Shooto 2021, January 31st Double Header, Part 2 Preview

The January 31st Shooto “double header” continues with 5 additional evening matches, from 17:30 JST. Starting with a sensational bout to open the show, the evening cumulates with an intriguing main event with the Pacific Rim Featherweight title on the line.

Main Event, Pacific Rim Featherweight Championship,
Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu (Champion) vs Taison Naito (Challenger) 3R x 5M

Typically a high IQ cerebral fighter who implements precision timing with explosive take downs and ground control, “Sasuke” flipped the script in his title shot. Charging out the gates like a fighter possessed, the champion looked sensational. Looking sharp on the feet, a blistering straight punch sent the then champion, Takashi Nakayama, crashing to the canvas. Unleashing a flying knee “Sasuke” proceeded to dismantle the battle tested Nakayama with a barrage of crushing ground and pound to emphatically take the title. For the Pacific Rim Title holders first defense, he is sure to have studied his adversary and developed a formula for success. With his stock is at an all time high expect the Masters Japan standout to put on a show when he steps into the cage.

Fighting out of Roots gym under mentor Rumina Sato, Taison Naito is an extremely versatile all-rounder that is best known for his savage hands, elbows and ground and pound. With unwavering determination and spirit, Naito has a “do or die” approach to his fights and never takes a backward step. While it has cost him in the past, his tenacious approach may prove advantageous against the athletic Champion who fights in “sprints”. Putting his hands to good use, Naito brutalized the dangerous Jin Aoi with ground and pound for the stoppage in the 2nd round. The Roots warrior has been given a tremendous opportunity that he will not squander, expect the very best Taison Naito vying for the title.

Co-Main Event, Tsubasa Saito vs Takumi Arai, Featherweight, 2R x 5M

Sturdy and compact brawler Tsubasa Saito approaches every fight with the same intensity. With massive clubbing hooks and loaded strikes the Tsudanuma Dojo banger is deceptively skilled. Particularly adept at submission defense and returning to his feet Saito can hold his own on the mat. Coming off back to back losses he put up a brave performance against top contenders Hayato Ishii and Nobuki Fujii. In a reversal of fortunes he faces a relative newcomer, someone he would like to make an example of to put himself back on the map.

Drawing the unenviable task of facing off against Saito, Takumi Arai lacks experience and cage time but should be brimming with confidence. The Strapple Shinyurigaoka athlete scored a 2nd round T/KO over Katsuhiko Taniguchi and will ride that momentum coming into Sundays bout. Embracing the underdog role, Arai has little to lose by going for broke against the rugged veteran. If he can defy the odds and secure a win, his career will take off.

Bout 3, Yuto Sekiguchi vs Yusuke Kamata, Bantamweight, 2R x 5M

A short stint in Boxing served Yuto Sekiguchi well. Transitioning back to MMA the Shooto Gym Tokyo fighter crushed Yo Otake with a right hook in the 1st round. Yusuke Kamata will pit his control based grappling against the Boxer in a clash of styles. The Philoktetes Niigata gym member is also coming of a first round stoppage, a triangle choke over Daisuke Suzuki. Both fighters will be confident in a classic grappler vs striker bout.

Bout 2, Hayato “Shun” Sasaki vs Naoto Terashima, Bantamweight, 2R x 5M

While T-Grip’s Hayato “Shun” Sasaki and Submit MMA’s Naoto Terashima may be making their professional debuts, both have already made an impact in the fiercely competitive Shooto Amateur circuit. Expect a high level of exchanges between these 2 amateur Shooto standouts as both fight tooth and nail for a successful debut.

Bout 1, Teruto “Yashabo” Ishihara vs Kazuma Sone, Featherweight, 3R x 5M

Starting the evenings bouts with a bang, Teruto “Yashabo” Ishihara has big name recognition and an international following. After about a years hiatus the returns, the fan favorite makes his highly anticipated Shooto debut. “Yashabo” possesses a “go for broke” style, looking for a shootout on the feet at every opportunity. His approach has not always paid off, after slugging it out with many of the worlds finest in the UFC, “Yashabo” found himself cut from the promotion. The Team Alpha Male Japan representative will look for an explosive start to a new chapter of his career and will settle for nothing less than a KO.

In a similar vein to his opponent, Kazuma Sone has faced trial of fire as of late, dropping his last 5 to top tier competitors, contenders and champions. Showing up for his 45th fight, Sone has a vast amount of experience and knows very well how to use it. Able to drag his opponents into deep waters, the Shimura Dojo veteran has proven himself capable of big upsets and rocking the boat. Hungry for a win, both fighters will throw caution to the wind in a perfect match up to get the crowd going!


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

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