Shooto World Super Atomweight Championship Match, 5M x 5R
Satomi “Sarami” Takano defeated Mina Kurobe (Unanimous Decision, 49-45, 49-46, 48, 47)
Kurobe wasted little time in taking the fight to “Sarami” as the title fight kicked off. The champion stormed forward firing straight right and left hands. Crowding and pressuring “Sarami” to the fence, Kurobe was masterful with the underhook control. With body shots and knees in the clinch against the fence the Champion was methodical and calculated, racking up the volume. The challenger was unshakable and relaxed, defending the takedowns and answering with strong knees. Kurobe had the volume, however, it was the challenger firing the heavier shots, finding a home for elbows, punches and knees when they exchanged blow for blow on the feet. A back and forth 1st round set the tone for the fight.
Both fighters made it clear they were not giving up even an inch of ground. Kurobe ate left and right hooks at a distance but was strong in the clinch. Thrusting Takano into the cage the Masters Japan fighter rattled off short right uppercuts and hooks. Calm and collected, “Sarami” switched positions and delivered a knee to the head. As they traversed away from the cage the top ranked challenger turned up the volume with strikes, sending the champion back to the cage perimeter. Undeterred, Kurobe kept coming forward, blitzing 1-2s and left and right hooks. The challenger tried to take advantage of the champions aggression, connecting with knees and elbows as another fast paced round came to an end.
In the 3rd, Kurobe continued to manoeuvre her opponent to the cage when the opportunity arose. “Sarami” stuck to her own game, countering the “punch and push” tactics by tagging the champion at a distance and locking her hands around the neck in close. Kurobe peppered the body and head with punches as Takano maintained a strong neck grip to unleash knees and elbows. Rotating away from the fence “Sarami” dug a piercing front/ crescent kick to the body that slowed the champion and sent her reeling. With the challenger landing clean shots, Kurobe recuperated and let her own hands fly as another thrilling round concluded.
The war continued into the championship rounds. The challenger was effective on the outside, landing roundhouse kicks and halting the champions momentum with knees and front kicks. In the clinch the Pancrasism Yokohama fighter went straight to securing the neck while targeting the body with knees and head with elbows. Kurobe courageously walked through the blows and kept throwing, tagging Takano with straights. In close the champion went for underhook control and countered her opponents neck wrestling with punches to the open body and hooks to the head. Near the end of the round “Sarami” started to take over. Left and right hooks, elbows and front kicks before briefly taking the Champions back after tripping her to the canvas.
In what was turning out to be a grueling battle of attrition, Kurobe showed the heart of a champion, soldiering forward while maintaining a constant flow of punches. “Sarami” played matador, circling and cutting angles to land knees and elbows. When the warriors squared up the continued to exchange toe to toe with both finding their range. As the end of the fight drew near, the challenger once again took the champions back. Unable to pry her adversary off, Kurobe was briefly grounded. “Sarami” Disengaged and threw a high kick as Kurobe stood, narrowly missing the head. Fittingly, the final bell sounded as both were going back and forth with strikes in the center of the cage.
Both fighters fought tooth and nail in a war worthy of a main event. As the fight played out the momentum was behind the challenger, judges siding with Takano’s efficiency and accuracy over Kurobe’s volume and control. 3rd time was the charm for an emotional “Sarami” who picks up not just her first win over her rival but the coveted women’s Shooto Super Atomweight strap.
Shooto World Strawweight Interim Championship Match, 5M x 5R
Junji “Sarumaru” Ito defeated Ryohei ”Ken Asuka” Kurosawa (Submission, RnC, 3:23, R1)
“Sarumaru” took the initiative with some chopping leg kicks from the outside. Kurasawa soon found his range and timing with a straight left counter and proceeded to flurry with his signature firepower. Having set up the Paraestra Matsudo striker, “Sarumaru” ducked under the strikes to successfully score a body lock takedown against the cage. “Ken Asuka” blocked the top-ranked fighter’s attempts to pass and got to his feet. Jockeying for position against the cage, “Sarumaru’s” hustling skills came up trumps as he angled out for a single leg and set his opponent down again. Refusing to concede position Kurasawa showed his resolve, standing up he fired on all cylinders, blasting his nemesis with a straight right. Ito was content to exchange in the pocket and a firefight ensued. In the midst of the frenetic striking battle “Sarumaru” capitalized on another window for a double leg. This time the Shooto Gym Tokyo Flyweight pounded away on Kurosawa, progressing to mount and then back mount. The sequence was lightning fast and before Kurosawa could react, “Sarumaru” already had his left arm tight under the neck. Locking up the RnC, Ito tapped “Ken Asuka” in the opening stanza. The only person to finish the intimidating Kurasawa has now done it twice. In his 5th attempt the talented Ito’s work ethic finally paid off as the all-rounder get his first Shooto belt around his waist. A dream come true, “Sarumaru” will be eager to unify his Interim World Flyweight title when Hiroba Minowa returns from his One Championship title run.
Kenta Iwamoto defeated Daiki Yuki (Majority Decision, 20-18, 20-18, 19-19)
Renowned grappling superstar Kenta Iwamoto quickly found out that his match with 9th ranked Daiki Yuki would not be a walk in the park. Iwamoto fought hard to secure the takedowns he needed throughout the round. On the canvas Yuki was on point with defense and nullified the submission specialists attempts to progress. As the fight returned to the feet Iwamoto stuck to his guns and stubbornly chased the takedown. Punching his way into the clinch, the grappling master scooped Yuki’s legs out and sat him against the cage as time ran out.
In the final round Yuki was cautious as both fighters largely traded single shots. Iwamoto remained resolute on the single leg takedowns. Sitting the Masters Japan fighter against the cage Iwamoto could still not make any headway. Time and again Yuki countered to resume standing, yet could not muster much offense. Both talented grapplers largely negated each other, shutting each other down. Iwamoto was generally the aggressor and 2 of the 3 judges rewarded him with 2 x 10-9 rounds. In a gritty performance Iwamoto faced adversity and had to dig deep to pull through. It was not flashy but considering the level of opponent and that the Lotus Setagaya had only a single fights on his resume, the win was huge for Iwamoto, who now becomes a ranked fighter.
Infinity League Atomweight Tournament Bout.
Chihiro Sawada defeated Miku Nakamura (Majority Decision, 20-18, 20-18, 19-19)
The Women’s Infinity League Atomweight tournament officially gets underway with a highly anticipated grappler vs striker match up. From the onset both combatants implemented their games. Nakamura’s striking came into play at range, catching Sawada with straights and kicks as she worked her way inside. A decorated wrestling champion, Sawada was fearless in trading on the feet before alternating from singles to doubles to seamlessly chain takedowns. Dropping a weight class considerably improved Nakamura’s ability to get back to her feet and not be overpowered on her back. Marching forward elite wrestler Sawada was also clearly no slouch in the striking department, doing her best work with elbows in the clinch and hard kicks. A spectacular hip toss planted Nakamura on her back but Sawada could not lock down position and Nakamura clawed her way back to the feet to close a fiercely competitive round.
In the final stanza Sawada again pieced together beautiful throws, head and arm throws against the cage, single and double legs and a body lock takedown. The tenacious wrestling prodigy brought her full arsenal of MMA techniques into play, staying busy with hands and elbows in grappling range and locking up an arm in guillotine. Consistently taking the match back to her realm, Nakamura’s pinpoint right straight tagged the relentless wrestler while standing. Unable to find that fight changing strike, the Mars Gym fighter spent much of the match with her back against the fence on the defensive. A strong flurry of strikes by Sawada as time ran out was crucial to put a stamp on the round. 2 of the 3 judges awarded the AACC standout wrestler the match. With a draw in her debut, Sawada picks up her first win and cements her status as one of the Infinity League favorites. Nakamura should not lose heart in the loss, the “Northern Striker” carries the kind of fight changing power and killer instinct to earn finishes, which count for the most points under Infinity League rules.
Wataru Yamauchi defeated Yuki Takahashi (Majority Decision, 19-18, 19-18, 19-19)
The opening seconds of the first round saw “Submission” instantly propel himself across the cage, sliding into guard. Yamauchi stayed composed and broke away, landing brutal kicks as he stood over the wily grappler. Showcasing Imanari rolls and unorthodox entries, the leg lock technician kept fishing for an opportunity for the tap. Yamauchi was impressive at handling the sequential attacks as the Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts ace rolled and alternated between toe holds and inside and outside heel hooks. Grimacing at times, Fight Farm Gym’s Yamauchi answered with heavy punches to the head on the mat whenever possible. A modified Gogoplata highlighted “Submissions” flexibility and versatility but Yamauchi was mindful of his defense. A close round saw sharp contrast of styles play out. Takahashi was intent to submit with persistent, deadly, leg lock attacks. Yamauchi, on the other hand, delivered GnP from guard and kicks to his prone opponent.
In the 2nd round Yamauchi leapt out of his corner with a flying knee but his opponent saw it coming. Once again Takahashi pulled out the Imanari rolls, finding himself in his opponents guard. Yamauchi punished the grappler from the top, with elbows and fists he pounded away against the cage. “Submission,” uncharacteristically all but stopped moving. Not shifting to attack or targeting the legs the submission guru held on through the vicious ground and pound. As the fighters separated at the end of the round it appeared that “Submission” dislocated his shoulder during the fight. With 2 of the judges awarding 10-8 scores, Yamauchi was able to pull out another victory, advancing to 2-0. Hopefully Takahashi’s injury is not serious and the dynamic grappler is back in the cage sooner rather than later.
Taiga Iwasaki defeated Hiroyuki Shimizu (Submission, RnC, 3:14, R1)
Both fighters engaged in a feeling out process. Iwasaki fired loaded low and mid kicks as southpaw Shimizu utilized his jab and lead hook. After buckling his foe with a kick Iwasaki piled on the pressure, rattling off punches to drive the debuting Shimizu to the fence. Capitalizing on the opening, the Daido Juku/ Paraestra Soka Dojo finisher took the fight to the ground. Transitioning from side to mount to back, Iwasaki went palm to palm on the RnC for the tap at 3:14 of the opening round. With the victory Iwasaki improves his record to a perfect 5-0 with 4 finishes.