The DEEP 92 Impact main event title match came down to the striker vs wrestler style clash many expected. Champion Koji Takeda showcased his world class wrestling through the first 5 minutes. Giving Juri Ohara no space to breathe he picked him up and angled him down to the canvas, Ohara stood but the champions positional placement was on point as he flipped Ohara back to the ground. Ohara would not be denied, positing on his arm he returned to standing again. Takeda kept pressure on, leaning on Ohara then scoring another double leg as Ohara’s weight came up. Takeda could not secure the grips needed to keep Ohara down, bouncing up again Ohara fired kicks and straights, looking for that big fight ending blow.
Ohara started strong for the 2nd and the tide seemed to be turning. Greeting Takeda with a steady supply of kicks and 1-2 combinations. A kind of rotating semi suplex by Takeda took the fight back to his realm but, keeping the trend going, Ohara stood again. An accidental low blow against the cage spelled disaster, Ohara could not continue and the fight met an anticlimactic conclusion. Judges rendered a decision based on fight up to the low blow and saw it 20-18 for Takeda and 19-19 x2, with “must” for Takeda. The champion retained his belt and I sense these two will clash again in the future.
A competitive co-main event got underway as slick ex-champion Ashida took on the physical ex-rugby player Nagakura. In the first Ashida’s speed and striking prowess showed as he slipped Nagakura`s strikes and answered with combinations. Mixing up inside leg kicks, lead head kicks and left straights he took control of the opening round.
With his striking falling short Nagakura fell back on his rugby background, tackling Ashida to the ground. Staying active with hammerfists in close and dropping heavy shots from distance Nagakura stayed on top for majority of round. A late reversal from Ashida saw him unleash his own very effective attacks.
The 3rd round saw both fighters try to take fight to where they had advantage, Ashida with jump kicks and combinations and Nagakura with takedowns. Nagakura won the positional battle, however, Ashida went for the Kimura finish and did more damage. Untimately as final bell rung judges sided with Ashida who was more effective and aggressive with his attacks.
In the fight of the night, Michihiro “Michi” Omigawa versus Akihiko Mori lived up to expectations. Omigawa’s elite level judo was on display early, from an overhook he expertly timed a Kosoto Gari foot sweep to put Mori on his back. From there it was methodical and clinical for “Michi”, moving between side, back and mount he threatened with submissions and drilled Mori with right hands. Active in guard Mori could not get his submission game going but mustered a reversal with 30 seconds left. Seizing the leg Mori fell back for the submission could not secure anything.
The tone changed as round 2 commenced with the Judoka hunting Mori on the feet and calling him on for brawl. Both exchanged furious lefts and rights as momentum swung back and forth. A big right from Mori was answered with a 1-2 combination from Omigawa in a wild trade. Changing level “Michi” wrenched his opponents legs out from under him and then triangled the legs to secure position. Mori defended well until the ref eventually restood the fighters. From there they got back to swinging for the knock out, Mori with a good 1-2 fired Michi up who came back strong with his own blows before scoring another takedown.
Mori looked worse for wear as he walked out for the final round and despite a solid 1-2 he was taking heavy punishment. Stinging jabs from “Michi” could not miss, again and again he snapped Moris head back until the ref had seen enough. Mori was still on his feet and game but the accumulation of damage was visible. Omigawa’s chin, firepower and relentless barrage of strikes took their toll and “Michi” walked away with the TKO win, 1:42 of the last round.
Ryo Sakai had some success with kicks and huge overhand hooks but fell short against Tatsuya Mizuno for most of the 1st round. Controlling the real estate Mizuno pumped a solid jab and 1-2 combinations and straights. A big knee also found its way to Sakai’s body. With 1 minute left Mizuno got his arms clasped around Sakai, pulled him in with a single leg and rotated him to the ground. From there he progressed to mount before unleashing some substantial ground and pound.
Knowing his grappling advantage and the threat Sakai posed on the feet Mizuno went right back to the clinch, driving Sakai back he hooked a leg for another Takedown. Slowly flattening Sakai out Mizuno progressed inch by inch to mount where he battered Sakai with strikes. Sakai kicked off the cage for a surprise escape but got over enthusiastic, landing a hard knee to the downed Mizuno. Doctors deemed Mizuno unfit to continue and the fight was called. Not the finish he wanted but Miznuno walked away with a DQ victory over a dangerous Ryo Sakai.
Yoshitomo “Nabe” Watanabe has never taken easy fights and 170lb Champion Ryuichiro Sumimura is a formidable match up for anyone. As the match got underway both fighters exchanged cautiously. Nabe was falling short with a lot of his power punches but having success with low kicks, buckling the legs and hurting the Champion. Sumimura evaded the punches and countered beautifully with 1-2 combinations. Nabe got through with a hard right but Sumimura was the one finding his range and picking the better shots. Nabe found his head snapped back and chin tested as round progressed but did not back down.
Increasing the intensity for the 2nd Nabe came out throwing with heat on looping punches and landing thudding kicks off the jab. Sumimura showed the composure of a champion and, unfazed, started to overwhelm with his own strikes. Chin tested and under threat “Nabe” dived at the legs for a takedown. Anticipating the shot Sumimura utilized textbook defense before forcing “Nabe” to his back. Both fighters jostled for position, offense and defense, with Sumimura coming out on top. Firmly in the drivers seat Sumimura attacked with a tight rear naked choke under the chin. Somehow Nabe held on and escapes but is caught in same choke again. Nabe dug deep and showed his fighting spirit, struggling out of the hold, he returned to his feet with 10 seconds left on the clock.
A thudding kick from “Nabe” at the start of the final round was seized and converted to
a takedown by Sumimura. From there he softened Watanabe up with ground and pound. A back take followed and once again Sumimura locked up a rear naked choke as “Nabe” tried to stand. This time there would be no respite or escape and “Nabe” finally taps at 2:30 of the 3rd. Sumimura drew upon experience and skill and grew stronger as fight progressed. In defeat “Nabe” proved once again he is not to be taken lightly and a worthy opponent for anyone in the division.
Workhorse and durable veteran Shoji “Shoji” Murayama faced technical wrestler Makoto Kamaya in a entertaining war of attrition. Kamaya wasted no time in stamping his authority on the 1st round with tight clinches and takedowns. Never one to stay idle Shoji worked every second but any time he stood Kamaya`s perfect footwork and positioning resulted in a return to canvas.
A revitalised Shoji came out firing on all cylinders as the 2nd round got underway. Kamaya tried to hold his ground but the pressure was breaking him down. Shoji slipped inside range and threw solid, powerful basics. His jab landed time and time again and was followed by heavy kicks to Kamaya. The wrestler managed to score takedowns but the tide seemed to be turning.
Sensing the final round was pivotal, Shoji came out going straight for the jab while Makoto went directly for the clinch. Perseverance paid off for Kamaya and Shoji was hustled to the canvas. The success was short lived however as Shoji once again willed his way back to his feet. With Kamaya pinned against the cage Shoji unleashed a relentless barrage of well placed knees that sent Kamaya down. Anticipating the finish Shoji never let up, flattening his adversary out he brought the match to a close with strikes from the back mount at 1:47 of the final round
Koichi Ishizuka vs Chiharu Yoneyama was a clash of contrasting striking styles. Ishizuka took center and used technical boxing fundamentals. With upper cuts, hooks, stinging jabs and a great cross he looked to come over top of his opponent and land big. Yoneyama was content to play the outside, move out of range and then dive in with big elbows or knees. When they did clinch up Ishizuka would work his hards over the top and Yoneyama sought knees from Thai plum. After coming close a few times Yoneyama landed big, a monstrous knee as Ishizuka clinched had him stumbling and another on the way down had the referee jump in for the stoppage. It was unclear if Ishizuka was working for a leg as he dropped but he was undoubtedly hurt bad, the TKO stoppage materialized, round 1, 4:24.
The battle between proficient grapplers, Shunichi Shimizu and Kosuke “Coro” Terashima got underway with some technical but tentative striking exchanges. Both were elusive in the opening round, looking to out feint the feints the fighters inched closer as fight progressed.
In the 2nd Shimizu shot a single from outside and maneuvered to a leglock until sustained striking pressure forced him to settle for guard. Coro shut down kneebars, triangles and reversals and all the while punishing Shimizu with strikes. A solid showing from Coro was enough to earn him the unanimous victory, 20-18 x2 and 19-19 (“must” decision for Coro).
From his usual “Commando” entrance Kosuke “Rambo” Suzuki was all business in cage. He stalked the bigger Chikara, pressuring a telegraphed shot that “Rambo” sprawled. As Chikara’s hips and head came up Rambo snatched up the guillotine for a quick finish just 48 seconds into the match
Southpaw Ryota “Big Baby” Oki countered Ryuji Takashio’s high kicks with powerful inside leg kicks. A failed hip throw from Takashio let “Big Baby” steal top position where he chipped away with ground and pound from back mount until ref called it off at 4:46 of the opening round.