Main Event Bantamweight Championship Match 5M x 5R
Ryo Okada defeated Takafumi Otsuka (Dec 29-26, 28-27, 50-45)
As the title match got underway you could cut the tension with a knife. Neither fighter took a backward step as they remained coiled and ready to strike. Acutely aware of their opponents skill level, Ryo Okada and Takafumi Otsuka traded kicks through much of the round, careful not to leave an opening. Okada went low, inside and out, with heavy, committed kicks. Otsuka fired often and with precision, crescent kicks to body and outside low kicks. With a lot of feigns and stance switches, the smaller, speedier Otsuka kept busy. After a fast entry to take the fight to the ground, the T-Grip wrestler found himself reversed by the grappling savvy Okada. With the champion unable to secure top position Otsuka was content to sit against the cage and drop short strikes until a referee break. In the dying seconds, the tenacious Otsuka scored a double leg, secured top position and send a statement to the champion.
Confident entering the 2nd, the challenger claimed the cage centre once again. Constant stance switches and diverse attacks kept the Paraestra fighter at bay. Around the 1/2 way mark Okada began to solve the puzzle and adapt. Low calf and leg kicks were adding up and the champions deadly straight right hand inching closer. Not giving an inch, Otsuka timed punches to counter the low kicks as both fighters started to find range. Right hands and crescent front kicks found their mark for the T-Grip fighter as he switch stepped to get in range. Okada lent on his kicking game and landed a solid right straight of his own. With little to separate the fighters another tight round came to a close.
The warriors exchanged strike for strike while both keeping tight defence. Flipping the script Otsuka dropped to cinch the legs and rotate to score a lightning quick takedown. Okada immediately stood but had the wrestling specialist glued to his back. Attempting to disrupt the Champion’s balance the T-Grip fighter wrenched him from the cage to look for the takedown. A quick re-set from the referee and both continued where they left off. Otsuka looked to put a stamp on the round with increased activity, finding a home for hand combinations, body and leg kicks. All was going to plan until an thunderous Okada right hand behind the ear put Otsuka down and left him scrambling to recover as the time expired.
A self-assured Okada emerged as the championship rounds got underway. Finding an answer to the punch attacks he retaliated with kicks to the ribs. A low blow from an Okada kick briefly halted the action. Once the fight resumed both fighters had cranked upped their volume. For much of the round they mirrored each others strikes, inside and outside leg kicks, body shots and crisp punching combinations. Okada landed the harder, eye catching moments while the challenger claimed the real estate and threw sharp and frequent combinations.
Otsuka started the final stanza strong, with his deceptive karate striking he flowed between punch and kick combinations assigning the Paraestra representative to defence. A crucial takedown from Okada had the challengers legs locked. Unable to flatten the wrestler out Otsuka hit a switch reversal to briefly put Okada on his back. As they stood, Otsuka chipped away with knees from back control until the champion broke free. In the last 30 seconds, Okada shot from the outside in an attempt to steal the round. A strong sprawl from his opponent and the champion was once again against the fence. From the back Otsuka scored 2 eye catching throws as time expired on a fiercely competitive fight.
While the volume and grappling control belonged to Osuka, the judges sided with the big moments from Okada. The wrestling workhorse Otsuka once again finds himself on the wrong side of a decision in a fight where every round was tight. For the champion, Okada made his attacks count and landing the cleaner, more damaging blows that likely swayed the judges. A jubilant Ryo Okada celebrated a successful title defence against a very tenacious and difficult opponent.
Co-Main event 5M x 3R
Tatsuro Taira defeated Yoshihiro Maeda (Sub, Rear Naked Choke, 1:01, R1)
Tatsuro Taira was quick out of the gate to exchange with the Pancrase Inagakigumi veteran. Both traded heavy leather for a moment until they clashed and grappled. Taira wrapped and arm around the head for a potential guillotine, prompting an explosive reversal. Maeda dropped to his back to flip the Paraestra Okinawa top ranker over his head. As the veteran turned into his opponent Taira was ready, with arm in position he seized back control in a flash. Locking up a tight rear naked choke Maeda fought to his last breath, going out on his shield, he passed out at 1:01 of the opening round. With the win number 1 ranked contender keeps his perfect record at 8-0. Given his resume, will be difficult to deny Taira his title shot.
Joji Goto defeated Mamoru “Full Swing” Uoi (Dec 30-27, 30-27, 30-26,)
Both fighters made their intentions clear from the get-go. Uoi biding his time focused on that one fight ending “full-swing” blow. Conversely, Goto mixed his attacks, relying on variation, versatility and movement. Stopping Uoi in his track before he could fire and angling just out of reach when the “pitching” style overhands flew, Goto shut the heavy hitter down. Locked and loaded Uoi was rendered a spectator much of the round, unable to read the attacks coming his way. Coming over the top of a looping hook the Tribe Tokyo tactician chained together a right hand, left hook combination that dropped Uoi to his knees. Unloading a barrage of well placed punches Goto was unable to seal the deal. Stalking with his jab, Goto closed the round strong.
Uncomfortable on his back foot, the Wajutsu Keishukai HEARTS KO specialist had little respite in the 2nd round. Goto pilled on the pressure and would not let “Full Swing” off the hook. With jab firmly established a relaxed Goto chopped the legs with roundhouse kicks. Uoi was game, covering and returning fire he found range for his monster left hooks on a few occasions but lacked the penetration to really cause damage.
The Tribe Tokyo MMA representative took centre of the cage once again to start the 3rd. Wary that his opponent was always dangerous, Goto took his foot of the gas a little, pawing and measuring with intermittent heavy kicks and straights. Putting his faith in landing one big fight ending shot, “Full Swing” struggled to find his mark. Goto looked fantastic, utilizing the right strategy and choice of tools to get the job done. It was an impressive performance, one that will no doubt have put him in contention for a title shot.
Kazuhiro “Bunta” Sugawara defeated Motoshi Miyaji (TKO, ref stoppage, 3:18, R2)
A tentative Sugawara engaged in a low kicking battle with Miyaji as they both got their feet wet early in the first. With his versatile Karate attacks “Bunta” utilized lead and rear kicks to legs and head before unleashing a spinning back kick to the body. Momentarily stunned Miyaji did an excellent job composing himself and establishing range, evading and blocking he landed scored his own hard leg kicks.. When in range however, Sugawara was firing with ill intent at every opportunity, scoring big as the round ended.
Miyaji found success with his reach as the 2nd round commenced. Double jabs kept the Masters Japan striker honest and a solid 1-2 snapped his head back. The Paraestra fighter got a little too confident and strayed into Sugawara’s range and it cost him. “Bunta” uncorked a short right hook to put his foe down and then swarmed him, throwing knees, kicks and punches with reckless abandon. On rubbery legs Miyaji drew upon his experience to try to weather the storm, clinching, firing back but but Sugawara was not to be denied another finish. A brutal left straight from “Bunta” dropped the veteran to his knees as the referee mercifully called the fight. It took him until the 2nd round this time but Sugawara retains his 100% finishing rate and evens his record to 6-6-1
Mark “Max The Body” Moleke defeated Taira Uehara (Dec 20-18, 20-18, 20-18)
With constantly improving striking “Max The Body” was content to trade with Uehara in order to work his way into the clinch. Uehara briefly dropped the wrestling powerhouse but found himself bullied against the fence for much of round 1. A wild swing from a frustrated Uehara and the Brave Gym wrestler swept him off his feet and took side control. From there the wrestler kept the top heavy pressure to see the round out.
Uehara flew through the air the very moment Round 2 started, only to be met with a side step and heavy punch from “Max The Body.” The remainder of the match was very much a mirror image of the first. With his back against the cage the Reversal Gym Yokohama Groundslam fighter could do little against Moleke. “Max The Body” muscled another takedown and took 1/2 guard where he prioritized position while raining down hammer-fists. Taking a clear cut decision “Max The Body” notched his first Shooto win with a dominant display of raw power and solid fundamentals. Uehara suffered a setback but is still young in his career, expect him to come back with a vengeance.
2nd match, Infinity League Tournament, 2R x 5M
Yasuyuki Nojiri Defeated Takahiro Ichijo (Sub, Rear Naked Choke, 4:38 R2)
As soon as the opening bell sounded, Nojiri shot straight for the legs. Ichijo sprawled and seized a tight 10 finger guillotine but soon found himself defending a rear naked choke as the tide turned. A beautifully executed Ashi Gurama and powerful slam from Nojiri. He wore his Braveheart Gym foe down, pummelling with strikes at every opportunity. Ichijo had his moments, reversals, choke attempts and control time. Ichijo went for broke as first round ended, swinging wildly before locking up a tight Guillotine as round closed.
Both warriors continued the non stop back and forth action in the 2nd round. Ichijo was able to reverse and threaten with submissions but as the round progressed the undefeated youngster was slowly taking over. From the back, Nojiri used savage strikes to set up rear naked choke attempts until finally he was able to catch the neck. True to his gym Ichijo fought a brave fight, holding on until the end came with just 22 seconds left in the 2nd round. Demonstrating that he can fight through adversity and set the pace, solid prospect Nojiri increased the intensity as the fight progresses in order to claim a decisive victory.
Opening match 2R x 5M
Yuki “Submission” Takahashi defeated Yoshiaki “Teruryu” Kiryu (Inside Heelhook, 0:42 R1)
After touching gloves Takahashi performed a picture perfect Imanari Roll to lock up Kiryu’s legs. Grabbing the arms to defend the Roots fighter fought to free himself but “Submission” lived up to his name. Breaking “Teruryu’s” grip he fell back to execute a tight inside heelhook for an instant tap out at just 42 seconds of the opening round. Kiryu was the underdog but is well schooled on the ground, taking the first submission loss of his career will be a tough pill to swallow. Takahashi has established himself as a hot prospect, 2 profession fights, 2 sensational submission finishes.