This artical was written by Mark Chinnery and reposted with his permission.
Professional Shooto 3.25 is now over & admittedly, the card might not have lived up to its billing on this occasion but there was still plenty to cheer about with some outstanding performances. Let’s get to the summaries of each bout as follows. I was joined in the commentary box by the legendary Enson Inoue.
Card was as follows (in chronological order):
★ Hiroba Minowa (箕輪ひろば) vs. Jo Arai (新井丈)
2 x 5 min rounds
Minowa in the ascendancy at the beginning but, on the break, Arai clocks his opponent on the chin, which had Minowa temporarily down and the crowd stunned. However, Minowa soon got up and attempted to tackle Arai, perhaps in desperation at first but in complete control after his head cleared. Vicious ground and pound had the referee interested but Minowa attempted to settle matters with an armbar that Arai just managed to wade through until the end of the round. R2, and the writing was already on the wall. Minowa executed a successful takedown from the outset, ground & pound & finished off Arai’s misery with a rear-naked choke.
★ Manabu Inoue (井上 学) vs Nobutaka Naito (内藤 頌貴)
3 x 5min rounds
With 15 of his 18 victories coming by decision, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what Inoue’s tactics would be but being aware & being able to avoid it are two different kettles of fish. Which made it all the more surprising in R1 was that Inoue was content to stand on the whole, thrusting the occasional low kick, seemingly setting himself up for a takedown attempt. It didn’t help that Naito was standing upright and not overcommitting on any attacking forays. Inoue did shoot for a takedown twice before the round was out but Naito kept him at bay, landing a right to the body & a left that cut Inoue’s right eyelid on the bell.
R2, and Inoue reverted back to the script. From the outset, he dived in for a tackle and when he couldn’t get it, he repeatedly tried to get his foe to the canvas. Eventually he succeeded and in the half-guard, he peppered away at he body & head of Naito, accumulating points more than anything else. If Naito attempted to stand, Inoue would smother him again.
R3, and no doubt Inoue would have liked to employ the same tactic but Naito sent a right jab that had Inoue flinching. Inoue recovered to indeed make a smothering attempt but this time, Naito was able to back up to the fence and throw a barrage of ferocious elbows to the top of Inoue’s head but Inoue continued to be content with dominant position, through to the end of the round.
Frustrating day at the office for Naito but business as usual for Inoue, except that Naito was able to score enough in the 1st round to scramble a draw. But I can’t help but thinking that if Inoue desired the W so much, why didn’t he apply his constricting strategy from the word go? (30-29/28-29/29-29)
★Takashi Nakayama (仲山貴志) vs. Derricott Kento Yamamoto (山本健斗デリカット) 3 x 5min rounds
This fight represented a contrast in styles and everything seemed in order when the grappler Nakayama enacted a nicely timed takedown but it quickly went downhill from there. Yamamoto was able to wrap one of his tree trunk arms around Nakayama’s neck & hold on for dear life. It didn’t seem deep enough & all the angles were wrong, but Nakayama was struggling, tapping out soon after to his own chagrin. Yamamoto records his 1st submission win and his 1st 3-match winning streak.
★ Taiki Tsuchiya (土屋大喜) vs. Go Minamide (南出 剛)
3 x 5 min rounds
With both fighters having a penchant for letting their fists fly, the crowd anticipated a lively fight but respect had the upper hand, a stalemate the end result. Minamide started out brightly enough, landing a series of sharp inside low kicks and a left hook and matched by Tsuchiya with a couple of rights and a punch on the break. R2 saw both fighters err on the side of caution, fainting & waiting to counter. Tsuchiya would dive in occasionally for a takedown but Minamide showed great poise and balance to stuff each & every attempt, landing two crisp left kicks towards the end of the round. R3 saw Tsuchiya realizing he needed to push the issue & the takedown attempts increased, the thinking being that if he could maintain dominant position on the ground, at least he could get that round. But Minamide wasn’t a willing accomplice & the round petered out. The fight could have gone either way but in the end, it was a split decision for Minamide. (30-28/28-29/28-29)
★Shingo Suzuki (鈴木槙吾) vs. Captain Africa (キャプテン☆アフリカ)
3 x 5 min rounds
Only the Captain Africa camp could have envisaged such an overwhelming victory for their fighter. Soon after coming to grips, Africa executed a timely hip throw and held Suzuki down in a good old-fashioned kesagatame (scarf hold) straight from the judo handbook. Suzuki wriggled & wormed but couldn’t escape as punches rained down on the top of his head. Suzuki’s arm was caught in an awkward position between Africa’s legs and it was already damaged before Africa raised it slightly, prompting an immediate tap from Suzuki.
★AB vs. Nobumitsu Taison (大尊伸光)
3 x 5 min rounds
AB had 3 inches on his opponent and you would think he could have utilized that to his advantage but he was listless throughout the fight. After losing his title shot last time, you would think his motivation would be high but this was a diabolical performance. He fainted and fainted, then fainted again. Taison, who was waiting to counter, couldn’t wait any longer as punches failed to come his way, landing a right hook and right low kick of his own. Ditto R2 & in R3, as AB continued to hold back, Taison landed a huge right hook that opened a cut on AB’s left eyelid、and perhaps it was this that sprung AB into action, forcing Taison to the ground but not doing anything with it before the final bell tolled. An overwhelming victory for Taison, with one judge calling the last round an 8-10 round (27-30/27-30/26-30).
★Yuki Kawana (川名 雄生) vs. Jin Tae Ho (ジン・テホ)
3 x 5 min rounds
Kawana had everything to lose and nothing to gain in this one, the Korean being relatively unknown outside his own country. Tae Ho is nicknamed the Diadem Spider as he is all arms and legs, standing a huge 6 inches over his opponent. Indeed, Kawana had initial trouble getting in range as the Korean kept him at bay with jabs and middle kicks but what Tae Ho gained in reach, he lacked in power and Kawana quickly realized that he could afford to wear one or two as he moved into closer range. Kawana attempted a takedown but Tae Ho manages to clumsily somewhat stay on his feet, albeit barely. On the break, Kawana is able to hit at will, landing a left hook, elbow & right hook in quick succession. He finishes the round by taking down his opponent & maintaining dominant position. R2, and Kawana continues to land punches & takes his opponent down again, maintaining half guard as he continues to make it uncomfortable for the Korean. Tae Ho appears lost at sea as he increasingly looks to his corner for advice while keeping one eye on Kawana. R3, and by this stage, the Korean’s resistance is faltering remarkably as Kawana is able to land a left kick to the midriff followed by a right hook. Kawana takes his foe to the ground and in the half guard, he pounds away at will but the bell beats any referee intervention. (30-27/30-27/29-28)
★Yutaka Saito 斎藤 裕) vs. Drex Zamboanga (ドレックス・ザンボアンガ)
3 x 5 min rounds
With Saito not having fought in a year & Zamboanga looking for his 5th straight win, the crowd was looking for a close fight but it turned out to be more lopsided than envisaged. Saito closed the space from the outset and when Zamboanga landed one of his trademark spinning heel kicks to the midriff, it looked like the Filipino was on his game but Saito continued to close & that turned out to be Zamboanga’s final hurrah as we got a glimpse of Saito’s winning formula. Saito soon effected a tackle & maintained dominant position through to the end of the round despite his opponent’s best efforts. R2, and the Filipino surprised with a takedown of his own but after regaining his feet, Saito was able to resume normal procedure, throwing his foe to the canvas again and the ground & pound grew into a crescendo as the end of the round neared. Zamboanga barely survived the round. R3, and Zamboanga was spent. Saito with dominant position again straight after the bell and Zamboanga attempting an arm triangle from below. With no more gas in the tank, Saito was able to easily defend that move and gradually increased the tempo in the ground & pound. With the crowd counting down the last 10secs, Saito let fly with a barrage of left hammer fists until the referee had mercy with 2secs left on the clock. Saito gains a rare KO victory.
★ Koshi Matsumoto (松本光史) vs Yuki Okano (岡野裕城)
World Lightweight Title Bout, 5 x 5min rounds
This fight was Okano’s career in a nutshell. When he kept with the plan of utilizing his 4 inch height advantage by continually throwing the left jab, Matsumoto was obviously having problems coming in & closing the distance. But as soon as he lost concentration and stopped jabbing away, Matsumoto was able to faint a left and throw a devastating right (incidentally, the same combination that had he used to fell Taison in Oct last year) that hit Okano flush on the chin, sending him sprawling. Okano tried valiantly to get up but Matsumoto followed with a flurry of punches that knocked Okano down repeatedly before the ref stepped in. Okano protested, but it was probably a good stoppage.
Akitoshi Tamura Retirement (田村彰敏の引退セレモニー)
It was also a sad day for Shooto with the great warrior, Akitoshi Tamura, calling it a day. Over his storied career, he amassed a record of 21-18-2 over a 16-year career, starting with his pro debut way back in 2001 at the age of 21. In 2007, he rose to he pinnacle of the sport, capturing both the Shooto Pacific Rim Featherweight Crown on Feb 17, 2007 with a unanimous decision over Tenkei Fujimiya and the Shooto World Featherweight title with a unanimous decision over Lion Takeshi. He also scored a famous submission victory over legendary Rumina Sato in 2008. In his final address, Tamura remarked “A year ago, I was in the hospital. After a match, I was paralyzed down the right side of my body, and I had a disorder of the eyes, ears and speech, but I thank my colleagues, my family and hospital staff that I could somehow miraculously survive. My MMA career spanned 16 years, having fought with seven organizations, and more than half of my matches, 25 in all, were spent with Shooto. I won a lot and lost a lot. I became a champion, and I remember each and every one of my matches. I am honored to have been given a retirement ceremony, even though the latter half of my career had been spent with other organizations. Shooto is an organization like a hometown that always welcomes you warmly. Please continue to support Shooto as it is handed down from one generation to the next. I’d like to return my gartitude to my dojo, martial arts, fans, my family who supported me, and my wife who has always been by my side through thick and thin.”
Tamura will always be remembered for his fighting qualities and will leave a gaping hole in the fighter stocks.
Congratulations on a stellar career!!
Well, there you have it. Be sure to check into UFC Fight Pass on May 13 from Culttz Kawasaki for the next exciting episode. The card promises to be a humdinger, with the likes of crowd favorite Uoi Fullswing, Yuta Nezu, Akuri Ronda, Ryo Okada & Yosuke Saruta among others.