Yutaka Saito defeated Mikuru Asakura (Decision, 3-0)
With the Featherweight title on the line Shooto Champion Yutaka Saito squared off against Rizin star and fan favorite Mikuru Asakura. The elite fighters traded blow for blow over 3 hotly contested rounds. Saito covered well and countered with straights and hooks, using superman punches and takedowns to keep his opponent guessing. Determined to avoid the ground game Asakura held on for restarts or clawed his way back up, receiving a yellow card for grabbing the ropes. Throwing well timed, heavy leather worked well for Asakura as he fired step in knees and 1-2 combinations. A left straight had Saito on rubbery legs in the final stanza but the Shooto standout held on. While Asakura had as few big moments the activity and consistency of Saito stole the judges eyes. With all 3 judges siding with Saito the Shooto Featherweight Champion collected the Rizin Featherweight belt.
Hiromasa Ogikubo defeated Kenta Takizawa (Decision, 3-0)
Well traveled with a wealth of high level experience Hiromasa Ogikubo battled prolific finisher, Pancrase representative Kenta Takizawa. With a staggering 16cm height advantage Takizawa lowered his stance significantly in preparation of a tackle. With a Shin Kyokushin Karate background Ogikubo proved he is more than a grappler, exchanging punches and low, high and spinning kicks with the deadly striker. The decisive moments happened in the final round, a lightning quick punch to left high kick attack caught Takizawa on the chin and dropped him to the canvas. The Pancrase fighter recovered well but as he stood the Rizin veteran cinched a double leg to put him down. Ogikubo expertly shifted between positions as he looked to take the back and finish. A late reversal and soccer kick attempt from Takizawa concluded an action packed match. With a unanimous decision Ogikubo got his hand raised, getting back on track after losing his last outing to champion Kai Asakura.
Ryuichiro Sumimura defeated Gota “Let’s Gota” Yamashita (Decision 2-1)
In another Champion vs Champion superfight, Welterweights squared off as Deeps Ryuichiro Sumimura met Gota “Let’s Gota” Yamashita from Pancrase. The match heated up in the 2nd round as a Yamashita head kick landed clean. Sumimura was resilient however and capitalized with a takedown. The Deep Champion gave position up for a chance at a fight ending soccer kick and action returned to the feet. “Let’s Gota” fought to gain back ground but the longer Sumimura was beating him to the target. With both exchanging heavy combinations the Pancrase Champion found success with straight hands and rear kicks to body and legs. Sumimura’s stiff jab and 1-2s bloodied his opponent and, switching the script in the 3rd, he leant on takedowns to secure a split decision victory 2 votes to 1.
Tatsuki Saomoto defeated Daichi Kitakata (Decision 3-0)
In the Straweight division, southpaw ZST champ Tatsuki Saomoto and King of Pancrase Daichi Kitakata both displayed a high level of technique in an evenly matched bout. Saomoto successfully took the Pancrase champ down throughout the match. Scooping a low single he swept the supporting leg in the first and continued with technical level and angle changes to plant Kitakata on his back in 2nd and 3rd. Kitakata defended with guillotine attempts, did damage with knees and was able to get back up. On the feet it was the ZST Champions speed and accuracy vs the Pancrase Champions body shots and power combinations. A jumping knee to double leg in the final round gave Saomoto brief side control, however, the match concluded with both exchanging hooks on the feet. The ZST Champion picked up the well earned victory and is now riding an impressive 11 fight win streak
Kyohei Hagiwara defeated Yoichiro Uchimura (KO Rnd 1, 0:22, right straight)
Fan favorite for his exciting style Yoichiro Uchimura and bad boy striker Kyohei Hagiwara threw with reckless abandon right off the bat. Hagiwara landed first, a lead hook briefly wobbled Uchimura then a follow up right straight counter to a jab knocked him down. The referee stepped in just as Hagiwara tried to stomp his fallen opponent. The crazy exchanges lasted only 22 seconds.
Kickboxing rules. Taiga Kawabe defeated Yuma Yamahata (Decision 30-28, 30-28, 30-28)
Taiga Kawabe has always carried fearsome fight turning power, something that he has relied on throughout his career. Technician Yuma Yamahata follows a more traditional approach, working combinations behind the jab. As the contrasting style clashed Yamahata utilized his range early, firing jabs and lead kicks, careful to not give anything away. Kawabe blasted on the inside with consecutive hooks followed by low kicks. As the fight progressed “Taiga” took control as his opponent slowed. Yamahata’s arms up, high guard defense allowed “Taiga” to explode and, while not landing clean, the damage became apparent. A relieved Kawabe started his comeback with a much needed win.
Kickboxing rules. Isami Sano defeated Hidenori Ebata (decision 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Taekwondo expert Hidenori Ebata and kickboxer Isami Sano made their pro debuts in a battle of range. In the 1st the 198cm tall Ebata put his 14cm height advantage and kicking game to work. Mixing front, side, roundhouse and question mark kicks he circled and scored frequently. By the 3rd the Taekwondo specialist was visibly tired though and, with little defense on the inside, Sano was finding his mark. A late knockdown on the fading Ebata in the final round secured a come back from behind victory for Asano.
Rikuto “Dark” Shirakawa defeated Kotetsu “No Face” Boku (T/KO, Rnd 3, 4:19, Soccer Kick)
Almost exclusively working from lead punches and kicks Kotetsu Boku mixed his attacks to constantly confuse Rikuto Shirakawa early. By the 2nd round, jabs, double jabs and lead hooks to the body and head from a series of feints had his opponent on the back foot. Fast and explosive Shirakawa threw everything with power, looping hooks and body shots. On the inside “Dark” had success but his chances seemed to be dwindling as fight progressed. The 3rd round changed everything however, “No Face” over extended a whipping lead hand and a perfectly timed short right from Shirakawa sent Boku tumbling to the canvas. Defending well from the bottom until a referee standup, Boku again aimed to establish control with constant pressure. Shirakawa proved once again with his dynamite power he just needs one chance. A right hand sent Boku crashing to the ground before a soccer kick sealed his fate 4:19 into the final round.
Kickboxing rules. Jin Mandokoro defeated Shuto Sato (Decision 30-28, 30-28, 30-28)
In the 2nd round Jin Mandokoro hurt Shuto Sato with a right to the body before a beautiful punch to spinning backfist combination sent him down for the count. Sato recovered well and did not shy away from heavy exchanges, displaying a lot of heart and taking the fight to Mandokoro. In the 3rd Sato’s persistence paid off with a body straight, head hook that had Mandokoro struggling to maintain balance. Mandokoro endured and stayed on his feet to take the decision.
Kickboxing rules. Shohei Asahara defeated Yuma “Mad Pierrot” Yamaguchi (T/KO, Rnd 3, 2:59, Left Hook)
Both kickboxers tested each others resolve from the start and neither would back down. Yuma Yamaguchi came forward fearless as Shohei Asahara met him with confidence. Asahara invested in set ups throughout while “Mad Pierrot” bargained on landing big power shots. Slick head movement from Asahura avoided the heavy hands but low calf kicks were hurting him. In return he was sharper and more refined with his combinations and landing clean combinations on Yamaguchi. After some slips and stumbles that could have been seen as knockdowns Asahara left no question in the 3rd. With 30 seconds left, Asahura downed Yamaguchi with a right straight left hook combination. A follow up left hook resulted in a spectacular KO for Asahura with just a second left in the last round