For January 26th Shooto 2020 main event, the number 1 and 2 ranked fighters faced off to determine who would hold the vacant Strawweight title in a 5 round match. Reliable Dojo’s Yohei Komaki entered the bout smiling as he doubled up on the jab and pressed forward on Koha “Hiroba” Minowa throwing bombs. Hands by his sides, Komaki showed no respect for the STL gym representatives striking as he backed him against the cage and threw straight hands and 1-2s with bad intentions.
In the 2nd the momentum shifted drastically after a single leg attempt from Komaki gave “Hiroba” the opportunity he needed to shine with his grappling prowess. Defending the single Minowa hit a slick reversal to take the back and execute a takedown. Komaki showed a well versed guard game but while transitioning gave Minowa the opportunity to pass and take his back once again. “Hiroba” was destructive from the back, flattening his foe out and pounding away until he locked up a rear naked choke for the tap with just 7 seconds left in the round.
Now 11-2 Minowa has finished all of his professional wins and 10 have come in 1st or 2nd round. It seems a matter of time before he gets a big break on a world stage.
With the Pacific Rim Featherweight strap on the line Tsudanuma Dojo`s Takashi Nakayama challenged Champion Mitsuhiro Toma, fighting out of TK68 gym. The opening frame was tense as the champion, looking for a big counter, held the center and pressured the challenger to elicit a reaction. Nakayama utilized hit and move tactics and scored a brief takedown from a Toma kick.
The 2nd round found both fighters sticking to their strategies, looking to feignt and counter. Southpaw, Toma countered with heavy strikes immediately off anything Nakayama threw but was largely unable to land. Apprehensive and cautious not to engage in a firefight the challenger landed less powerful blows but he had the volume. With great distance awareness the Tsudanuma Dojo fighter stayed either on the outside or the clinch where he was comfortable. Mid way through the round demonstrating good sportsmanship Nakayama paused to let Toma take out a partially moved contact lens before action continued. As the round came to a conclusion Nakayama launched rear leg kicks and evaded the rushes from an aggressive Toma.
In the 3rd both knew the fight was close and a mistake could be costly, With the title on the line and stakes high both refused to bend their gameplans and aimed to enforce their games. Nakayama scored with single rear leg kicks frequently while the Champion looked for the jab counter. Toma easily shut down Nakayama’s attempts to clinch but found difficulty landing his big strike counters. A huge right hand landed for Nakayama but he failed on the post strike takedown and went to his back. Toma tried to make him pay, dropping hammerfists but Nakayama used slick grappling to defend and get back to his feet as the buzzer sounded.
A tight match went all the way down to the wire. In the end a razor thin split decision went in favor of the challenger Nakayama’s calculated approach, 29-28×2, with the dissenting judge scoring every round for the Champion’s aggression 30-27.
Alliance gym’s Nobuki Fujii and Nascer Do Sol’s Takumi Tamaru kicked off their match with some blistering exchanges that set the tone for the rest of the bout between the 2 top rankers. Tamaru was busy with lead leg high kicks and used movement to evade as Fujii lunged forward with continuous pressure from loaded strikes. In the clinch Tamaru showed his flexibility with a high kick and looked for hip tosses, in contrast, Fujii went for more traditional double legs.
Round 2 underway Tamaru was effectively chambering and firing lightning fast kicks. Fujii controlled the real estate and loaded up with jabs, body punches and hooks. About 1/2 way into the round both swung with hooks with Fujii coming off worse, he stumbled and Tamaru swarmed with combinations. Fujii recovered and got aggressive once again, Tamaru dropped down for a double leg takedown and elbowed from top. Fujii kicked out and returned to the feet and amped up the aggression knocking out Tamaru’s mouthpiece, coming on strong at the end of the round.
In the 3rd Fujii came out chasing, pawing out jabs and body shots as Tamaru ducked and countered with lead kicks. Defending the takedown Fujii scored a single leg of his own which Tamaru countered with a deep guillotine. Fujii kept composure and worked out of the position to take a bit of top control time. Tamaru could not be kept down though and with 1 min 30 left they traded furiously. A jumping knee landed for Tamaru, who effectively timed his jab and kick counters as Fujii stormed in. Another Fujii takedown was met by a guillotine attempt before a scramble ensued where both fighters had their moments.
In the fight of the night Tamaru was the busier fighter and scored the big moments in the bout. Fujii was aggressive, dug deep to pressed the action, throwing big shots. After 3 action packed rounds the judges felt Tamura had done enough to take the dec with unanimous 30-27 scores.
Mamoru “Fullswing” Uoi started out the 1st round with Motonobu Tezuka true to form, with massive “fullswing” hooks. Shrewd veteran Tezuka predicted the barrage and ducked under for a takedown. Showing his strong grappling acumen Tezuka maintained position, did enough damage to avoid a stand up but prioritize control. Frustrated and pinned to the canvas for the most part, “Fullswing” could do little in the opening stanza.
Misfortune struck at the start of the 2nd round, as Tezuka went for a single leg and Uoi stepped over. In the ensuing scramble and takedown Uoi fell, snapping his left arm badly and tapping immediately. The unfortunate end came only 19 seconds into the second round giving Tezuka the TKO victory.
Weighing in 2.2kg over the limit Gridlock Fitness fighter Jared Almazan was issued a 1 point per round penalty in his fight with Paraestra Okinawa stand out Tatsuro Taira. As first round commenced Taira flew in with a jump knee only to be promptly lifted, rotated and dumped on his back. Springing back up Taira answered with a barrage of strikes, a 1-2 followed by knees served him well. Going high and low with kicks the damage from Taira racked up. Almazan attempted to rally back into the fight but Taira stalked, unloaded strikes and kept the Filipino on defense. Effortlessly going to the ground and into 1/2 guard, a foot on Almazan’s knee enabled Taira to pass to mount. From dominant positions the Paraestra fighter delivered some brutal ground and pound on top. With referee looking closely time expired on a dominant round for Taira.
Just 19 seconds into the 2nd round Taira finally broke through the tough Filipinos defense. A well placed knee to the body followed by huge clubbing hooks behind the ear send Almazan to the canvas prompting the referee to step in.
Shooting Gym Yokohama all rounder Junji “Sarumaru” Ito met heavy hitter, team Lakay’s Jerome “Torogi” Wanawan. “Sarumaru” hustled a double leg takedown from a kick, made space and rained down sharp well placed blows. The Filipino worked back to his feet and fired heavy leather, with a 1-2 landing Junji transitioned once again to the takedown.
In the 2nd round the Filipino striker found better rhythm with his kick and punch combinations, throwing everything with heat. Ito seized a single and steered the team Lakai fighter into double to put him on his back. From the side “Sarumaru” controlled and created distance to load up on damaging blows. Wanawan capitalized on the space to work back to his feet. From there heavy hooks and counters contended with Sarumaru’s precise step in combinations.
Ito worked jab, head movement and speed to enter into another double leg in the 3rd. From 1/2 he applied heavy top pressure and periodically created space to pound the head of Wanawan. The team Lakay representative rose to his feet but could not stifle another swift single to double transition. A skilled defensive ground game kept Wanawan in the fight as he made it to his feet again. Fatigued and winded the Filipino still swung for the fences with all he had. Ito was accurate and slick as he landed lead lefts, 1-2s and drove Wanawan’s head down to meet quick knees.
The durable Lakay fighter from the Philippines had his moments on the feet, weathered the storm every time it hit the ground and did well to make it to the bell. “Sarumaru” hunted a finish but in the settled for a unanimous decision victory 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Shooto all Japan amateur Atomweight ladies champion and decorated Judoka, AACCs Saori Oshima landed in a bit of trouble against Grand Slam representative Yuki Ono, whot took 3rd place at the same amateur tournament. A failed koshi guruma head and arm throw exposed the Judoka’s back and Ono briefly had hooks locked in. Oshima worked out of trouble to take top position and delivered punches from guard as the crafty Ono threatened continuously with arm bars.
In the 2nd round Oshima scored with a similar throw but this time successfully passed to side. Threatening with an Americana the AACC fighter moved to crucifix and hammered away for the stoppage at 3:15 of the round.
Takeaki Kinoshita came out guns blazing in his match with Takehide Kobayashi. Backed against the cage Kobayashi frequently tried spinning back fist counters but ended up getting punished by a barrage of kicks and punches. A Kinoshita right hand found its mark and put Kobayashi down for the referee stoppage at 1:24 of the opening round.
Neo Judo fighter Harley “The Dundee Kid” Behan was out for revenge against AACC’s Masato Iguchi, having lost to him in the Shooto All Japan Amateur finals. Avoiding the clinch Behan utilized his reach to fire sharp 1-2s that kept Iguchi wary. From a southpaw Karate stance Iguchi circled and launched kicks with intent to clinch. In the dying seconds of the first Harley stepped in with a perfectly placed right hand to send the AACC fighter crashing to the canvas. Some Behan ground and pound and the referee jumped in to call the fight at 4:56.