Shooto 2021, January 31st, Part 1, Results and Review

Main Event, Nobuki Fujii defeated Kenji Kato (Unanimous Decision, 30-26, 30-26, 30-26)

The fighters confronted each other as the main event got underway and intentions were made clear early. Seeking to keep the bout a striking affair, Kato adopted lateral movement, circling on the outside while pumping his jab. His opponent had other ideas, after getting caught with a hard blow, Fujii maneuvered to snag a single leg and take the fight to the canvas. Showcasing his air tight transitional and positional grappling on display, the Alliance team all-rounder passed his knee through the guard inch by inch to claim 1/2 guard then mount. Kato found his reversal Shortly before the round ended and defiantly walked back to his corner.

Fearlessly marching forward Fujii cut his adversary off and once again honed in on a single leg, his go-to takedown. Repetitively thrusting Kato down again and again with his perfectly executed single legs, the tenacious workhorse eventually settled into top position. From guard, he repeated the pattern of attack, driving his knee through to obtain 1/2 and then full mount. Fighting his way free from the bottom, Kato was acutely aware he is losing on the score cards. Sprawling the clinch attempts, the deadly striker threw combinations with fight ending intentions. A solid left and uppercut found their way through the defense but it was too little too late as time ran out.

By the time the 3rd round started, it was clear that Fujii had settled into his groove and had his opponents number. Understanding that something fight turning was desperately required, Kato maintained distance to avoid the clinch before leaping in with power punches. The cerebral all-rounder had worked out Kato’s timing and countered with a short left that stumbled the striker. Seizing the opportunity, Fujii closed the distance and effortlessly ensnared another single leg. History repeated itself as Fujii took side, 1/2 guard then mount, sitting up to rain down fists and elbows relentlessly. Enduring the blows, Kato surrendered his back with seconds left, fending off a choke as the final bell rung.

Drowning another tough opponent with his suffocating style, Nobuki Fujii proved his consistency once again, solidifying his position in the division. Kenji Kato aimed to capitalize on his moments, and the blows he landed had a lot of force behind them, his opportunities were far and few between however as he was sucked into his adversaries game.

Co-Main Event, Sotaro “Takataro” Yamada defeated Gunter “The Beast” Kalunda Ngunza (Heelhook, 1:08, R1)

A measured and judicious Yamada edged forward slowly, baiting Ngunza into committing to an attack. “The Beast” mirrored a low kick from Yamada, falling into the submission masters trap. Cinching the leg “Takataro” dropped immediately to his back and seamlessly locked up a heelhook. Ngunza rolled desperately but quickly tapped in pain at 1:08 of the opening round. With a spectacular performance in his return to MMA, the feared submission specialist Yamada just put the division on notice.

Bout 6, Yamato Nishikawa defeated Mark “Max the Body” Moleke (T/KO, Ground and Pound, 3:23, R2)

Nishikawa not afraid to trade with “Max the Body” early but the size and power difference was apparent. Mileke looked to make his opponent pay at every opportunity, swinging for the fences with winging 1-2’s. Nishikawa put money in the bank with chopping low kicks, even throwing in a rare spinning low heel kick. The powerhouse wrestler had little problem dragging fight to the mat. The power of Dream Sopporo youngster threatened of his back with triangle attempts before getting back to his feet. In the wild exchanges, Nishikawa showed great range awareness, barely avoiding the bombs coming his way. A left behind the head briefly wobbled Nishikawa and the Brave Gym wrestler clinched. Seizing back position “Max the Body” muscled his foe to the canvas, blasting a flush head kick as Nishikawa worked back to his feet. Nishikawa remained poised and unshaken as an electrifying round came to a close.

In the 2nd round, Nishikawa targeted right to the legs once again with powerful roundhouse kicks. “Max the Body” appeared to be tiring but still carried his signature power. Dumping his opponent to the canvas he threw Nishikawa’s legs to one side and blasted him with ferocious punches. The young fighter kept his composure and returned to the feet. Slipping a 1-2 from the wrestler, Nishikawa created the opening he was searching for. Grasping his hands around the girth of his intimidating opponent, he took the wrestler down and secured the back. Flattening “Max the Body” out he clubbed away with a barrage of right hands as damage mounted. Trapped, Moleke could not escape and the writing was on the wall. The referee stepped in and called a stop to the match at 3:23 of the 2nd round.

Bout 5, Hayato Ishii defeated Yoshizumi Kobayashi (Armbar, 4:20, R1)

As the 1st round commenced, Kobayashi planted his feet looking for heavy counters as Ishii used footwork to try to weave in his own strikes. The Hagane Gym representative found his mark as a straight right hand down the center knocked Ishiis head back. Switching tactics, Ishii shot a single and swung his foe to his back. The Tribe Tokyo fighter transitioned smoothly to the side as “Yoshizumi” grasped a Kimura grip. It proved to be the beginning of the end as Ishii slickly countered the lock with his own straight armbar from the top. The tap out came at 4:20 of the opening stanza.

The Infinity League tournament awards 4 points for a first round finish, 3 for a 2nd round finish, 2 for a decision win and 1 for a draw. Hayato Ishii scores maximum points for his first round finish and has positioned himself as an early favorite.

Bout 4, Kota Onojima drew Yasuyuki Nojiri (Split Draw, 20-18, 19-19, 18-20)

Nojiri was fast out the gates, switching stances and throwing furious kicks at every opportunity. Onojiri patiently bided his time and selected his shots, scoring a straight right counter from a kick. Persistence paid off for Onojima as he wrenched a double leg against the cage. In his realm the Combat Workout Diamonds grinder transitioned between double/ single legs and back takes to control the KO artist Nojiri.

As round 2 commenced Nojiri continued to throw with ill intent. The experienced Onojima was not phased, capitalizing on the aggression he secured another textbook takedown. Nojiri rolled out of trouble and let loose on the feet. Throwing caution to the wind the A-Spirit fighter unleashed lefts and rights to the head and pummeled knees and hooks to the body. Known for his durability, Onojima took the shots well and worked in his own dirty boxing, turning the tide with a flurry as time expired. The back and forth battle of styles ended in a split decision draw.

Under the Infinity League Tournament scoring system, the draw earns both fighters 1 point.

Bout 3. Takeshi Kinoshita defeated Kohei Osera (T/KO, Corner Stoppage 2:58, R1)

Southpaw Kinoshita put his striking on display from the get go. Stalking Osera, the Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS Karateka launched thudding left high kicks and blasted accurate left hands. Osera was game, making his debut, he bravely traded in the pocket but could not find any openings against his aggressive foe. A brutal left hook counter sent Gym Yokohama Groundslam to the canvas and repetitive left hands sealed the deal for Kinoshita as Osera’s corner threw in the baton (towel).

Bout 2. Yoshitomo “Yoshi” Inoue drew Taira Uehara (Split draw, 20-18, 18-20, 19-19)

In the first round progressed, Uehara took the imitative, firing heavy high, mid and low kicks from the southpaw stance. Inoue loaded up the counters but was finding it difficult to get his timing. Catching a mid kick, the boxer Inoue muscled his opponent to ground and rattled off some mean left hands. Uehara found his momentum late, a strong close range flurry and back to back left straights damaged the right eye of the Paraestra Kasai representative as the round progressed.

Finding his timing in Round 2, “Yoshi” established an effective jab to mark up the face of Uehara. With blood streaming from his nose the Reversal Gym Yokohama Groundslam fighter repeatedly lent on takedowns, but could not keep Inoue grounded. As the evenly matched bout went down to the wire, Uehara was the more active fighter, however the efficiency and accuracy of Inoue paid off in 2 of the 3 judges eyes.

Bout 1. Matsutaro Osorezan defeated Yoshiki Hitosugi, Submission Rear Naked Choke, 3:32 R1

After a tentative start from both southpaws, the debuting Hitsuji utilized strong front kicks to keep the counter punching Osorezan at bay. A perfectly placed front kick from the Suntou Shutout Club newcomer knocked his foe to the mat. Undeterred, the Paraestra Matsudo fighter bounced back to his feet, clinched and scored a crucial outside trip take down. Locking on a Rear naked Choke with lightning speed, Osorezan left Hitsuji out cold on the canvas at 3:32 of the opening round.

About the Author

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

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