Shooto 2021 Vol5, Sunday 25th. Sasuke vs Kudo Featherweight Title Match!

Shooto is back, and the World Featherweight Title is on the line at 2021 Volume 5. With Korakuen Hall once again playing host, the sensational 8 bout event kicks off at 17:15 JST and is not to be missed!

MMA in Japan has been flourishing as of late, in part due to Abema.TV reality shows like “Fighter Battle Edition” and “Fighting Dreamers.” With Hiroyuki “Bancho” Takaya overseeing the show, winners are given the chance to debut professionally in Shooto.

Volume 5 sees newcomers debut against established veterans. In a gym vs gym theme, tough fighters from Takaya’s “Tsudanuma Dojo” and “Fight Farm” square off against strong grapplers from “Masters Japan.” For Co-main event, an opportunity to vie for the Women’s Super Atomweight Shooto Title is on the line. The show cumulates in Shooto Featherweight Title Match as warriors compete for the belt vacated by Yutaka Saito.

Main Event: Shooto Featherweight Title Match, 5M x 5R
Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu vs. Ryoji Kudo

“I have to be a player that exceeds everyone’s expectations and imagination.” Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu

“Sasuke” successfully claimed, then defended the Shooto Pacific Rim Featherweight strap, both in sensational fashion. Now, he finally gets his shot at the Shooto Featherweight belt, vacated by Yutaka Saito. Sasu is riding a wave of momentum. On the heels of 2 stoppages, the Masters Japan Tokyo representative has improved fight after fight and has looked unstoppable as of late. Once regarded as a stifling top control grappler, the Judoka has expanded his arsenal, evolving into a fearsome striker who can Knock opponents out or break them down and finish with a choke. In his Pacific Rim Featherweight defense he chipped away at Taison Naito, grinding the durable challenger down before sealing the deal with a Rear Naked Choke. With the Shooto World Featherweight Title within reach, expect and even bigger statement from the Pacific Rim Champion when the cage door closes.

“I have an unspoken shooto love. That feeling is stronger than his.” Ryoji Kudo

Boasting a 10-1-1, Kudo has torn through his last 7 opponents to earn his place at the top of the division. Most recently, the Tribe Tokyo MMA fighter took Derricott Yamamoto out with strikes in the opening stanza, avenging his 2018 decision loss. Ranked at number 7, the deadly fighter is riding 3 consecutive stoppages and relishes the opportunity to contest for the Shooto World title. Stoic, calm yet destructive, the “Cold Fighting Cyborg” goes with the flow to achieve the KO, not letting emotion enter the equation. Feared for his striking, Kudo actually possesses a wrestling background and comparisons with his opponent have been observed. The confident Kudo believes his grappling, striking, and love for Shooto will bring him the belt fight night.

While both fighters share common ground in their styles the elements that separate them are the keys to victory. Kudo is a fast starter, competing at the same pace until the chance for victory presents itself. For Sasuke, 5 rounds are his friend, typically he grows as the fight moves to the later rounds. Pace and rhythm will play a vital part and the first fighter to slip up could pay a heavy price. With the makings of a classic encounter, the emotional, explosive power of “Sasuke” clashes with the composed, clinical approach of Kudo.

Co-Main Event: Women’s Super Atomweight Title Contender Match, 5M x 3R
Satomi “Sarami” Takano vs. Miku Nakamura

A veteran of the Women’s MMA and grappling circuit, Satomi “Sarami” Takano is a superb grappler who is constantly progressing. The number 2 ranked fighter has a reputation for taking out big names. Last outing the Pancrasism grappler’s tapped out Infinity League Champion, former title challenger, and top contender Megumi Sugimoto. Giving opponents no room to maneuver “Sarami” steers her adversaries to the cage fence where she drags them to the canvas and entangles them in her signature armbar. With 2 losses to current champion Mina Kurobe, the path to vengeance starts with a victory this coming Sunday!

In a division known for strong grapplers Miku Nakamura is widely regarded as one of the most formidable strikers. The 4th ranked Super Atomweight was last seen blasting Kyu Kitano. Jarring the durable fighters head back on multiple occasions with swift, accurate and destructive punches. Kitano was on rubbery legs, prompting her corner to mercifully throw in the towel. More than just a puncher, the Mars gym stand out is well-versed in all aspects of the sport. Owning a rare “Ninja Choke” submission victory, in the grappling department Nakamura also brings solid takedown defense, technical throws and strong positional knowledge. Unquestionably Nakamura will be sniping for the highlight reel KO finish, taking one step closer to the title.

This bout is not just a contrast of fight styles but also personalities. “Sarami” is known for her “trash talking,” getting fired up before bouts. On the other hand, Nakamura let’s her fists do the talking. It is almost a certainly that “Sarami” will go straight for the clinch in order to work her magic on the ground. Nakamura is the more well-rounded fighter however, and if she can avoid being dragged into Sarami’s world she has an excellent chance of victory on the feet.

6th Match: Bantamweight, 5M x 2R
Rinya Nakamura vs Akuri Ronda

With 13 years worth of Freestyle Wrestling accolades under his belt, Rinya Nakamura made quite an impact on the Abema.TV MMA reality show “Dreamers.” In the event finals the Wrestler fighting out of LDH Martial Arts made his promotional debut, wasting little time in dismantling the tough Takumi Arai with strikes in just 42 seconds. Nakamura’s Shooto roots run deep. His father, the late Kozo Nakamura, was involved in the progress and development of Shooto behind the scenes in the 90s, the dawn of the sport. Nakamura carries a lot of weight on his shoulders as he steps up to the challenge and enters the Shooto cage for the first time.

The decorated Wrestler will have a stern test in his Shooto debut as he locks horns with the rugged Akuri Ronda. Fighting out of Shingikan MMA gym, Ronda is on a 4 fight slide, all be it against elite level competition. He has tussled with current Bantamweight champion Ryo Okada, and, most recently put on a spirited performance against ex-champion Keita Ishibashi. He was at one point riding a 5 fight unbeaten streak and is experienced, well-rounded, skilled and extremely durable. Ronda will be fighting to turn the tide and revive his career, and to simultaneously derail the hype train.

Ronda provides the perfect proving ground for potential breakout star Nakamura. While the spotlight will be on Nakamura for his highly anticipated Shooto debut, Ronda cannot be written off. This bout will serve as a good benchmark for gauging Nakamura’s potential as a hot prospect.

5th Match: Lightweight 5M x 2R
Yuta “Edmond” Kaneko vs Kota Okazawa

29 fight veteran, the highly experienced Kota Okazawa makes a comeback to MMA after a 3 year hiatus. Having competed for a host of organizations and a variety of Martial Arts styles, Okazawa has tried his hand at grappling and striking to complement his MMA. Most recently he earned his BJJ Black belt after competing extensively in Gi and No-Gi competition. Now training out of Sayama Dojo, his striking and overall MMA game will be something to keep an eye on. Departing from MMA following a loss to Sho Kogane, Okazawa will be ready to showcase his new skills and pick up a big win under the Sayama Dojo Banner.

Also returning to Shooto after taking time off on multiple occasions, Yuta “Edmond” Kaneko similarly comes back to MMA as a bit of an “unknown quantity.” The 2nd degree Black Belt in Judo additionally achieved a BJJ Black Belt, making him a serious threat when it comes to submission grappling. Strong in the clinch, the Brave gym fighter is relentless, keeping his approach simple and strong. One thing “Edmond” does have a tendency towards is getting caught up in blow for blow brawls, which generally play out in his favor. With his opponent having a similar level of grappling prowess “Edmond” may test the waters on his feet striking.

As both fighters are making a return to competition, what they have learnt on their journeys away from the sport remains relatively unknown. We many see completely different fighters from previous matches. This alone makes this fight very intriguing, and we may see a revitalised top contender emerge.

4th Match: Featherweight, 5m x 2R
Takashi Nakayama vs. Daiki Yuki

After claiming title Pacific Rim Featherweight Title holder from Mitsuhiro Toma, Tsudanuma’s master grappler Takashi Nakayama collided with Keisuke “Sasuke” Sasu. Sasu was on top of his game, fighting at his best. After a flying knee grazed Nakayama, a follow up punch and ground and pound took him out. A specialist in grappling and choke submissions, Nakayama is focused, tenacious and unwavering in approach. When fighting his fight Nakayama is a challenge for anyone in the division. The Tsudanuma Dojo grappling standout needs a win, to put his loss to “Sasuke” behind him and start his ascent back to the top.

Nakayama’s opponent, Daiki Yuki, is another Masters Japan gym grappling specialist. Stringing together a 7 fight highly respected undefeated streak Yuki relies heavily on his Judo background. His takedown proficiency paves the way for Yuki to get his Masters Japan grappling acumen working. Submission savvy, the grappler shines in similar areas as his opponent. Yuki has not faced the kind of competition as Nakayama and is facing a big step up in competition. Yuki will be confident on the mat with Nakayama and fans should be in for a grappling extravaganza.

3rd match: Bantamweight 5M x 2R
Tsubasa Saito vs. Shohei Nose

Very much a product of Tsudanuma Dojo/ Fight Farm, Tsubasa Saito exemplifies the “Tsudanuma Dojo” style. Tough as nails, if knocked down or thrown down, Saito stands right back up. If threatened by submission he endures. Saito will not quit, not admit defeat and is definitely not afraid of a firefight. The gritty brawler will throw down with whoever is prepared to take him on. Saito has faltered facing the divisions best but remained competitive in holding on until the final bell. In his last match, he out pointed Takumi Arai to pick up a decisive win. With core strength, Saito’s clubbing hooks and takedown defense will be on display as he looks for a finish and consecutive wins.

As an Amateur, Nose boasted an unblemished 8-0 record. He kept the ball rolling into his pro career, sporting an impressive 4-0-2 record. The Masters Japan Fukuoka Judoka has stumbled since then, facing back to back losses. Most recently he fought a very competitive bout with prospect Hikaru Yoshino ultimately falling on the wrong side of a split decision. Nose has since dropped down to the Bantamweight division for clean slate and fresh start. In a similar vein as his mentor, Masters Japan coach Kuniyoshi Hironaka, Nose has quick takedowns and excels at “Newaza” groundwork. His opponent, Saito is notoriously difficult to put away but has shown that he can be controlled, something Nose is accomplished at.

2nd match: Flyweight, 5M x 2R
Wataru Yamauchi vs. Arata “Reiwa” Ueki

One of many fighters emerging from the highly successful “Fighting Dreamers”, Kyokushin Karate expert Wataru Yamauchi makes his pro debut. Fighting out of Fight Farm, Yamauchi weathered the storm in the finals of “Fighting Dreamers” to stage a come from behind victory. Putting himself on the radar, Yamauchi is intent on making a lasting impression in his debut.

Yamauchi draws Arata “Reiwa” Ueki as an opponent. At 8-7-1 Ueki has had a rocky career, facing adversity and experiencing the highs and lows. Seemingly hitting his stride, “Reiwa” chained together a 4 fight unbeaten streak before suffering a TKO loss last outing. The Shooting Uruno Dojo member will be motivated to bounce back from the loss.

Opening Match: Try Out Rules, Featherweight, 3M x 2R
Soo Sung Cho vs Daisuke Murayama

Heralded by the late Kid Yamamoto as a future prospect during the 2017 Abema.TV “Fighter Battle Audition” reality TV show, Soo Sung Cho impressed with his Taekwondo striking. Emerging from the show with interest piqued and expectations high, Cho never found his rhythm. With a win and a loss, both by split decision in the Kanto Amateur Shooto Championships, it was back to the drawing board for the rookie. Spending 3 years diligently rounding out his fight game, Cho returned to action, living up to the hype with a 28 second knock out at TTF Challenge 8. Sidelined by injury, the dynamic striker finally makes his Shooto debut with high hopes that this time all goes as planned

The “Iron Man” of Amateur Shooto, Daisuke Murayama is well known for his stubborn refusal to go professional, opting to conquer another All Japan Amateur Championship title this year. Just 2 months ago, Murayama welcomed All Japan Judo champion, physical specimen Yamato Hiranuma to the cage, falling short on the scorecards. All things considered the Masters Japan Tokyo grappler performed beyond expectations in the bout, demonstrating his skill, experience, and fortitude. He now faces another highly hyped newcomer and will be gunning for an upset.

About the Author

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

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