Naoki Inoue defeated Yuki Motoya (Rear Naked Choke, 3:00, round 1)
The battle of the super technicians of the Bantamweight division commenced on the feet as Inoue’s slick jab and fundamentals met Motoya’s unconventional, varied strikes. With both fighters using excellent footwork, Motoya doubled and tripled the right hands to catch his foe exiting. For Inoue, the refined boxing was finding its mark, reading the drop of his opponents head, he found a home for uppercuts. The more physical fighter, Inoue upped the volume on the feet and started to take over. Switching strategy the well-rounded Motoya sucked in a single leg and took the match to the ground. Inoue edged out to the side to counter prompting a skillful roll from Motoya to claim top position. The savvy grappler was prepared however, bypassing hooks to zone in and seize a rear naked choke. Motoya attempted to turn into the choke and escape but he was up against a rear naked choke specialist. Once the hooks were in the writing was on the wall for Motoya who had not option but to tap. The polished, specific, grappling of Inoue trumped the creative and adaptable skill-set of Motoya. Inoue’s stock skyrockets as he vies for title contention. For Motoya, traditionally a late starter, the gifted fighter heads back to the drawing board.
Kleber Koike Erbst defeated Kyle Aguon (D’arce/ Spinning choke, 4:15, Round 1)
Erbst made his intentions clear from the get-go as he attempted to strike his way into the clinch at every opportunity. Aguon kept it simple, held his ground and worked straight lefts and kicks to stymie his opponents aggression. Unfazed, the BJJ practitioner stuck to his gameplan, repeatedly striving to get through the Spike 22 fighters defense. Erbst stepped up the intensity, putting his opponent on the backfoot he landed a right hand that momentarily dropped the fighter from Guam. As Aguon worked to get back to his feet, the Bonzai JuJitsu ace cinched a modified D’Arce/ Spinning Choke variation, fell to the ground and rolled to mount, by which time Aguon was out cold. The BJJ guru became the first fighter to finish Aguon as he notched up his 22nd submission victory. The incredible performance definitely put Rizin’s Featherweight division on notice.
Kyohei “Kenka Bancho” Hagiwara defeated Ren Hiramoto (Referee Stoppage, Ground and Pound, 1:29, Round 2)
After engaging in a war of words any epectation that MMA striker Hagiwara would engage in a striking battle went out the window as soon as the fight started. Hiramoto is a K-1 master but a relative novice on the ground. While grappling is definitely not Hagiwara’s forte, he proved more than capable enough to dominate the Kickboxer on the mat. Grit and determination saved Ren in the 1st round. The esteemed striker survived back mount, mount, ground and pound and a tight choke to weather the storm and make it to the bell.
In the 2nd it was more of the same as “Kenka Bancho” wasted no time bullying his opponent to the ropes and taking the fight to the ground. From top he easily mounted a tired Hirakawa and pounded away until the corner threw in the towel. The few strikes the K-1 star landed were heavy but he was outmatched in size and MMA experience. Hagiwara retained his 100% finishing rate and demonstrated that he has more than one string to his bow.
Hideo “Little Volk” Tokoro defeated Shinobu Ota (Armbar, 2:23, Round 2)
A world class athlete, Greco Roman Olympian Ota showed a lot of promise in his transition to MMA. Tokoro was a whirlwind of submissions the mat and Ota did a fantastic job of staying safe in the first round. He slammed his way out of armbars and kept good posture on top to shut out kneebar attempts, reversals and other submissions. On the feet was where the experience difference was apparent, Tokoro sent the Wrestler to the mat in first with a right hand off a kick. Recovering quick Ota had his moments in the first round, channeling his inner Sakuraba for a jumping stomp. Effectively throwing the submission specialist down at will, Ota kept top pressure and delivered some ground and pound. Tokoro came within a hairs breath of submitting the top caliber wrestler and went back to his corner with confidence.
The fighters touched gloves to start the 2nd round and got back down to business. “Little Volk” looked for an armbar off a takedown but the former Olympian once again defended well. With Ota heavy and low on top Tokoro demonstrated his flexibility, wrapping his legs around the head, he secured the arm and a leg to roll the wrestler. After breaking the grip Tokoro extended the arm, countered Ota’s defensive spin and locked the armbar for the tap. The mesmerizing exchanges between the contrasting grappling styles was a joy to watch. Tokoro successfully returns to MMA after spending 3 years in the grappling circuit. Ota made an impression in his debut and established himself as a fighter to keep an eye on.