The DEEP flyweight title was on the line in the main event. 2 accomplished grappling specialists took center stage as agile takedown and positional expert Makoto Takahashi faced off against the versatile and dynamic submission prowess of Yuya “Monkey” Shibata.
The first round got underway rather tentatively as fighters looked to test the water and scope each other out on the feet and in the clinch. An attempted spinning back fist from Takahashi goes too deep and Shibata seized the opportunity to wrench him down. The advantage was short lived though as Takahashi scored a reversal and got to work from the top.
“Monkey” clung to anything he could get hold of, using his flexibility to fish for a gogoplata then omoplata and finally a heel hook. Takahashi defended perfectly but the final leg attack opened the door for Shibata to transition to take back. Before he could lock in the hooks and consolidate position though Takahashi was on the move, rolling acrobatically to edge out top position. From there Takahashi rained down hammerfists until the bell rung and first round came to a conclusion.
In the 2nd round Shibata shot out of the gate, grabbed a single leg and rotated his opponent to the ground, Takahashi, however, had locked in a guillotine which he used for a reversal to once again emerge on top. Determined not to let the moment pass Monkey climbed around to take the back, only to be rolled off and resigned to bottom position. Now settled on top Takahashi passed to 1/2 guard and threatened with a head and arm choke multiple times. Shibata was reduced to defense for most of the round as Takahashi looked to pass, tried to catch the choke submission or fired down hard blows.
By the 3rd it was a case of “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” as Takahashi shot a double leg straight away from a Shibata kick. Takahashi had the winning formula for the match and knew what was needed. low hips and good control when on top shut Shibata down and when he did get some space Takahashi was quick to make him pay with calculated and accurate strikes. With limbs and body working in unison Takahashi continued to stay 1 step ahead of the dangerous submission wizard until the final bell. Shibata held on and defended well but was trapped looking for that one fight ending sequence that would never come to be. The end was a unanimous and dominant win for Takahashi 30-27 x5 to take the 125lb belt.
Tatsuya Mizuno took on Mitsuyoshi Nakai in a non title bout and dominated from the get go as predicted. Although sporting a 1-3 record Nakai was a bit of an unknown quantity in many ways going into the fight. He lost to a top tier fighters from 170lbs all the way up to a 282lb super heavyweight, who he inexplicably fought twice. Nakai had a “punchers chance” and was a game competitor however this day belonged to the DEEP MW champion Mizuno.
As the battle commenced Nakai came out aiming to trade and land something heavy but Mizuno was having none of it. Securing the legs he hit an angle and scored a sharp takedown, progressed to 1/2 guard and then moved to side. From there he delivered heavy knees to the shoulders and body before launching a vicious soccer kick to the head then following up with punches for good measure. Nakai showed tremendous resilience and somehow stayed in the fight, Mizuno slowly but surely broke him down though. After effortlessly transitioning one more time between 1/2 guard, side and mount Mizuno locked a tight head and arm choke, with 10 seconds left it looked like Nakai might make it out of the round, at 2 seconds left he had finally reached his limit and Mizuno forced the tap at 5:58 of round 1.
Michihiro Omigawa was content to take a risk and test his chin and striking skills by wildly going toe to toe with Yuki “Aurora” Ohara in the opening exchange. Driving Aurora back Omigawa found the opening to dive at the legs, clinch his hands and show his high level Judo. After being dragged to the canvas Aurora looked to spring back to his feet as Omigawa fought to take back control. Both were locked mid-transition but it was Omigawa who would emerge successful. The Judoka controlled one arm, threw stinging blows with the other and fought for a choke from a dominant semi-back position.
Ohara prioritised defense, biding his time until he sensed an chance to escape. His patience and persistence finally paid off as he was able to return to his feet and plant Omigawa on the canvas. With his arms cinched around Ohara
s right leg and using his feet to break posture Omigawa managed to sweep and return to his feet. He took some damage though and Oharas confidence had grown. A toe to toe firefight ensued until the round ended and both fighters went back to their corners exhausted.
To the delight of all in attendance Round 2 would see the fighters pick up where they left off. A left hook from Aurora found its mark and Omigawa briefly touched the canvas. Sensing an upset Ohara pounced, Omigawa instinctively shot a double leg takedown and Ohara locked up a guillotine. Omigawa slid out to the side to avoid falling in guard, from there he countered with a Von Flue/ shoulder choke for the tap at 2:03 of the second.
Yuta Watanabe and Yoichiro Sato went to war in a contest of attrition where both took damage and had their hearts tested. The first round saw Sato steal an early lead lighting Yuta up with jabs and 1-2s that just couldn’t seem miss. Stepping into range and mixing up hooks, straights and hard kicks Sato was catching Yuta at the end of combinations. Yuta, who generally fell short with his attempts began to find his mark with a late flurry to end the round.
Sato came out firing his heavy artillery as round 2 commenced. A 1-2 then kick combination is absorbed by Yuta who decides to switch gears and whip Sato
s legs out from under him, securing a takedown and 1/2 guard. Back on the feet both traded shot for shot with Yuta starting to move head better and find his mark with his hands. A monstrous punch thudded off the top of Yutas head and he brought the fight to the canvas again with another double leg. From 1/2 guard Yuta searched for a head and arm choke but was careful not to give any breathing space to Sato.
As Round 3 got underway the momentum was now firmly in favor of Yuta. After biting down on their mothpieces and slugging it out Yuta decided to take the fight to where he had the advantage with another well timed takedown. Sato struggled to find an answer, with feet against cage he tried to buck Yuta off but it was to no avail. With heavy top pressure Yuta moved between 1/2 guard and side and chipped away with strikes, Sato looked drained. With only 1 minute left Sato clawed his way to his feet and let his hands go, left and right, body and head. Yuta stood ground and fired back and both left it all in the cage swinging until the final bell.
As the grueling match came to a close all 3 judges leant towards Yuta with 29-28 scores for a hard fought victory.
Thunderous kicks from Kyosuke Yokoyama set the tone for his bout against Shigeki Osawa . Pressing forward Yokoyama launched heavy kicks to the body, Osawa reacted well and fell back on his wrestling to get the fight to the ground. Yokoyama kept him on the defense though with guillotine and kimura attempts.
Second round was a similar story, after taking Yokoyama down from a vicious kick Osawa was not able to get the offence going. After making it back to his feet Yokoyama shot in, took the back and threatened with a choke until the round concluded. All 3 judges supported Yokoyama with scores of 20-18
Madoka “Madeline” Ishibashi came guns blazing at Shinashi who showcased the kind of Sambo skills she is known for rotating her over her hip with a beautiful throw. Madeline rolled with the throw and ended up on top in guard. From there she faced arm lock after arm lock as Shinashi seamlessly flowed between submission attempts. Madeline was over matched in terms of skill and experience but displayed a lot of heart and grit to endure and escape some painful submissions. Ultimately though the writing was on the wall for her as she succumbed to a Shinashi cross arm lock at 3:05 of round 1.
Rikuto “Dark” Shirakawa and Koichi Ishizuka went back and forth in an entertaining blow for blow striking battle. Ishizuka took the back late in the 2nd but couldn’t come close to the submission. The shots from “Dark” contained that little bit more power and it was enough for 2 of the judges to side with him 20-18, with the 3rd judge giving it 19-19 with a “must” for Ishizuka.
Yoshitomo “Nabe” Watanabe vs Takahiro Kawanaka was a very evenly matched affair that came down to just a few key moments. Watanabe attacked with bodylock trip take downs and a solid top game, reaching mount late in the 1st and attacking the arm as time expired. In the 2nd Kawanaka turned the tide scoring a big double leg takedown, a back take and choke attempts. Watanabe took the 1st round and had his moments in the 2nd which appeared enough to earn 3 “must” decisions from all judges who scored the bout 19-19
Shooto Watanabe put his grappling pedigree on display. Getting right to the clinch he swiftly took Hiroyuki Kobayashi’s back. Showing great poise and balance in maintaining position he sealed the deal with a rear naked choke at 1:12 of the 1st.
Yuki Ito survived take downs and back chokes to punish Haruki Nakayama with sprawl and brawl tactics. As the fight progressed Ito`s heavier shots and constant pressure helped him pull away and secure a unanimous 19-18 decision victory on all score cards.
In another close match Naoto Ayuta implemented solid basics with powerful jabs, low kicks and knees to edge out Kosuke “Rambo” Suzuki’s bulrush sprints, strong clinch and takedown game. All judges scored the fight 19-19 with 2 giving the “Must” to Ayuta for a razor thin victory.
For first match of the evening Naoto Miyazaki leaned on his grappling expertise to scrape past a resilient Juro Ohara. Miyazaki pushed for the body lock take down and back take to threaten with rear naked chokes, Ohara resisted and opened up with strikes whenever the opportunity presented itself. 2 judges scored the for Miyazaki (20-18, 19-19 “must”) with the dissenting judge scoring it 20-18 for Ohara