All eyes will be on the Flyweights Monday evening as 2 unbreakable spirits collide for the Shooto 2022 Volume 6 main event. Korakuen Hall, the mecca for fighting sports in Japan, will once again be packed as the action keeps fans on the edge of their seats. In the co-main MMA’s youngest champion, a fighting prodigy, continues to make waves at a heavier weight class. As is custom, top rankers lock horns in pivotal battles to see who stays afloat in Shooto’s Unforgiving divisions. Elsewhere hungry veterans and debutantes look to carve out a career and move up the ladder. Maintaining their commitment to women’s MMA, Shooto continues to bolster their divisions with a welcomed addition at flyweight. Furthermore, the Women’s Infinity League Atomweight tournament nears a conclusion with an unexpected twist.
The 10 bout card can be seen live on Abema TV app, Monday 19th at 18:00. Guest commentary is provided by Women’s Atomweight Champion Satomi “Sarami” Takano and Hiroba Minowa, who recently vacated the Strawweight belt to continue to compete at One Championship.
Strawweight Champion Junji “Sarumaru” Ito had long been the perennial top contender, ascending the ranks to consistently vie for the title. 4 times the Shooto Gym Tokyo representative clawed his way to the pinnacle of the division, only to fall short at the final hurdle. Seeing his dream constantly go up in flames spurred “Sarumaru” on until, a decade after first contending for the title, the workhorse pulled through in emphatic fashion. In his 5th attempt, “Sarumaru” captured the coveted Shooto Flyweight belt with a blistering Rear Naked Choke over nemesis Ryohei “Ken Asuka” Kurosawa. A gritty hustler with unwavering resolve, Ito puts opponents under tremendous pressure with a combination of destructive hands and vigorous grappling. After an arduous 10 year voyage to the title, “Sarumaru” will not be prepared to relinquish his title. The champion will be at his very best aiming for nothing short of a stoppage in his first defence!
Jo Arai has similarly not had an easy path to the title, fighting tooth and nail to reach the summit of Shooto’s Flyweight division from an ignominious 9 fight slump. Arai embraced his “never give up” mentality to not only stack together 6 victories over the division’s best but do so with authority. Marching forward with indomitable spirit the striker has blitzed his way through the division, earning a title shot with a jaw dropping shellacking of striking specialist Ryohei “Ken Asuka” Kurosawa. The formidable Kingdom Tachikawa Colloseum heavy hitter has the kind of firepower that defies belief for his stature. Expect Arai to come out guns blazing as neither fighter takes a backwards step in what is sure to be an all out war!
Yamato Nishikawa has been nothing short of sensational as of late. The youngster seized the Shooto 155lb strap at just 18 years old to become the org’s, and almost certainly, MMA’s, youngest ever champion. Not a sizable LW, the fighting prodigy has been simultaneously taking on all comers at 170lbs, carving out a record breaking 9 fight win streak. Fighting for the 3rd time at WW this year, the seemingly unstoppable Nishikawa is riding the crest of the wave following back to back stoppages. A referee stoppage of Ji Un Choi followed a career high, an armbar victory over Sotaro Yamada, one of the worlds very best submission specialists. With technical acumen, heart and the mental fortitude of a seasoned pro, Nishikawa always finds a way to win.
Standing across from Nishikawa when the cage door closes will be battle tested veteran Shigeaki “Kusa Max” Kusayanagi. Competing under a variety of orgs, the all rounder has a wealth of experience in MMA and Kickboxing and a balanced MMA game. Suffering a 2nd round Rear Naked Choke loss last outing Kusayanagi relinquished his Heat LW strap to Yuki Okano and will be determined to bounce back. Making his Shooto debut, the Team Climb/ Grabaka Akabane fighter has the unenviable task of squaring off against the prodigy, Nishikawa in a Welterweight showcase bout.
Yuto Sekiguchi has strung together 4 wins, besting Yuichi Miyagi last outing in a contest to determine the Flyweight top contender. While well rounded in all areas of MMA, the Shooto Gym Tokyo fighter has shown a growing penchant for striking, sending opponents careering to the canvas with crushing hooks. With a wealth of experience fighting the cream of the crop in both MMA and Kickboxing to draw on, Sekiguchi can look to bait his younger adversary into a trap and switch his light off!
19 year old is a grappling phenom Takeru Uchida was scheduled to face Sekiguchi early this year. After choking out touted Australian prospect Shaun Etchel, Uchida is now undefeated in his last 5 outings with all 6 of his wins coming by way of submission. Astute on the mat and adept at a multitude of submissions, the Paraestra Matsudo grappling guru’s path to victory could not be clearer. A crucial battle for the division, expect both to ramp up the intensity in an attempt to enforce their style.
Fighting throughout his career anywhere from 125lbs and 145lbs, Joji Goto has fixed his sights on Shooto’s 135lb BW division. Sporting a shark tank of fighters, BW is regarded as the orgs deepest division, one in which the number 5 is poised to make a title run. Fighting out of Tribe Tokyo MMA, Goto defeated Daiki “Lightyear” Tsubota earlier this year before being side-lined by injury. A consummate finisher, the 5th ranker will be more than happy to fight fire with fire in the cage!
Joji Goto returns to face a dangerous foe in a well matched clash set to determine who stays afloat in the deep BW waters. With devastating striking Kenji Kato hails from the aptly titled “K.O Shooto Gym.” With 9 of his 12 wins coming by way of T/KO Kato is constantly refining his finishing instincts, becoming an ever more prolific finisher. Kato sent a message to the division as he left Daiki out cold on the canvas in the very first round. Expect fireworks in what could be the fight of the night.
Takeo Iida most recently scored a massive win, becoming the first to submit Dericott “Kento” Yamamoto with a shocking 1st round Rear Naked Choke. The victory secured Iida’s position as top contender in the Featherweight division. A product of the notoriously competitive amateur circuit, Iida turned heads when he notched finishes in every fight to win the All japan Amateur Shooto Championships. While without doubt well versed in all facets of MMA, the submission arsenal of the division’s number 1 is particularly dangerous, something to watch out for fight night!
Opponent, Akuri Ronda racked up an impressive 5-0 start to kick off a promising career. As the level of competition increased and the Shingukan MMA fighter soon found himself matched with the division’s top tier, resulting in 5 consecutive losses. Fiercely competitive and extremely physically and mentally strong, Ronda will be more focused than ever to revive his career after a crushing head kick loss to the surging Rinya Nakamura. To write Ronda off would be a mistake, when enforcing his game the tenacious, durable all rounder has all the tools to cause an upset!
A highly decorated boxer, with titles in 3 weight classes, Raika “Fujin” Emiko elected to test her hand at MMA and went about it the hard way. Venturing into the cage up to 5 times a year “Fujin” evolved and progressed, becoming a fully fledged Mixed Martial Artist and stern test for anyone in the division. The “face of women’s boxing” complements her dynamic, world class boxing with a potent clinch game to ensure success. Making her Shooto debut the 47 year old warrior continues her journey, hoping to right the ship after falling short on the scorecards in her last 2 outings.
Replacing kickboxing specialist So Yul Kim, who was unable to secure a VISA in time, will be Megumi Sugimoto. Despite stepping in at late notice and shifting up 2 weight classes, the 3rd ranked Super Atomweight has been constantly training in the gym and will be confident when the cage door closes. Sugimoto is a technically sound and athletic grappling specialist with powerful wrestling and dominant positional control. The AACC gym standouts ability was on full display last outing with a commanding victory over Haruka Hasegawa. With a grappling strong suit the late opponent switch may play to Sugimoto’s advantage, Emiko prepared for a Kickboxing stand out.
Hard nosed banger Tsubasa Saito takes on new blood talent, Having fought his entire professional career in Shooto, Saito has fought many of the very best. While falling short at the upper echelon of the BW div, the Tsudanuma Gym brawler has shown unbelievable durability. In a spirited performance against top ranked Fujii last outing, Saito held tough, fought out of dicey situations and caused a few scares for the elite BW technician. Expect Saito to drag his less experienced opponent into deep water early!
Making his Shooto pro debut, Soo Sung Cho rose to prominence on the Abema TV reality show “Fighting Dreamers.” Winning the All Japan Taekwondo championships on multiple occasions, the flashy striker found a home at Crazy Bee gym, where he has been working on his grappling and wrestling. Riding the momentum of an impressive victory over Mason Hide Usami, “Susung” is ready for his biggest challenge yet! His performance against Shooto veteran Saito will be a great barometer to gauge his potential in the division. It will be Taekwondo flair vs clubbing power as both throw down on the feet in a match not to be missed!
As the Infinity League Women’s Atomweight Tournament moves into the final stages, not all has gone according to plan. The withdrawal of Haruna Kato due to Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo resulted in opponent Chihiro Sawada being awarded 3 points in the tournament. The Infinity League Round Robin tournaments are all about how a fighter wins, with 4 points for a first round finish, 3 for 2nd, 2 for a decision victory and 1 for draw, fast finishes are the sure route to success.
In the lone Infinity League match, trailblazing KO Queen Hisae “Kuon” Watanabe squares off against savvy submission specialist Yuki Ono. Both will be looking to finish fast. Yuki Ono went the distance with Haruna Kato to earn a hard fought draw. With 1 point she will be eager to score a statement win over an MMA legend and work her way up the tournament ladder. Sitting at 4 points “Kuon” is chasing rival Sawada, who she most recently lost to, submitted in the 2nd round in a disappointing one sided bout. A first round finish for the heavy handed pioneer would rocket her right up into contention and she had the kind of firepower to pull it off. Slick grappler faces devastating striker in a high stakes tournament bout!
Asuka Tsubaki has been fed to the lions at times, facing fighters far above his ranking. In Keiichiro Kudo, Tsubaki has a chance to show his full potential in what should be an evenly contested bout. Fighting out of Trident Gym, Tsubaki steps into the cage fresh off a decision victory over Tatsuma Okada. A heavy hitter coming out of Grandslam Okinawa APP, Kudo has dynamite in his hands, starching his last 2 opponents with brutal 1st round knockouts. Tsubaki has experience at the top level to lean on as he tries not to get into slugging it out on the feet with the explosive Kudo.
Getting the action underway the 2022 Rookie of the Year will be determined as EXFights Kodai Sudo confronts Tatoru BJJ Kumamoto fighter Atsushi “Akkun Bomber” Otani.