Bellator 237/ Rizin 29th December Review

The crowd were silent with awe and anticipation as the main event between Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson got underway. Each displaying their signature style Fedor bounced back and forth firing fast hands while Rampage looked to cover and counter. Both exchanged 1-2s and low kicks but the hand speed and relentless attack of Fedor prevented Rampage really getting going. He was largely rendered defensive until a Fedor right hand finally got through the guard and Rampage slumped down at 2:44 of round 1. With such a stellar performance we will hopefully see Fedor fight again despite talk of retirement.


SIdney Outlaw stepped in for an injured Benson Henderson to take the co-main event spot against Michael Chandler. Knowing he needed the takedown Outlaw was tentative in striking exchanges, working to secure a leg or find an opening to clinch. Chandler kept to his distance and avoided getting drawn into a clinch game. A shovel uppercut for Outlaw snapped Chandlers head back and got his attention. Chandler answered with a straight right that caught Outlaw behind the ear and floored him, another hammerfist to same spot and the referee waved the fight off at 2:59 of the 1st round


There is no hidden agenda when it comes to the fighting of Michael “Venom” Page, he is always searching for a flashy KO finish on the feet. Shinsho “Animal” Anzai knew this coming in but still could not get anything going against the bigger rangy karate stylist. Anzai chased, pressured, bull rushed, but each time “MVP” was able to slip away and make Anzai pay. Page landed uppercuts, jabs, straights and flying knees in increasing volume as the first round progressed. A 1-2 knockdown late in the round crumpled Anzai who did well to get back up. Page showboated a double arial kick which Anzai evaded as the round closed.

It was more of the same as the 2nd round got underway. Page launched another flying knee and moments later sent Anzai to the canvas with a walk off right hand 23 seconds into the round. “Animal” showed tremendous heart and fighting spirit but could muster little to trouble Page. MVP introduced himself to the Japanese audience in an emphatic and entertaining fashion.


The first round between Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin and Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura saw both fighters fight to establish range and exploit openings on the feet. Nakamura largely held ground and looked to catch Larkin mid attack with stiff jabs and straights. “The Monsoon” lived up to his name with some thunderous body kicks and powerful hooks and uppercuts.

With the 2nd round underway both fighters adapted to the pace and rhythm and had their moments. “K-Taro” stalked and kept chipping away with a stiff jab and straight hands while Larkin continued with the body kicks and sniper punches. The momentum changed significantly at the end of the round as Larkin nailed Nakamura with a jumping knee and tried to capitalize with elbows and right hands.

“K-Taro” came into the 3rd understanding he was behind. Putting his foot on the pedal he took the fight to Larkin. The tactic played further into Larkins hands who expertly slid out of range and came back with hard counters. As thudding body kicks and heavy punches took their toll Nakamura desperately shot for a leg. The Japanese fighter found himself unable to execute and stuck under Larkin who rained down elbows and hammerfists. With referee close to stopping “K-Taro” dug deep and staggered back to his feet with blood streaming from his eye. “The Monsoon” loaded up with more jump knees, elbows and straights but could not put his durable foe away. In the end Nakamura weathered the storm but lost the fight, with judges scoring it 30-27 and 30-26 x2. Larkin further established himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport with a decisive performance.


Judo powerhouse Kana Watanabe faced off the BJJ submission specialist Ilara “Arya Stark” Joanne in a bout heavily contested on the canvas. Joanne tagged Watanabe on the feet and scored a flush head kick before the Judoka scored a beautiful Uchi Mata throw. Watanabe was able to fend off triangle and kneebar attempts and was selective with hard ground and pound.

The 2nd round saw a slick reversal by Ilara from a Watanabe throw to take top position. Watanabe kept her head high against fence and good wrist grip but could not escape Ilara’s figure of 4 leg control. With just 30 seconds left Watanabe breaks the deadlock and sweeps, pouring on some effective ground and pound.

Watanabe wasted little time getting the fight to the canvas in the 3rd. Launching Selective straight rights through the guard the Judo specialist methodically progressed to 1/2 guard before taking back mount. With 40 seconds left Watanabe punches away on a flattened out Ilara until the ref jumped in at 4:39 of the final stanza.

Kicking off the main card Daren Cruickshank met Goiti Yamauchi in a battle of striker vs grappler. A spinning back fist from Cruickshank gave Yamauchi the opportunity he needed to take the back. With a seatbelt grip secured Yamauchi pushed a foot against the fence to make room to get another hook in, from there it was a matter of time before he secured his trademark rear naked choke. Yamauchi scored the submission at 3:11 of the first round.


The post-lims got underway as rising Japanese heavyweight Shoma Shibisai blitzed Sergey Shemetov from top position before stealing a leg for an ankle hold and tap at 49 seconds of the round.

Ryoichiro Sumimura searched for his 1st Rizin victory but succumbed to Jon Tuck right hands 3:36 into their bout. Tuck stepped deep into range and rocked Sumimura behind the ear with a right hand before repeating the technique to put the Deep champion down.

Looking considerably smaller than her opponent Ai Shimizu leant on her strong wrestling credentials, scoring takedowns every round to edge out Andy Nguyen 2 judges to 1.

19 year old Makoto “Shinryu” Takahashi put implemented a mature and calculated grappling game to out scramble Yusaku Nakamura and take a clear decision win 3-0.

Takahiro Ashida had his work cut out for him against K-1 standout Ren Hiramoto. Hiramoto came through the Koshien ranks to emerge as one of K-1s stars, stopping Kaew Weerasakreck in his last outing in a huge upset. Ashida fought bravely but was outgunned, Hiramoto walked through Ashida’s offense and landed a brutal right knee opening a cut. A 1-2 sat Ashida to the canvas and Hiramoto just could not miss after that, 2 more knockdowns and the fight was over at 2:45 of round 1.

Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks picked up and slammed Haruo Ochi to the mat, taking his back as Ochi returned to his feet. Ochi defended well and was never in danger but could mount no offense as time ticked away. It was a case of “if it is not broken don’t fix it” for Brooks who rinsed and repeated, doing exactly the same each round for a dominant display of grappling. The workmanlike performance earned him the nod from all 3 judges.

While Kanna Asakura was the clear favorite, Jayme “atombomb” Hinshaw showed heart and amazing flexibility in a competitive bout. Asakura hit a takedown in the 1st but landed in an armbar she fought hard to escape. Hinshaw scored with some good upkicks as Asakura punched and passed to side before threatening with a rear naked choke for the remainder of the round.

Asakura took a headkick from Hinshaw before transitioning to the ground and maneuvering to side position. Asakura slapped on a keylock before converting it to a straight Juji Gatame armbar. Completely extended “Atombombs” arm bent and twisted in strange ways but she gutted it out and survived to see the 3rd round.

A double leg takedown works right off the bat for Asakura but she wound up in a Hinshaw guillotine. Pulling her head out Asakura gets back to her trademark transition and submission game. Skillfully adjusting position to apply slick arm lock, key lock and kimura variations Hinshaw finally succumbed to the Kimura at 3:33 off round 3.


Yusuke Yachi and Hiroto Uesako put on the war fans hoped for. Ueseko took initiative and control early, marching down Yachi who was found his back against the cage. Southpaw Yachi launched body kicks to keep Uesako at bay. Uesako worked body and head very well, scoring as Yachi backed up. A knee in the clinch for Yachi opens a cut on Uesako as round concluded.

Doctor stepped in to look at Uesako’s cut at beginning of the 2nd round. Cleared to continue both fighters exchanged blow for blow until Yachi got a big right hand through. Yachi pursued as the tide shifted, throwing a lot of kicks and straights down the pipe. A composed Uesako got the read on the kicks and countered with straights, applying pressure again it pays off. Doubling up, heavy right straights tagged Yachi and put him down where a soccer kick grazed his head. Time expired as ref watched closely.

Sensing a finish Uesako waded in to put Yachi against the fence again. Uesako landed often but started to become more predictable as round progressed. Both simultaneously traded read straights and with 1 minute left the fight really heated up. Out of nowhere a wild 1-2 from Yachi and the left really did damage. Uesako wobbled and hit the canvas, from there a vicious soccer kick from Yachi sealed the deal. The spectacular finish came at 4:33 of the final round.

About the Author

Peter Leghorn
Writer and photographer sharing my passion for Martial Arts. instagram: peter_mmajapan

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