Shooto returned to Korakuen Hall for their 30th Anniversary 7th round event, sponsored by One Championship. While featuring a modest number of fights the event had no shortage of top talent. A title fight between 2 athletic powerhouses, a champion vs a legend in the co-main event, a gathering of fan favorites and top rankers, plus the semi-finals of the womens Infinity league tournament.
As the main event bantamweight title fight kicked off, Tatsuya Ando charged forward with 1-2s, blasting wild hooks and uppercuts. Champion Ryo Okada kept his striking more refined, implementing rear leg kicks and straights down the pipe. Ando scored brief grappling control against the cage before Okada evened things up with a back take from a defended takedown. Ando landed a crazy spinning back fist to hook combination but it was the champion that finished strong, a body kick followed by straight hand that hurt the challenger.
Round 2 saw both fighters pawing lead hands. Okada took initiative with a left hand and monstrous right head kick, partially blocked. Ando clinched the back and vigorously pursued a rear naked choke. Slipping out Okada blasted Ando with double straights before securing his own takedown. After a time stop for a blow to the back of Andos head they restarted on the feet. Ando sprinted forward with an eye-catching flurry to end the round.
In a grappling heavy 3rd round both fighters showed signs of fatigue. The fresher Okada scored a takedown and secured back for control time, Ando spun out but was taken down again and again. Rendered defensive Ando was finding fewer opportunities to engage. With 2 minutes left Okada finally ground Ando down and secured back mount with hooks in. From there he threatened with punches and rear naked chokes until time expired.
Judges were torn at the end of a close fight. Ando picked his shots and carried the big power while Okada was more accurate and busier. One Judge saw it 29-27 for Okada where other went 29-27 for Ando, the final score was 28-28 for a draw seeing Okada retain his bantamweight title by narrowest of margins.
Hiroyuki Takaya stalked featherweight champion Yutaka Saito from the opening bell, pressing forward and searching for opportunity to land something big. It would be Saito to land first though, a fast, pinpoint 1-2 through the guard wobbled Tayaya. Saito didn’t let up, blitzing his foe with a barrage of strikes that culminated with Takaya slumped against the cage fence at just 1:17 of the opening stanza. Impressive showing by champion Saito in disposing of a dangerous adversary.
Southpaw Mamoru Uoi loaded up on his “fullswing” left and had Takumi Tamaru scrambling for single legs. Not shy to engage, Tamaru landed right body kicks, then launched a head kick followed by right hand that got “Fullswing’s” attention. Uoi raised the intensity blasting short strikes and searching for a takedown while Tamaru countered with a guillotine. Tamaru hoisted Uoi into the air and slammed him down passing to side, then mount as the round closed.
After an inactivity warning to both fighters for timidity Tamaru returned to working kicks and mixing up his attacks. In contrast, Uoi hunted for that one big fight ending strike. A “Fullswing” left stung Tamaru who answered with kicks and knees. Both fighters were cautious through the round, Tamaru concerned about the huge power shots and Uoi worried he would find himself in the clinch or on the ground.
Final round saw more right side kicks, knees and flying knees for Tamaru. Tamaru secured double underhooks and arched Uoi down, skillfully passing to side control. Uoi escaped but was tripped to the canvas again where they remained until the round expired. Tamaru dug deep and didn’t back down taking home a split dec win, 30-28, 29-28, 29-30.
Tsubasa Saito made his intentions very clear from start, winging mean hooks and uppercuts. Nobuki Fujii was able to evade and close distance but struggled to get his adversary down. Saito’s chance came, a big jumping knee followed by a vicious left hook put Fujii down to the canvas. Unable to capitalize and put Fujii away Tsubasa instead found himself sucked into grappling and ended up defending rear naked chokes and strikes from mount.
2nd round got underway with Saito planting Fujii down with a clubbing right. Again Fujii weathered the storm and rallied to pile on the pressure, constant peppering shots mixed with take downs drained Saito. Once Fujii achieved the takedown he transitioned between back and mount where he rained down strikes.
The final round saw Fujii exploit his grappling advantage further. Moving effortlessly between mount and back and repeating to dominate the round. Saito did well to survive as Fujii poured on the strikes from dominant positions. A locked head and arm choke attempt as bell sounded capped off a gutsy performance for Fujii, who took the win on all scorecards, 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28
Michael “baby Godzilla” Nakagawa worked strikes from the outside well in his match against Junji “Sarumaru” Ito, throwing double jabs and thudding kicks. On the inside “Sarumaru” had success with lead hooks and uppercuts but had difficulty getting there. Both fighters displayed their wrestling but it was Sarumaru that finished the round strong. Dragging Michael down he switched between back mount and mount to punish with ground and pound as the round came to a close.
In the 2nd Sarumaru managed to find his range and counters, landing 1-2s in close. Nakagawa was still effective on the outside, stalking his opponent and tagging him with jabs and kicks. The fight remained very technical as the combatants exchanged takedowns and reversals and traded blow for blow on the feet.
The last round was largely contested in the feet as both fighters rocked each other’s heads back, Sarumaru with lead hooks and Michael with straight rights. Both fighters fought tooth and nail going back and forth striking until the final bell. The evenly matched fight had judges split, seeing it 29-28 Nakagawa, 29-28 Ito and 29-29 for a draw.
Ryosuke Honda wasted no time in sliding to secure the leg of Ryohei Kurosawa and convert it to a takedown. It set the tone for the match as Honda aggressively wrestled and hunted takedowns. When Kurasawa created some space he was met with a burst of punches and more double and single leg takedowns.
In the middle stanza Honda’s explosiveness had dropped just enough for Kurosawa to sprawl and counter with strikes. On the feet things were going his way until a straight left from Honda sat him down on the canvas. Kurosawa rallied, stuffed a takedown, unleashed brutal ground and pound and finished on top.
Both fighters fatigued after a frenetic pace, Honda repeatedly shot the legs to wrestle top position in the 3rd. He transitioned to the back and fished for a choke. Kurasawa would endure and escape but couldn’t land that finishing blow he needed. Honda’s relentless perseverance and grit earned him a hotly contested split decision win, 30-28, 28-29, 29-28
After a damaging blow from Kyu Kitano, Megumi Sugimoto upped the intensity. Punching her way into a clinch Sugimoto secured a body lock takedown. Taking side and working a knee in to secure crucifix Sugimoto delivered some visious hammer fists and elbows until referee had seen enough at 2:06 of the 2nd. Sugimoto and Hirada progressed to the finals of the womens Infinity league under 50kg tournament.
After a tentative start Yuki Hirada and Satomi Hirose exchanged low kicks and conters on the feet. As fight progressed Hirada took over with dominant control against the cage. Working knees, kicks and takedowns Hirada scored a unanimous decision victory, 20-18 from all 3 judges.
The opening bout between Yoshiteru Kubomura and Takeoka Kinoshita saw a rematch with a decisive end free from controversy. Kubomura blasted Kinoshita with a right straight for the KO finish at 0:58 of the opening round.