VTJ 2021 Results. Vale Tudo Japan Returns Following a 5 Year Hiatus!

Tatsuro Taira defeated Alfredo “Mono Con Navaja” Muaiad (Submission, RnC, 4:10, R1)

Shooto Flyweight Champion Taira once again put his formidable power on display early as he faced Chilean Champion Muaiad. Despite not connecting clean, Taira was able to unbalance his opponent on multiple occasions, dropping him to a knee and forcing a hand down for balance. Unintimidated, the Chilean warrior clearly came to win. Closing the distance on the Paraestra Okinawa representative he scored with straight right hands and hard body shots. Ultimately the Shooto Champion proved too slick to be caught, bobbing weaving and angling out of danger. Taira’s firepower and continuous barrage of strikes were getting to Santiago Blackhouse gym’s Muaiad. A straight down the pipe found it’s mark, sending “Mono Con Navaja” to the canvas. As the Chilean Champion went for a leg the Shooto ace sprawled, rotated, and honed in on the neck. Cinching a tight RnC ,Taira was able to score another 1st round stoppage.

After another dominating performance Taira now owns an impressive 10-0 record with 8 finishes. The standout Shooto Champion expressed his desire to fight again at next weeks Shooto Okinawa event!


Akira Haraguchi defeated Kaoru “Shoten” Uno (Unanimous Decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

As expected from a Brave Gym fighter, Haraguchi was physically imposing with strong wrestling fundamentals. In the 1st he gave Uno no space to breathe, sticking to him like glue against the cage while defending the veteran’s reversal and Kimura attempts. With impressive strength and technique Haraguchi was able to clasp his hands around his foe and score double leg takedowns. In one instance hoisting the MMA legend into the air and slamming him to the canvas. Well rounded and experienced, Uno’s defense was on point. Although able to nullify Haraguchi’s positional progression “Shoten” was not able to get his own offense going until a reversal in the dying seconds of the round.

The 2nd round played out in a similar fashion as Haraguchi bull rushed his opponent to the cage fence. Shrugging off Uno’s Kimura grips, the powerhouse wrestler would use the opportunity to counter attack the legs. Switching expertly from single to double leg attempts Haraguchi’s ability to fold his adversaries legs together and sit him on the canvas was remarkable given Uno’s own wrestling proficiency. Fighting for every second of the round, Uno defended and stood but could not find the leverage to turn the tables. Finally taking top position “Shoten” was briefly caught in a triangle as time expired.

A frustrated “Shoten” Attempted to initiate his own takedown to kick-off the final round but was flattened by the more physical Brave Gym wrestler. Haraguchi clung to the back again as Uno went for the arm. Unfazed by the attacks, Haraguchi maneuvered to the back or locked the legs as soon as his experienced opponent tried to “square up.” As the round progressed constantly fending off takedowns and clinches was wearing on Uno. Combined with a desire to mount his own offense Uno left a few holes in his normally air tight defense and Haraguchi capitalised, securing a figure four lock from the back he attacked with RnCs. Uno escaped but was caught in a flurry of punches as the round closed.

It was a spirited effort from Uno, the Japanese MMA pioneer showing once again that he is a tough test for any fighter. 20 years younger, Haraguchi appeared to stylistically have “Shoten’s” number, winning a clear cut decision over one of Japan’s biggest names in MMA.


Yamato Nishikawa defeated Kazumasa “Bunta” Sugawara (Submission, RnC, 3:40, R1)

Nishikawa entered VTJ for his first fight after sensationally capturing the Shooto Lightweight belt in a career highlight performance. Forever the underdog, the 19 year old flies in the face of expectations. His age belies a composed maturity and outstanding fight IQ. Physically he looks like he could comfortably cut divisions and often weighs in below the limit. His youthful exterior is a facade to a fearsome competitor with Shootboxing, Thai and Kickboxing bouts in addition to an incredible 23 professional MMA fights. A Karate background, Nishikawa is well versed in all facets of MMA with an outstanding ground game.

The Fighting prodigy squared off against Masters Japan’s Sugawara, testing the waters with a low kick before hitting an Imanari roll to tie up the legs. “Bunta” shut down the attempt with textbook defense and hammered down some ferocious ground and pound. As Sugawara let loose with strikes, Nishikawa cut a corner to get leverage on a single. Momentarily, Sugawara hit the canvas and popped back up with his tenacious foe stuck to his back. Literally climbing up the back, the 19 year old phenom seized another RnC victory at 3:40 of the round. 

Sporting a huge hematoma on his eye, Nishikawa used the mic opportunity to appeal to Shinya Aoki for an MMA match. The match started sooner than expected as Aoki sprinted across the cage, landing an elbow on the Shooto Lightweight Champion before being restrained. The stage set, hopefully the match comes to fruition and we get to see part 2 sooner than later!


Shoko “Masamitsu” Sato defeated Yasuhiro Kawamura (TKO, GnP, 2;38, R1)

Kawamura found his mark early with a crisp jab to the chin of the advancing Sato. A telegraphed shot by the Wajutsu Keishukai fighter, in hindsight, turned out to be poor decision making. “Masamitsu” flattened Kawamura out and started to work, shifting from side to back as his opponent turtled and tried to stand. Former Shooto Bantamweight Champion Sato has a scary reputation for causing damage while constricting opponents with grappling control. Wracking up elbows, and long, accurate punches from his figure of 4 lock, every Sato strike had intent to finish. Kawamura desperately tried to change positions but Sato would always find the most advantageous angles and leverage for strikes while maintaining the hold. Kawamura was clearly fading under the calculated,  brutal strikes of the Sakaguchi Dojo standout until the referee mercifully stepped in at 2:38 of the opening stanza. It was a clinical performance from Sato, returning to Shooto from One Championship with sights set on reclaiming the Bantamweight throne.


Kota Okazawa vs Shin Haraguchi  (No Contest, Butting of Heads, 2:23, R1)

As the bout got underway, Okazawa traded with the heavy handed Haraguchi. Driven back to the fence by a Haraguchi right hand the Sayama Dojo fighter attempted to take the match to the ground where presumably he would have the upper hand. Sprawling effectively Haraguchi stood and threw the legs of his grounded opponent aside to drop down punches with full body weight. The referee issued a stand up and Okazawa turned to “plan B” and fearlessly threw down. Jab, body shot and lefts and rights from Okazawa were traded with short 1-2’s from Haraguchi. In the midst of the furious exchange, Brave Gym’s Haraguchi ducked a blow and, as he came back up, his head caught Okazawa under the chin. Out and on his way down Haraguchi unleashed a right hook that left Okazawa unconscious on the canvas for some time. Initially deemed a TKO win at 2:23 of the opening round, a referee review of the footage determined the result a NC due to “accidental head butting.”


Patrick Sho Usami defeated Shunta Nomura (Unanimous Decision, 20-18, 20-17, 20-17)

The opening bout of the event got off to a competitive start. Nomura tallied up short hooks, right straights and elbows, opening a gash above Usami’s eye. The larger, more physical Usami picked his shots at a distance, right straights and low kicks before clinching up and bulldozing his opponent to the cage fence. As the round played out Usami folded Nomura, stopping him in his tracks, with shots to the body. In visible pain, Nomura was in survival mode as the LDH Martial Arts gym representative uncorked blow after blow to the body. As his hurt opponent dropped to his back Usami offered no respite as he pounded to the body and head before separating and forcing a stand up. From the Thal Plum Usami dug into the body with knees and chipped away at the head with elbows, eventually putting Nomura down again with a front kick.

In the 2nd round the dominance increased. A game Nomura went for broke with spinning back fists and punches. Connecting with 1-2 combinations the Brave Gym fighter did not have the same starch on his attacks to deter Usami. Utilizing his full toolbox of techniques, Usami combined knees, kicks and straights until the boxer finally scored a knockdown with a left hook. Back on the feet, a straight right rocked Nomura, securing an opening for an easy double leg. With 30 seconds left Usami rode out the round with ground and pound from the top. 

With a comfortable win, and 2 x 10-8 scores in the 2nd round, Usami improved his record to 2-0. Emerging from Abema.TV’s “Fighting Dreamers” reality program, tournament winner Usami already had quite a following entering his professional MMA career. While he could not get this finish this outing the charismatic prospect is on the right path to becoming one of Shooto’s top rankers.



About the Author

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

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