Korakuen Hall once again hosted Shooto as their 30th anniversary volume 8 card saw some of Japans most skilled and experienced fighters take center stage.
Pioneer of MMA in Japan, Kaoru “Shoten” Uno returned for a main event battle against Markus Held, a talented grappler from German Top Team. For the 44 year old Uno, this marked his 59th pro mma fight in a career spanning 23 years. Held came into the fight lacking the pro experience but with a wealth of experience collecting medals under Shooto’s notoriously tough Amateur Tournaments and Submission Grappling events.
Both grappling specialists wasted little time with striking and initiated the clinch. Uno put his superior footwork to work, disrupting Held’s balance and driving him to the ground. On top Uno started his transitional based submission game as he glided over Held, looking to force a reaction and capitalize. Held showed his grappling acumen though, turning the tables on Uno he adeptly took back mount. Maintaining position for the majority of the round Held came very close with choke attempts and countered Unos escapes beautifully.
The opening of the 2nd round mirrored the first as “Shoten” again won the clinch battle and dragged Held to the mat. Uno again floated over Held waiting for the right moment to strike, this time wary of the counter. Before long the Japanese pioneer executed one of his specialties, electing for speed and timing he forfeited hooks and clinched a tight rear naked choke mid transition. The tap came at 1:52 of round 2.
Fight of the night honors went to Yuta Nezu and Kazuma Kuramoto. Well rounded with solid fundamentals Nezu is best known for his striking, in particular his kicking game. In contrast the undefeated Kuramoto starts fast with some heavy firepower, spectacular wrestling and ferocious ground and pound. As the 2 met in the cage Nezu made his intentions clear with heavy leg kicks that buckled Kuramoto’s legs. Kuramoto doubled up on spinning back fists but it was in the clinch he really came to life. Chaining together 4 throws including spectacular suplexes the wrestling standout rode back position and battered Nezu with strikes for a dominant round.
Kuramoto didn’t let up in the 2nd and kept his foot on the pedal. Outstanding back control led to more high altitude supplex throws for Kuramoto to the delight of the audience. Nezu showed tremendous heart to weather the storm but was visibly fading. After escaping back to his feet Nezu faced some vicious punches against the fence from Kuramoto as time expired.
The very second the 3rd round started Nezu’s corner threw in the “red baton” to mercifully end the match. Nezu was disappointed but Kuramoto showed no signs of slowing down and the accumulated damage made a comeback unlikely. The official time was 1 second into the 3rd round by TKO, corner stoppage.
Elusive sniper Kiyotaku Shimizu faced prolific finisher, Hawaiian Shojin Miki in a battle mostly contested on the feet. The combatants mirrored each others leg kicks to get going before opening up with their hands. Shimizu pulled ahead, timing his lead left hook over Miki’s strikes. The Hawaiian mixed things up with a big throw but Shimizu skillfully reversed to take top before returning to the feet. 2 blistering left hooks stunned Miki who backpedaled to the cage. There he was greeted by a onslaught of strikes prompting the referee to wave the fight off at 4:19 of the first. Miki was not happy with the stoppage but he was taking damage and not answering or engaging.
In the 2nd atomweight tournament bout Tanja Angerer got off to a good start, hurting Mina Kurobe with a stiff and accurate jab. Once Kurobe closed the distance however she cinched a single leg and angled to put Angerer down. From there Kurobe would defend the arm bar and punish with strikes or pass to side. Kurobe turned up the intensity as time ticked down, raining down elbows and punches from the side.
Sensing she needed something big, Angerer rocked Kurobe seconds into the 2nd round with a pinpoint straight. Kurobe stayed calm and composed and got in on the legs for a much needed double leg takedown against the fence. From there she took every opportunity to strike. Angerer made space by kicking Kurobe off but it gave chance for Kurobe to charge in and pass to side. She locked a crucifix position and then secured mount, pummeling Angerer for the stoppage as 4:52 of the round.
Koreas Ye Ji Lee tore into Takumi Umehara from the opening bell of their atomweight tournament semifinal. The power difference was apparent as Ye threw kicks high and low and fired solid straights to keep Umehara on the defensive. Ye took the fight to the mat where she kept position and did damage. The 2nd round was more of the same, Umehara tried to get into the fight but physically couldn’t match Ye, on the ground Ye broke her down with volume until ref had seen enough at 3:21 of round 2.
The highly anticipated match up between powerful Judoka Shutaro “Captain Africa” Debana and dynamic grappler Hiroki “AB” Aoki got off to an explosive start. As both fighters swung for the fences “Captain Africa” got the better of the exchanges, winging heavy hooks and bloodying “AB”. As round came to a close Debana was showing signs of fading and Aoki saw his opportunity to turn up the pressure. Steady accurate jabs hurt the Judoka who attempted a throw to escape trouble. Aoki anticipated the attack and countered, seizing dominant position he fired down a barrage of strikes as round concluded.
In Round 2, a revitalised “Captain Africa” started strong, during a series of 1-2 combinations 2 crushing left hands landed and the damage to Aoki was clear to see. The doctor was called and the match waved off at 1:10 of the round.
In the opening stanza of their bout, Yu Tanaka and Yuki Okano alternated trip takedown attempts and traded powerful punches and kicks. Okano found his jab in the 2nd and held center, Tanaka was outworking him in the grappling though and finished the final minute fishing for a rear naked choke. The final round was back and forth action as both combatants traded blow for blow. Visibly winded but still carrying ferocious power Okano finished the fight with a bang, putting his opponent briefly down. Wary of Okano’s size and firepower Tanaka used his speed and grappling to steal the fight on judges scorecards, 28-27×3.
Kota Onojima successfully took Motonobu Tezuka to the ground as their match commenced only to be reversed. Tezuka switched between mount side and back and hunted a rear naked choke as opening stanza finished. In the 2nd both fighters threw heavy leather, this time Onojima pulled ahead with control time against cage and a solid left kick right straight combination finding its mark. More hooks and kicks from Onojima in the 3rd as Tezuka found his range with straights. Tezuka initiated the grappling and took 1/2 guard late in the 3rd to finish strong. A hard fought victory for Tezuka as he claimed 29-28 scores from all 3 judges.
Megumi Sugimoto was really one step ahead of the pack for the whole Infinity League round robin tournament and really let fly with her final bout against Satome Hirose. Leaping across the cage to close distance Sugimoto used her superior wrestling to take the fight to the canvas. From there it was methodical and calculated as she worked to mount then back mount before finishing with a rear naked choke at 2:20 of the 1st
Yoki Harada controlled the clinch against the fence against Kyu Kitano, using the position to secure body lock takedowns. Kitano scored a reversal and arm lock attempt and had her success at a distance in the striking, landing left kicks and straights. The bout was scored a draw, 19-19×2 with 1 score of 20-18 to Kitano
Derricott Kento Yamamoto scored the takedown early against Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu and got to work with heavy ground and pound. Sasuke countered with a deep armbar that Yamamoto did well to escape. The 2nd round belonged to Sasuke who took back and threatened with rear naked chokes until the time expired. 1 judge saw the fight 19-19 while remaining 2 were swayed by Sasuke’s effort to finish in 1st giving him 20-18 scores and the victory
Yasuhiro Fujino put his physical wrestling on display, bulldozing Kei Tamura to the cage, slamming him to the ground and firing down strikes. Tamura looked for rolling kimura counters but was stifled by heavy pressure and top control. As the final bell rang there was no doubt as to the victor as Fujino picked up the win with 20-18 scores from all judges