Shooto 2021 Volume 3, March 16th, Preview

Old generation and new converge at Shooto 2021 Volume 3, this Sunday, 17:00 JST. Korakuen Hall, a venue synonymous with Martial Arts in Japan, once again hosts the action. With 11 matches, Shooto has assembled an intriguing card with in impressive assortment of fighters. MMA-Japan once again provides a preview of the bouts and their significance for the competitors. For a simple and informative list, scroll to the bottom of the page.


A Generation Clash and Chance for Redemption

MMA pioneer Kaoru “Shoten” Uno started his MMA journey at an Japan Shooto Association gym under the guidance of fellow legend, Rumina Sato. After a short time, however, he switched to Wajutsu Keishukai headquarters where he honed his skills under the tutelage of Masahiku Kimura student, the late Yoshinori Nishi.

Bursting on to the Shooto MMA scene Uno shared the ring with such luminaries as Hayato Sakarai as he climbed his way to the top. His ascent peaked with a title match in 1999 against none other than “Shooto Charisma” himself, former teacher Rumina Sato. The back and forth war was classic that went down in the history books as one of Shooto’s best bouts. Sato was menacing, attacking early and often, seamlessly transitioning between an arsenal of submissions. Weathering the storm, Uno’s defence was iron tight, and, with his strong base and superior wrestling he started to wear the Shooto superstar down. Solid fundamentals and fantastic scrambles sealed Uno a 3rd round Rear Naked Choke and a place in history as he claimed the coveted title. A rematch the following year saw Uno prevail once again, this time catching Sato with a well placed hook as he returned to his feet.

Fast forward about 20 years and “Shoten” now faces one of Sato’s brightest students, Taison Naito. Fighting out of Sato’s Roots gym, Naito represents the next generation of fighters following in his mentors footsteps. A Full Contact Karate background defines the 8th ranked Featherweight’s aggressive striking. Never taking a backward step the Karateka engages in combinations at a close range, giving opponents little room to breath. A well rounded striker adept with hands, feet, knees and elbows,  Naito prefers to finish fights on the feet. On the ground he cannot be underestimated, given the submission mastery of his coach, Rumina Sato. Early this year Naito fell short on his bid for the Pacific Rim Featherweight title, losing by Rear naked Choke to defending champion Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu in a courageous performance. Looking to get back into the win column and redeem his instructors losses, Naito will come out firing on all cylinders come fight night.

Kaoru Uno returns to the Shooto cage after a 1 and a half year absence. His last opponent, Marcus Held, fell prey to the submission wrestlers signature “no hooks” Rear Naked Choke in the 2nd round. A competent striker, Uno excels in the clinch and on the mat. With some of the best footwork in the game he is always in position to execute a bodylock takedown with perfect leverage. Once the fight inevitably hits the mat “Shoten” prefers to glide and float over his opponent, ready to capitalise on the slightest opening. With his chain wrestling, top class scrambles and  an extensive array of submissions, Uno is dominant from the top and relies heavily on his refined and deadly Rear Naked Choke. With an opponent that also sets a frenetic pace, Uno will have no problems keeping up, he is generally as fresh in the final round as the first. The tone will be set quick, both fighters will waste no time in engaging, Naito executing combinations on the feet as Uno seeks the takedown. This highly anticipated match up will see both warriors fight to their strengths with neither willing to back down!


Consummate Finishers from Different Era’s Collide

At just 18 years old Yamato Nishikawa already has the experience and maturity of a seasoned professional. Trained by his father at Nishikawa Dojo, the prodigy was thrown into the fight game at an early age and has grown into a deceptively formidable fighter. With 21 fights to his name in MMA alone, the Power of Dream Sapporo warrior is unwavering in the cage, emerging undefeated in his last 8 bouts. Most recently the youngster showed a mature game, out grappling the hulking wrestler Mark “Max the Body” Moleke en route to a TKO stoppage. Known for his technical prowess, heart and fearless aggression Nishikawa possesses some serious firepower. His opponent, however, is one of the divisions hardest hitters.

Prolific knock out artist Nobumitsu “Tyson” Osawa is single minded in his approach to fighting. He stalks his opponent from the opening bell, relentlessly pursuing the knock out at every opportunity. The deadly striker has dynamite in his fists and impeccable timing, laying opponents out with one perfectly executed counter. The most recent fighter to fall prey to “Tyson’s” loaded left hook was Mark “Max the Body” Moleke who came crashing to the canvas midway through the opening round. While both fighters took out “Max the Body” with strikes the fashion they did so was quite different. Nishikawa forced the bigger, stronger, fighter to work, engaging in all facets of the MMA game he was able to keep Moleke uncomfortable before wearing him down and pounding him out from back mount.


Veteran Sniper Faces Undefeated New Blood Prospect

Utilizing superb distance control and mesmerizing footwork, Kiyotaka Shimizu catches opponents coming in with brutal 1 strike finishes. A perennial top ranker throughout his career, the slick Tribe Tokyo sniper enters at no2. Virtually impossible to put away, Shimizu can fall short on the score cards, his last outing against Tatsuro Taira being a perfect example. Unable to land clean Shimizu spent a lot of the bout on his back foot as Taira out hustled him. Losing is not something that happens often to Shimizu, however, and neither is going the distance, the counter striker has a habit of laying opponents out on the canvas. Drawing on his 41 fight experience Shimizu will have his traps set and fists locked and loaded as he looks to hand his upstart challenger his first loss.

25th All Japan Shooto Amateur Champion, 8th ranked Yuto Uda has remained undefeated as a pro, putting together a 4-0-1 record with 3 stoppages. Bolstering his processional fighting experience with an impressive 12-1 amateur record, Uda has not lost a bout since he first stepped on the mat. In his last performance against veteran Yuichi Miyagi, he displayed with poise and maturity. Leaning on his wrestling he scored a unanimous decision victory on the scorecards. In Shimizu, the Hope MMA Dojo member faces another step up in competition, with the cards stacked against him he will be fired up to cause an upset. If he surpasses his elite level opponent, the sky is the limit for Uda as he will rocket up the rankings


Grappling vs. Striking War to Stay Afloat in Deep Bantamweight Division

Kenji Kato pits his fearsome striking against the diverse submission proficiency of Kaito Sakamaki. Fighting out of the aptly named K.O. SHOOTO GYM, Kato blitzes opponents, finishing 7 of his 11 wins with strikes. Kato may have lost in his last outing but gave a good account of himself, pushing top ranker Nobuki Fujii the distance.

Kaito Sakamaki is a product of Paraestra Kashiwa and has an acute understanding of the ground game. Constantly fishing for a submission, the versatile grappling wizard has notched a variety of joint locks and chokes for the tap. An eye injury cost him his last fight against Hiroki Yamashita, putting Sakamaki on a 3 fight skid and in much need of a win.  Like his opponent, Sakamaki takes opponents out while conversely being tenacious and hard to put away. It will be a grappling vs striking showcase with neither combatant content with going the distance.


Pressure Mounts as the Infinity League Tournament Reaches Boiling Point

Shooto’s Infinity League Tournament Continues with 2 pivotal matches that will be vital in determining the champion of the “round robin” tournament. The annual competition and is a great barometer for determining future stars and champions. Implementing a unique scoring system for the 2 x 5 minute bouts, 4 points are awarded for a first round finish, 3 points for 2nd , 2 for decision victory and 1 for a draw. All the competitors face off against each other and the fighter with the most points is crowned the champion.

Current leader Hayato Ishii sits with 7 points going into his final match. At 4 points each, Yasayuki Nojiri and Kota Onojima are both within striking distance but a finish is essential to have any hope of prying the tournament from Ishii’s grip. In a twist of fate, Ishii clashes with Nojiri for their final match! In the additional contest Onojima and fellow participant Takahiro Ichijo will hunting points.

Fighting out of A-Spirit gym with an undefeated 5-0-1 record, every one of Yasayuki Nojiri’s wins has come by way of stoppage. Tribe Tokyo MMA’s Hayato Ishii has no shortage of finishes on his 16-3-2 resume. Both fighters are coming off strong performances. Nojiri scored a late Rear Naked Choke at 4:37 on the 2nd stanza against Takahiro Ichijo. While current leader Ishii claimed victory over Yoshizumi Kobayashi by way of Armbar at 4:20 of the opening round. Expect fireworks as both throw caution to the wind in search of a crucial stoppage.

Kota Onojima is about as tough and durable as a fighter gets. Sporting a 12-5-3 record the Combat Workout Diamond grinder has taken formidable fighters, ex-champions and top contenders, to the final bell, ultimately losing on the scorecards. The flip-side of his physical and stifling style is that he has a penchant for also going the distance in victory. With draws to Hayato Ishii and Yasayuki Nojiri in his last outings Onojima needs to make a big statement when the cage door closes. For Takahiro Ichijo, the Brave Heart gym warrior is frequently thrown to the lions but always comes to fight and is a capable finisher given the opportunity. Most recently he 7-10-1 fighter succumbed to a Yasayuki Nojiri Rear Naked Choke at 4:37 of the 2nd round. With nothing to lose, expect a courageous Ichijo to leave it all in the cage, notch up a huge win and prove he belongs.


4 Bouts Signal Continued Commitment to Women’s MMA

4th ranked Megumi Sugimoto saw a meteoric rise as she tore through the 2019 Infinity League Atom Weight Tournament. Finishing head and shoulders above the other competitors earned the AACC standout wrestler a spot in the Atom Weight tournament for the belt. In the finals she may have fell short, but delivered a spirited performance in an entertaining and competitive encounter with Champion Mina Kurobe. Last outing Sugimoto struggled to find her footing, rushed from the onset by Satomi Takano she fell victim to an armbar by the skilled grappler at 2:46 of the opening stanza. Squaring off against Mikiko Hiyama, Sugimoto will take a step down and look to rebound emphatically. Nagoya Fight Club’s Hiyama has had no shortage of high level experience, having fought the likes of Kanna Asakura twice. Yet to find a win in her turbulent professional career, Hiyama has her back against the wall facing the number 4 seed. Under the spotlight the underdog has a huge opportunity to leave a lasting impression, expect Hiyama to be at her very best.

Mars Gyms Miku Nakamura returns on the heels of a 2nd round submission loss to undefeated One Championship ace Itsuki Hirata. Nakamura had her moments in the fight, giving Hirata a run for her money as she let her hands go and defended takedowns. Defending her 6th position in the division, Nakamura faces the 2019 Infinity League tournament runner up Kyu Kitano. The Takadanobaba gym representative fought hard for the win last outing but had to settle for a draw against a resilient Yoki Hirada. Both ladies will be determined to get their hand raised this time around.

All eyes will be on hot prospect Chihiro Sawada as she makes her MMA debut. Fighting out of AACC gym, Chihiro is the brother of Shooto and One Championship title contender Ryuto Sawada and possesses an outstanding wrestling pedigree. With almost 10 years wrestling experience Sawada has regularly claimed medals in prestigious tournaments throughout Asia and Japan and placed 5th in Olympic trials. Opponent,  Yuki Ono should provide a stiff test for the wrestling phenom. The Groundslam Okinawa APP submission specialist cinched a 1st round Armbar over Mikiko Hiyama last outing and will be confident on the mat. With an amateur and professional loss to robust AACC Judoka Saori Oshima, Ono would love to get revenge and steal Sawada’s thunder.

Bringing the All Japan Amateur Championships to a conclusion, Alliance Gym member Norika Ryu tests her grappling skills against A-Spirit`s Momoko Hoshuyama. This match should be an evenly contested chess match on the ground as both technicians aim for the submission.


Return of Satoru Sayama to Shooto Heralds New Opportunities

Kicking off the event will be an amateur match up with historical significance. Sayama Dojo has sent All Japan Judo champion Yamato Hiranuma as a representative to face Master Japan Toyko’s Daisuke Murayama. Satoru Sayama has not been associated with Shooto for decades and a lot of eyes will be keenly observing this match up. Murayama is an All Japan Shooto Amateur runner up and has already earned a position as a professional. Hirunuma’s accolades in Judo should make this a fiercely competitive bout


Full Fight card

Main Event, Featherweight 5min x 3R

Taison Naito (Roots) vs. Kaoru Uno (UNO DOJO)


Co-Main Event, Lightweight 5min x 3R

Nobumitsu “Tyson” Osawa (Noda Bodybuilding Club) vs. Yamato Nishikawa (Nishikawa Dojo)


Flyweight 5min x 3R

Kiyotaka Shimizu (TRIBE TOKYO M.M.A.) vs. Yuto Uda (Mixed Martial Arts Dojo HOPE)


Bantamweight 5min x 3R

Kenji Kato (K.O.SHOOTO GYM) vs. Kaito Sakamaki (Paraestra Kashiwa)


Infinity League 2020 Bantamweight Tournament 5min x 2R

Itsuto Ishii (TRIBE TOKYO M.M.A.) vs. Sadayoshi Nojiri (Akasaki Dojo A-SPIRIT)


Infinity League 2020 Bantamweight Tournament 5min x 2R

Kota Onojima (CombatWorkoutDiamonds) vs. Takahiro Ichijo (Braveheart)


Women’s Super Atomweight 5min x 2R

Megumi Sugimoto (AACC) vs. Mikiko Hiyama (Nagoya Fight Club)


Women’s Super Atomweight 5min x 2R

Miku Nakamura (Mars Gym) vs. Kyu Kitano (Takadanobaba Dojo)


Women’s Super Atomweight 5min x 2R

Yuki Ono (Grand Slam Okinawa APP) vs. Chihiro Sawada (AACC)


Women’s Strawweight 5min x 2R

Momoko Hoshuyama (Akasaki Dojo A-SPIRIT) vs Norika Ryu (ALLIANCE)


Amateur Featherweight 3min x 2R

Daisuke Murayama (Master Japan Tokyo) vs Yamato Hiranuma (Sayama Dojo)








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

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