Shooto 2021, January 31st, Part 2, Results and Review

Main Event, Pacific Rim Featherweight Championship,
Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu defeated Taison Naito (Rear Naked Choke, 2:36 R2)

Both warriors exchanged kick for kick as battle for the Pacific Rim Middle weight bout got underway. Every attack was met and matched by their counterpart as Naito and “Sasuke” held their ground. Sasu stepped in with perfectly placed punch counters to the Roots gym fighters kicks. Catching middle kicks, Sasuke attempted to take the fight to the ground but Naito was on point with his defense. With shorter reach, Naito soldiered forward, catching the champion at the end of long combinations. Getting a read on the rhythm and attacks, Sasu slipped to the outside and hit a beautiful Osoto Gari sweep. Naito stood but was immediately ensnared with an Ouchi Gari inside trip. In the clinch the physical disparity was clear as Sasu pinned his foe against the fence and battered the leg with heavy knees. Unwavering, the game Naito broke free and weaved in a 5 punch combination to catch the Champion. Showing his high fight IQ, Sasuke adapted and scored a big double leg as his opponent sequenced a combination, grounding Naito as the round closed.

Round 2 commenced with the astute Champion finding his mark quick. A pin point left hook staggers the challenger, bringing his guard up and creating an opening for another double leg. Naito is adept at getting back to his feet and, undeterred, commenced another attack. Naito was bullied to the ground off a caught body kick but again sprung back up. As he marched forward and unleashed as sequence of punches, Sasuke was ready. With a sharp right knee counter straight up the center he sent Naito to the canvas. Smelling blood the Masters Japan standout flailed away with an onslaught of strikes. In an effort to escape the dazed challenger gave his back for a brief moment, which was all the champion needed to lock up a fight ending rear naked choke.

Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu retains the Pacific Rim strap with back to back stoppages. With his technique, fight IQ, skill set and athleticism the champion is going from strength to strength. With his outstanding performances a showdown with Shooto Featherweight title holder Yutaka Saito appears to be on the cards!

Co-Main Event, Tsubasa Saito defeated Takumi Arai, (Majority Decision 19-18, 19-19, 19-18)

Saito and Arai collided early, both throwing leather with reckless abandon. The fight got a little too wild, as each fighter received a low blow within the first 30 seconds of the opening stanza. Carrying the speed advantage, Arai was unorthodox with his attacks, switching range and techniques. Saito stuck to solid basics and blasted low calf kicks that lifted the Strapple Shinyurigaoka wrestler off his feet. As Arai resorted to a switch of stances, Saito pulverized the opposite leg with more calf kicks. Without a leg to stand on the wrestlers guard was low and the Tsudanuma brawler then went high, dropping his foe with a straight and follow up hook. Showing enormous heart, Arai traded 1-2’s, bloodying Saito’s eye as he absorbed another chopping low calf kick. With seconds left Saito steps forward and hammers a right that puts his opponent down again. Believing he had a KO finish Saito walked off, failing to notice Arai was still standing, barely, and ref had not stopped the bout.

Unwavering, a resolute Arai strode forward to engage. Saito rag-dolled Arai in the clinch and clutched onto his back. Digging deep into his bag of wrestling techniques Arai wrapped a leg behind his opponents, twisted and hooked the remaining leg with his arms for a masterful reversal. From 1/2 guard Arai worked for a shoulder choke and pounded the body until the referee unexpectedly called a break. With 2 minutes remaining another low calf kick had the wrestler limping, a surge by Saito and Arai amazingly scored another reactive takedown. Arai opened up on the ground allowing Saito to work to his feet before putting him back down with a double leg to end the round.

Takumi Arai put up a courageous performance and showed tremendous resolve and willpower. The thunderous blows and potential fight ending moments from Tsubasa Saito could not be denied, 2 of the judges gave the Tsudanuma Gym heavy hitter 10-8 scores for the first round awarding him the victory.

Bout 3, Yuto Sekiguchi defeated Yusuke Kamata (Majority Decision, 20-18, 20-18, 19-19)

Both combatants squared off in the southpaw stance as Sekiguchi tested the waters with flicking jabs and spin kicks. Kamata remained reserved, locked and loaded to land something big. Circling the perimeter Sekiguchi varied his attacks and drew his opponent in, snagging a takedown of a jumping knee. Kamata maintained good defense but got caught by elbows just before the bell rang.

Pressing forward in the 2nd, Kamata traded, landing a straight left on the boxer. With his lead left hand extended as a rangefinder Sekiguchi turned up the heat on the outside and tagged his opponent as he came in. Keeping his opponent guessing Sekiguchi again opted for an opportunistic takedown. He found it impossible to keep the Philoktetes Niigata gym grappler on his back however and could not mount any offense. Kamata charged in with a left then right, working his way back into the round. Sekiguchi resorted to wrestling once more, hoisting, rotating and planting Kamata on the mat. Nullifying any attacks and fishing for a guillotine Kamata finished the round on his back. With little damage done, one judge scored the bout even while 2 felt Sekiguchi had done more than enough for the win.

Bout 2, Hayato “Shun” Sasaki defeated Naoto Terashima (T/KO, Referee Stoppage, 4:23 R2)

As the first round got underway neither fighter looked like they were making their professional debuts. With poise, precision and technique both displayed an impressive range of MMA skills. Sasaki established range with solid jabs and crosses and held the real estate for much of the first round. When Terashima struck, however, it was with power, buckling the legs with multiple low kicks. With action heating up both fighters began to find their targets, alternating blistering exchanges with little regard to defense. Terashima loaded massive right hands to the head before snaring a takedown. The T-Grip representative dug deep and climbed to his feet but was absorbing a lof of blows.

Unshaken, “Shun” came out gins blazing for the 2nd round, sending Terashima to the canvas with a picture perfect right straight. Charging in for the finish, Sasaki instead found himself reversed by the savvy Terashima. With 1 minute remaining Sasaki willed himself to his feet. A sensational firefight transpired as both warriors bombarded each other with destructive lefts and rights. Both landed heavy but it was Terashima who started to fade under the right hands of Sasaki. Taking considerable damage on the feet the referee mercifully stopped the contest at 4:23 of the final round. Neither fighter fought like it was their professional debut and both emerged as fighters to keep an eye on in the future.

Bout 1, Kazuma Sone defeated Teruto “Yashabo” Ishihara (Unanimous Decision 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

“Yashabo” kicked off the first round, racking up consecutive high, mid and low roundhouse attacks from the southpaw stance. With knees to the body and monstrous leg kicks, a relaxed Ishihara was in the drivers seat for the first 1/2 of the round. Sone doubled up his right hands to get on the inside, driving the deadly striker to the fence to secure a takedown. Yashabo clawed his way back to the feet instantaneously slicing and elbow strike on the break. and a 1-2 fromn Sone is beautifully countered by a Yashabo. On rubbery legs Sone weathered the storm of knees and kicks and retailated. Giving his opponent a taste of his own medicine the Shimura Dojo veteran stunned “Yashabo” with a left and a high kick as the exciting round came to a close.

It was clear that Ishihara would not have everything his own way as Sone was steadfast in his resolve. As they traded it was the Team Alpha Male Japan slugger that dropped levels for a surprise double leg. Threatening with a guillotine, Sone made space to stand where he rocked Ishihara with a right hook, sitting him on the canvas. A scramble ensued and both fought to their feet. “Yashabo’s” spring and swagger gone the rangy striker was much more cautious in his attacks. His adversary was also patient. When they did clash they exchanged wild power shots hunting for the KO. At the very end of an even round both fighters touched gloves in a show of respect.

The final round proved crucial. Ishihara continued to almost exclusively use left sided attacks. Not to be outdone Sone responded with his one inside leg kicks and straights. Shutting down a takedown attempt Sone lands the elbow on the exit this time around. Diving from the outside, “Yashabo” reaches for the legs but runs into a solid sprawl. Locking the head Sone shifts to take the back and grasps at a Rear Naked Choke. “Yashabo” resists and reverses and the combatants confront each other on the feet once again. Ishihara was winning the striking battle on the outside with Sone doing his best work in close. A step in right hand jarred “Yashabo’s” head back as Sone finished the round strong, with a barrage of “pitching” hooks and a jumping knee.

All 3 judges judges sided with Kazuma Sone, who stole the big moments in the hotly contested match and was more consistent throughout.

About the Author

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

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