Nagata yet to win by KO and with Koyama registering 17 of his 22 wins by decision, it looked like we might be in for a long night. Instead, it was a tradesman-like performance from Nagata. He swooped in for the one-legged tackle, got Koyama off balance & dragged him to the canvas while taking back position whereby, after initial resistance, he sank his hooks. Nagata attempted a rear-naked choke & in next to no time, it was all over. For someone so versed in the art of grappling, it was surprising that Koyama wasn’t able to defend Nagata’s moves a little better.
★ Yuji Hoshino (星野 勇二) vs. Kazumasa Majima 摩嶋 一整
3 x 5min rounds
At 41 Yrs of age, Hoshino was looking good but he was up against an opponent at the top of his game with 6 straight wins. Hoshino needed all the cards to fall in his favor if he was to have any hope but it wasn’t to be. Majima caught Hoshino’s middle kick, and in attempting to take his foe to the ground, they both crashed against the fence. In the ensuing chaos, Hoshino managed to take top position but Majima soon stood & had Hoshino on the canvas. That proved to be Hoshino’s last hurrah. Majima soon took mount position and was beating down on Hoshino’s head with his chest & shoulder. It was comical but Hoshino wasn’t laughing. Majima threw some wicked elbows and started pounding away, which kept the ref interested but with Hoshino trying to kick himself back up off the fence. he barely held on. Into the 2nd round, & perhaps Hoshino thought he had to be the aggressor as he confronted Majima, only for Majima to counter and drop Hoshino like a sack of potatoes.A first KO victory for Majima who should be destined for bigger & better things.
★ Shoko Sato (佐藤 将光) vs. Reuben Duran (ルーベン・デュラン) 3 x 5min rounds
This fight only lasted the 1 round but it ebbed & flowed throughout. Duran landed with the 1st punch but Sato’s low kick knocked Duran off balance & Sato pounded away. However, Duran soon got to his feet and he was next to land an elbow. Sato lands another low kick & Duran falls down again. Back to his feet & he proceeds to tackle Sato but Sato is able to scramble up the fence. Sato attempts a left high kick that catches Duran in the head but Duran catches the leg. While he is distracted, Sato on one leg is able to land a straight right that sends Duran to the canvas. Sato follows up with a barrage of short overhand rights & Duran slumps, prompting the referee to step in despite Duran’s protests. It was a controversial finish because 1 or 2 of the closing punches did appear to hit Duran in the back of the head.
★ Yuki Kawana (川名 雄生) vs AB (AB)
3 x 5min rounds
Was this going to be 3rd time lucky for Kawana? He made a glaring mistake at the beginning because every man & his dog knew that he was going to come charging in like a wounded bull. This included AB. AB just dodged out the way & proceeded to instigate a tackle. AB can’t complete the takedown & works furiously to get his foe to the ground. AB throws some Intermittent knees and short punches while continuing to work feverishly. Instead, it is Kawana that gets the takedown and he tries to get AB’s back, but AB is able to edge up the cage. The concerted effort at the beginning seems to have left AB’S gas tank on empty as he tried to suck in the big ones, mouth wide open. Enter the 2nd round and Kawana throws a flurry of punches. AB is reeling & is dead on his feet but continues to fight on heart as he throws punches in return. Punch after punch lands on AB’s jaw but Kawana is also looking a little worse for wear & the power of the 1st round has well & truly diminished. Until, that is, Kawana summons all his strength & throws a right uppercut that sends AB sprawling & Kawana lands his 1st belt – the Pacific Rim Champion for lightweights.
What a devastating night!! Only two decisions on the whole card & Shooto was the winner. Make sure you tune into UFC Fight Pass on October 15 for the final broadcast from Japan for 2017. It shapes up as another enthralling card with two title bouts – Hiromasa Ogikubo defending his crown against Onibouzu & Ryuto Sawada fighting Yosuke Saruta for the Vacant World Strawweight title. Other bouts include newly crowned champion Yuki Kawana up against Naoyuki Kotani & Yuki Okano fighting Shingo Suzuki. Don’t miss out. You can see it all on UFC Fight Pass.