Main Event – Match 9: Featherweight, 5 min 3
Takuya Yamamoto defeated Dericott Kento Yamamoto by KO, 0:27 R2
To the delight of fans the highly anticipated firefight kicked off from the opening bell and did not let up. Takuya led the dance, unloading volleys of heavy leather. On the back foot Dericott did not shy away from planting his feet and answering blow for blow in the pocket. The sheer explosive power of Takaya broke through in the striking and grappling. The former Grachan double champion was able to frequently seize the back in the wrestling exchanges and take the Shooto veteran for a high altitude ride. In another furious exchange a thunderous left hook found the mark late in the round sending Dericott careering to the ground. Some unanswered ground and pound sealed a statement 1st round for the newcomer.
As the fighters entered the 2nd frame, Dericott was determined to gain lost ground. With unwavering resolve the MMA Dojo Cobra Kai all-rounder threw caution to the wind, letting go with a flurry of punches. Absorbing a flying knee Takuya uncorked looping left and right hooks with ill intent. The loaded bombs landed flush and Dericott tasted the canvas once again. This time there would be no respite as the Paraestra Chiba powerhouse teed off with an onslaught of ground and pound for the stoppage.
With the victory the soft spoken family man flew into the rankings and will no doubt be a top pick for future Featherweight title contender!
Semi-final – Match 8: 63kg Catchweight, 5 min 3R
Loibe de Oliveira Neto defeated Kenji “Enshu Bouncer” Kato by TKO, 4:37, R2
With a formidable reputation, Shooto newcomer Neto carried a sizeable physical advantage over ranked competitor Kato. Both fighters entered the bout aggressive, seeking to establish distance and set up their striking arsenal. Kato played matador, utilizing stance shifts, angles and engaging in barrages of lightning fast strikes. “Enshu Bouncer” peppered the heavily muscled Neto with lead hooks, straights and intermittent high kicks from the southpaw stance. Slick with his head movement, the savvy K.O Shooto Gym fighter played with fire, evading just out of range before returning heavy shots. Fighting out of Evolucao Thai Neto was less refined with his striking but carried dynamite in every blow. Looking to smother and catch Kato on the retreat, the deadly K.O hunter came close with knees from the Thai clinch. Even blocked, Kato was sent tumbling with the impact. A late straight hand from Neto sat Kato on the canvas as the Brazilian called him up to resume and enthralling striking contest.
Kato came out unfazed in the 2nd round, resuming his strategy of continuous attack with a straight left off the bat. Neto bullied his adversary to the cage and unleashed a brutal elbow on the break. Lefts, rights and uppercuts from Kato who tried to bait the larger Neto into moving into a left high kick. Not simply a brawler, Neto was wise to the set ups and defended well. As the fight progressed it was becoming clear that Kato was finding it nigh impossible to damage his larger foe. In contrast, everything landed by Neto had the smaller Japanese competitor in trouble. Outgunned Kato did not back down to the heavy artillery of Neto, which, ultimately led to his demise. Finding a picture perfect straight right, Neto found the shot he was seeking and Kato folded to the ground. The Shooto warrior tried to hold on and defend but the hammering punches and elbows raining down from his opponent were substantial, prompting the referee to call the fight.
Taking a fight at 139lbs it is uncertain if Neto will be moving to Bantamweight or forging a future at Featherweight, his regular weight class. A natural Bantamweight Kato was dwarfed by the Brazilian, who will be a huge threat regardless of the weight class. A highly entertaining fighter who is definitely one to keep an eye on!
Match 7: Bantamweight, 5 min 3R
Shoji Saito defeated Yasuhiri Nojiri by KO, 4:23, R1
In what was considered a big step up in competition, “Fighting Dreamer” standout Saito met ranked opponent Nojiri. The more well versed stylist, Nojiri delivered a solid blend of clinch work, high crotch takedowns and strikes to keep the Fight Farm Kickboxer on his toes. It was not smooth sailing however, as he shot from a distance Nojiri got tagged clean by a blistering Saito right hand. After crashing to the canvas, instincts and experience kicked in for the veteran who staved off the ground and pound and clawed his way back into the fight. Smelling blood Saito continued to pile on the pressure as the wily Nojiri clinched and slowed the tempo. Eagerness to get into grappling range came back to haunt the Akasaka Dojo A-Spirit fighter as Saito again timed an uppercut with pin point accuracy. Driving in from a distance the 8th ranked Nojiri took the full brunt of the impact, falling face first to the mat. The referee mercifully stopped the fight before further unnecessarily follow up punches landed.
Match 6: Women’s Super Atomweight, 5 min 3R
Ayaka Watanabe Defeated Mina Kurobe by KO, Uppercut to GnP, 2:27, R2
Known for overwhelming opponents Kurobe set a frenetic pace from the get-go. Fearlessly marching forward she pressured Watanabe, looking to wear down and drown another opponent in the deep waters of the later rounds. Shifting stance and throwing sharp 1-2s the Masters Japan standout found success, keeping Watanabe on the end of a volley of punches. Fighting out of AACC, a gym renowned for female fighters, Watanabe came with a plan and executed it beautifully. Hitting hard low calf kicks on the outside Watanabe evaded and angled, throwing power lead hooks as she glided out of range. In the clinch the Judoka shut down attempts to grapple and adeptly disengaged. Sniping with on-point punches the newcomer stunned Kurobe with a perfectly timed spinning backfist. The low kicks were now stacking up for Watanabe, who was not afraid to absorb damage and walk through fire to slam them home. Kurobe limped back to her corner at the end of the round, victim of brutal calf kicks.
Unyielding and with a strong fighting spirit Kurobe turned up the heat, walking her foe down from the onset of the round. Her efforts to close the distance were met with an ever increasing volume of meticulously selected and timed strikes. Battered and bruised the former Super Atomweight Champion was unbreakable, refusing to take a backward step. Knowing that victory lay in the grappling, Kurobe soldiered on, head down, rattling off left and right straights. Reading the movement and situation flawlessly Watanabe capitalized with a monstrous uppercut, clean on the chin. The fight of the night concluded as Kurobe dropped to her knees while taking heavy follow up shots.
After going undefeated in 2022 Kurobe’s road back to the title was abruptly halted by the unheralded Shooto newcomer. Watanabe may be a relative novice with regards to MMA, however, her excellent Judo base combined with powerful striking proved the antithesis to Kurobe’s style. The victory marked a monumental upset that will shake up the division. For Watanabe, young in her career, the sky is the limit!
Match 5: 2022 Rookie of the Year: Flyweight Final, 5 min 2R (Extension 1R)
Nakahiro Katayama defeated Kodai Sudo by Decision, 20-18, 20-18, 20-18
Evenly matched on paper, the Flyweight finals came down to a battle of wills. Sudo started strong, defending the clinch before spotting a window of opportunity to take the back with a figure 4 lock. Kakayama executed a swift reversal and progressed through the positions. Sudo exploded on the ground, bridging to get some breathing space the MMA Rangers Gym member went out of the frying pan and into the fire. Katayama locked up a tight Rear Naked Choke, with one arm constricting the throat the Tribe Tokyo fighter could not free his 2nd arm before time expired.
Like a magnet Katayama ran straight across the cage to clasp legs of Sudo the very moment as the bell sounded. History repeated itself as Sudo took the back and Katayama once again reversed. There was no let up from Katayama who exerted considerable pressure from every position. Passing guard and dropping down strikes the undefeated prospect was all over Sudo. When a moment of opportunity presented itself the underdog scored with double legs and moments of top control. Aware he undoubtedly needed a submission or KO though, Sudo slipped up on his final chance, allowing Katayama to grind out a hard fought but decisive win.
Katayama maintains his unblemished record. Able to impose his tenacious game and win the key scrambles, the skilled hustler has separated himself from the pack.
Match 4: 2022 Rookie of the Year: Welterweight Final, 5 min 2R (Extension 1R)
Yuji Yannick Ephoeviga Defeated Rin “Kuato” Tanaka by TKO, GnP, 1:20, R1
Tanaka found himself in an unenviable position, matched with one of the divisions hottest prospects. “Kuato” came to fight, trading strikes with his intimidating adversary until they clinched up. The physical gap was evident as Ephoeviga wrenched the Paraestra Koiwa fighter head down into some short left hands. His opponent tumbling to the ground from the impact, Tribe Tokyo’s surging Welterweight maintained the attack, delivering punches and elbows. “Kuato” was not out but stuck in guard, prompting the referee to stop the fight.
Ephoeviga declared post fight that he would like to compete at Lightweight. Given his physique, he will be even more of a beast at 155 lbs. Fans will no doubt be keen to see how the standout handles the sharks in the deeper weight class!
Match 3: 2022 Rookie of the Year: Featherweight Final, 5 min 2R (Extension 1R)
Ryuya “Chan-Ryu” Iwamoto defeated Tsubaki Asuka by TKO, Arm Injury from Slam, 1:52, R1
Judoka Iwamoto stepped into the cage with an undefeated 6-0 record, stringing together 5 impressive consecutive finishes. A force to be reckoned with “Chan-Ryu” confidently took the fight to Trident Gym’s Tsubaki. Chaining together a Ko-Soto-Gari outside trip with other takedowns, Tsubaki hit the ground multiple times. Having squared off against some high level competitors, Tsubaki was undeterred, popping back up to his feet every time. Lowering levels to lock arms around the waist Iwamoto hoisted and rotated to dump his foe down. Hitting the canvas awkwardly, Tsubaki suffered a gruesome arm break, his corner signalling to the referee to halt the fight immediately.
A fighter out of MMA Z Gym, “Chan-Ryu” had established himself as a fighter to keep a keen eye on. His reputation as a prolific and vicious finisher extended, a possible ranked opponent could be in store for the future star. For Tsubaki, hopefully the injury is not as serious as it appears and the highly competent fighter gets a chance to prove himself in the cage again sooner rather than later.
Match 2: 2022 Rookie of the Year: Lightweight Final, 5 min 2R (Extension 1R)
Kento Azumi defeated Genta Fukami by decision, 20-18, 20-18, 20-17
Azumi kept the fight uncomfortably close for the beginning of the match and did not deviate in gameplan. Fukami sought some distance to sharp shoot with his destructive, precise strikes. The combos and forward motion from the Alma Fight Gym Base fighter shut Fukami down. Not scared to work his way inside, Azumi surged forward guns blazing with left and right hands. Unable to calculate range and let loose, Fukami was in the fight, loading his right hand but was largely outworked, thrown onto the ground in the dying seconds of the round.
In the 2nd half of the fight, Karateka Fukami created and maintained range, faring better. Landing some heavy leather Fukami kept angling and staying out of prolonged exchanges. Fighting on his own terms the Akasaka Dojo A-Spirit bomber landed his best punches of the match, hurting his adversary. Azumi was unwavering however, coming forward through the strikes with flurries. 1-2s, hooks and spinning backfists kept Fukami guessing as Azumi closed out a clear cut victory.
Match 1: Women’s 49kg contract, 5 min 2R
Fumie Watanabe defeated Sakura Tenten by TKO, 3:35 R1
Daido Juku practitioner Watanabe hit hard as she engaged in a firefight early. Tenten threw back before deciding to switch things up and test her skills in the clinch. Both jockeyed for position against the cage while striking on the inside. Short, accurate knees and elbows in the clinch, combined with the combinations on the feet from Watanabe opened a cut on the MMA Gym Battle fighter. The doctor deemed the cut too severe and the entertaining match came to an abrupt end.
2022 Women’s Strawweight champion, Watanabe fell back on her superb striking to earn a decisive victory and send a message to the division.
Opening Fight: 68kg contract, 5 min 2R
Tesshin Isobe defeated Yoshi Inoue by Submission, Reverse Triangle, 4:57, R2
The first fight of the night got off to a frenetic start as the 2 Paraestra fighters traded strikes. Isobe was on his back foot, firing off high kicks to keep his opponent honest. Inoue found a home for some sharp boxing as he piled on the pressure. Electing to take the fight to the mat, Isobe played defense as Inoue smoothly transitioned to back, switching to lock up a triangle. Blocking the triangle choke and sharp elbows, Isobe did well to see out the opening stanza.
The onset of the 2nd round played out much like the first with Inoue threatening on the feet. Isobe surrendered his back standing and, from the Kimura trap swept Inoue to the mat. Isobe did not mind sacrificing his back in order to be on the ground but struggled with his opponents constricting control. Inoue again utilized a textbook transition to set up inside and outside triangle attempts. With Inoue in the drivers seat and the match coming to an end, the writing seemed on the wall for Paraestra Matsudo’s Isobe. Countering the triangle choke, isobe passed his legs around the head and cinched a reverse triangle. The choke was tight and perfectly executed. Inoue passed out just a few seconds before what was sure to be a dominant victory. Tremendous heart and perseverance by Isobe as he weathered the storm and turned the tables. Proving once again in MMA it is never over until it is over!