Shooto 2023 Vol.5 Results and Review. Strawweight Championship Ends in Stunning Finish!

Main Event: World Strawweight Championship 5M x 5R

Jo Arai Defeated Shuto Aki by TKO, 4:41, R1 (Right Hook, GnP)

2 of the finest strikers in the sport collided in a high intensity bout that was destined not to go the distance. Jo Arai and Shuto Aki delivered a sensational match for as ong as it lasted. As the bell sounded the champion sprinted across the cage at Aki who held his ground. Both threw down simultaneously, narrowly missing their targets. The clash and momentum carried Arai off balance and the perceptive Aki capitalised. Hoisting Arai into the air from back position the challenger slammed the champion to the canvas with authority. Arai endured, predicted and defended the chokes and strikes coming from behind him as Aki looked to do damage in the clinch. Once the Kingdom/ Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts fighter broke free the highly anticipated striking battle got underway.

It was the rangy challenger who struck first, finding a home for a stiff, sharp jab that stung Arai at range. Marked up from walking into pin point jabs and crosses, the champion was unwavering, marching forward to close the distance. Once in range Arai fired with vicious intent, never wasting a single dynamite blow. Aki was stunned from the first clean shot. Game, the young gun called Arai on, bravely trading 1-2’s elbows and his trademark jab. Arai utilized his signature right to body, right to head hook, monstrous blows sending his foe careering to the mat once again. Some ground and pound sealed the deal as the referee called a halt to the action at the tail end of the opening round. Aki can hold his head high, going out on his shield the talented MMA Z Gym striker has a bright future.

Another sublime showing from the Straw-weight champion and MVP Jo Arai. A fairy-tail success story, from a 8 fight slide, Arai now finds himself riding an unprecedented 10 fight win streak, a prime example of his “never give up” philosophy. The destructive 115lb title holder doubled down on his desire to become Shooto’s first 2 division champion. Active and ranked at 125lbs the only thing standing in Arai’s was would appear to be paperwork, Shooto rules state that a fighter cannot have belts in more than one weight class. Could Arai spark a change in the system? If any fighter deserves a shot at another belt it would be Straw-weight champion and K.O king Jo Arai.


Co-Main Event: Bantamweight 5M x 3R

Daichi Takenaka Defeated Nobuku Fujii by Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Both seasoned professionals got to work quick, trading shots as they tested the water on the feet. Daichi Takenaka favoured kicks before hitting a Superman punch to close the distance. Fujii worked his hands, planning to set his typical high tempo pace. The round was contested by tight moments. Takenaka found the first opening as the Paraestra Izumi standout inched his way to the back from a body lock. Fujii defended well but was shut out in the positional battle and, while Takenaka could not mount any significant offense he was in control as the bell sounded.

As the 2nd round commenced Takenaka was keen to get back to where he left off. As Fujii defended a back take Takenaka rested a knee over the Alliance representatives leg. Falling to his back with a seat-belt grip the knee pressure allowed Takenaka to attain back with hooks in. Fujii, who is typically the fighter in the drivers seat setting the pace was falling into the trap of the slow, methodical, flawless style of his opponent. Takenaka stamped his authority on the round as he appeared to grow ever more dominant.

Realising he was down 2 rounds Fujii came out possessed, firing on all cylinders leaving it all in the cage. Normally tactical and reserved the Pacific Rim champion was throwing caution to the win, and it was working. A right hand rocked Takenaka and Fujii did not let up pursuing his hurt adversary around the cage. Takenaka was able catch a leg and expertly take the back again! Fujii reversed and was met by a guillotine choke. Fujii escaped and released some solid ground and pound. Turning the tables it was Fujii’s turn to seize the back as he desperately tried to lock up a rear naked choke.

As the final round concluded both warriors embraced, showing mutual respect. The game of high stakes chess between elite grapplers was one by Takenaka 2 rounds to one. In defeat Fujii gave a fine account of himself, the fighter that “fighters do not want to fight” finished another fight strong. Takenaka, however, was impeccable with his technique, solidifying himself as a future contender for sure.


Match 8: Flyweight 5M x 3R

Wataru Yamauchi Defeated Shingo Yakul by KO, 1:10, R1 (Left Straight)

Shingo Yakul used combinations to set up a textbook takedown as the opening stanza got underway. Wataru Yamauchi refused to be grounded however, kicking his way back to his feet. From there he blasted Yakul with a straight right and followed up with a murderous left that folded the T-Rex Jujitsu fighter. Some follow up ground and pound got through as the referee dived in.

Further solidifying his position as the no1 contender, Fight Farm’s Yamauchi tallied his unblemished record to 6 straight including 2 spectacular back to back finishes. After the match the surging Flyweight politely requested a title shot, proposing a showdown with the formidable Strawweight champion Jo Arai!


Match 7: Flyweight 5M x 3R

Yuto Sekiguchi Defeated Nobutaka Naito (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Yuto Sekiguchi put his unorthodox striking on display early in the first with Ushiro-Mawashi-Geri spinning back kicks high to the head and low, sliding across the canvas, to the foot! Sticking to the basics Nobutaka Naito worked combinations with hands and feet, aiming to catch the divisions number 2 who has a tendency to drop hands after attacks. Going low with the spin a second time Sekiguchi then threw out a Capoiera style cartwheel kick that grazed the head of Naito.

Leaping in with an flying fist Sekiguchi was putting on a show, goading and baiting his opponent with arms behind back and chin out. Naito was switching up attacks, trying to solve the riddle by changing up combinations the Paraestra Matsudo fighter found success by finishing attacks with uppercuts. A lot of stutter steps from Sekicuchi culminating with a “baseball pitch” overhand left. Seemingly frustrated, Naito charged his taunting opponent at the end of the round only to be taken down.

Bouncing around in a jittery fashion Sekiguchi appeared to be getting into his opponents head. The far more conventional fighter Naito was able to get a read on the bizarre movements at times and catch with uppercuts and knees. Continuing to mix up attacks Sekiguchi was slowing, Naito had shut down a lot of takedown attempts and was finding his mark with straight hands. Sekiguchi scored with a big takedown late and pored down some ground and pound as bell sounded.

Despite the antics there is method to Sekiguchi’s madness. The unconventional volley of attacks acts as a great defense, as fighters cannot anticipate where Shooto Gym Tokyo fighter will be. By mixing volume and power opponents are also kept guessing, wary about charging in. Finally takedowns seem to be a big goal for the cerebral fighter, who sets traps, with hard to read attacks, skittish movement and taunting opponents are caught unaware by the level changes. Naito was not outclassed by any means, the 5th ranker was able to shut down a lot of the takedowns and avoid the attacks but could not shift the momentum and lead the dance.


Match 6: Bantamweight 5M x 3R

SuSung Cho Gotoh Defeated Kenji “Enshin Bouncer” Kato by KO, 4:07, R3 (Right Hook)

A tense opening round got underway with both strikers wary of each others finishing ability. Kenji Kato sought to capitalise on timing, entering with speed and precision while evading counters. SuSung Cho Gotoh carried the explosive firepower and flashy, deadly kicks. Somewhat surprisingly Kato started the round heavy with the kicks against the Taekwondo practitioner. Not to be outdone, SuSung fired hook kicks to the head, side kicks and unleashed an acrobatic spinning back kicks was narrowly avoided. Both fighters found their marks as the action flowed back and forth. “Enshin Bouncer” is a habitual hunter and was keeping his opponent on the back foot. SuSung did not seem to mind, aiming to catch Kato as he came in. All business striving forward and throwing hands, Kato was busy. SuSung was calm and collected and, when he landed, it was thunderous.

Kato continued to use his mobility as the 2nd round kicked off, darting in and out of range and throwing with ever increasing combinations. Krazy Bee power striker SuSung threw his bodyweight into massive overhand lefts that echoed around the hall. As Kato came in more frquently, applying the pressure, he was also increasing the risk of getting caught by the bombs hurtling past him. Playing with fire Kato was undeterred in his resolve to take the fight to his opponent. SuSung strung together some combinations, ending with body kicks that were reaching the fast mover. While Kato threw often, the variety was limited compared to the Taekwondo style striking of SuSung. As the round ended both fighters had earned each others respect and made their marks.

SuSung was throwing everything with ill intent, low and middle kicks and distance covering hooks. Kato ramped up the volume, staying in the pocket to land double right hand hooks. Su with hard low kicks as the intensity was reaching boiling point. Rushing in once again SuSung timed a picture perfect thudding left that put Kato down. Going as heavy as possible for the finish SuSung could not get past the bloodied Kato’s defense. Kato still had his wits about him and was stoic in his pursuit of a finish, the bigger blows came from the heavily muscled SuSung however. The final destructive right hook in the dying seconds sent blood spraying out of Kato’s mouth, as the tough bruiser was sent careering to the canvas for good. The end of the sensational back and forth war came shortly before the final bell of the last round.

SuSung’s ascent has been building in momentum and, with his brutal finish of perennial ranked fighter Kato, a run at the title would not be out of range. The sky is the limit for the charismatic fighter trained by the late Kid Yamamoto.


Match 5: Lightweight 5M x 2R

Shota “Odin” Takagi Defeated Daiki Yuki by Majority Decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19)

10th ranked Lightweight Daiki Yuki established his stiff jab early, pot-shotting the aggressive Shota Takagi. Odin pressured a reaction from his opponent in order to counter. The physically impressive Fighting Dreamers gym representative came on strong late. Finding his rhythm, “Odin” came over the top of Yuki’s jab, landing left-right combinations, following up with uppercuts. Master Japan Fukuoka’s Yuki held his own, going first he built up volume with pin point accuracy. There was no denying the raw power of “Odin” however, who marched through opponents offence to land his own.

“Odin” entered the 2nd with the intent to finish. Working his way into range he uncorked 1-2’s and, as his foe ducked to evade, Takagi blasted knees and uppercuts. The fight savvy Yuki mixed things up with grappling, attempting to take the back but “Odin”, who is a decorated Judoka, countered well. By the end of the round the Yuki was the one back stepping as “Odin” really turned the heat up, coming close to a stoppage.

Touted as a top prospect Takagi lived up to his potential against a tough draw in ranked Lightweight Yuki. With a Judo backbone “Odin’s” takedown defence was on point. Added to his grappling is an ever improving striking arsenal which has become his “A-game”. In his Shooto debut Takagi not only claimed his first Shooto win but his first professional win period! The Abema TV backed star in the making has a bright future.


Match 4: Infinity League 2023 Women’s strawweight 5M x 2R

Emi “The Kamikaze Angel” Fujino Defeated Angel Shiho by Submission, 3:06, R1 (Rear Naked Choke)

Emi Fujino wasted no time in taking the fight to Shiho, relentless with  an onslaught of punches from the clinch that had her taller foe in a world of trouble. Shiho did a remarkable job recovering from the blows and staying composed. It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire however as she got teed off on with elbows and punches from top. Weathering the storm and returning to the feet Shiho was bulldozed again into the cage, this time the Tri-Force Akasaka submission specialist powered into a “Pancrase” guillotine choke. Survival for the Grappling Shootboxers Tajimi fighter Shiho meant dropping to her back to release the constricting pressure. On top again the “Kamikaze Angel” rained down hammers until she could shift her hips to secure a rear naked choke that she worked on mercilessly, draining the defenses until Shiho, inevitably succumbed. Shiho showed heart and potential but the difference in experience and level was apparent.

Fujino announced her return to Shooto and entry to the Infinity League in style, with a dominant, top scoring performance. Undoubtedly the most physical fighter in the league, can anyone stop her forward momentum?


Match 3: Infinity League 2023 Women’s strawweight 5M x 2R

Momoka Hoshuyama Defeated Haruka Yoshinari by Majority Decision (20-18,20-18,19-19)

Momoka Hoshuyama was able to pin Haruka Yoshinari against cage where both fighters exchanged knees. As soon as they separated the planted feet and held ground, creating a wild exchange as they went blow for blow. Hoshuyama’s strikes seemed to have a little more starch, however Yoshinari was right in the pocket. As both fighters are known for their grit, heart and spirit neither wanted to back down. Between the throw downs the action hit the fence where the Akasaka dojo A-Spirit striker controlled the majority of the time.

The final stanza unfolded a lot like the first round, with Hoshuyama letting rip with the crisper, cleaner strikes and Yoshinari snapping the head back with compact power. Hoshuyama again controlled the cage time as they jostled for position. When she found a glimmer of an opportunity Yoshinari locked up the head and arm and secured a textbook O-Uchi-Gari throw to put Hoshuyama on her side. Unable to find the space to inflict a lot of damage Yoshinari notched some control time until her opponent returned the fight to the feet. As the seconds ticked down the Shooting Uruno Dojo fighter tried the exact same throw again, it was not pretty but briefly scored.

While the striking numbers were likely not so different, Hoshuyama was cleaner, harder and more efficient with her striking. Against the cage the long-limbed fighter was also able to dictate positioning. Hoshuyama won a majority decision, the throws from Yoshinari in the 2nd likely the factor for the dissenting judge scoring the fight a draw. Hoshuyama moves forward in the Infinity League with 3 hard earned points.


Match 2: Infinity League 2023 Featherweight 5M x 2R

Yamato Hamamatsu Defeated Tesshin Isobe by Majority Decision (20-18, 20-18, 19-19)

With his strong suit in wrestling Yamato Hamamatsu drove Isobe to the cage early. Eager to get the match to the canvas Hamamatsu initiated a throw only to have a wizzer defense granted Isobe top position. Spending little time on his back Hamamatsu made space and scrambled to the feet where he reversed positions, briefly sending Isobe to the canvas. From a body lock against the cage the T-Grip wrestler dumped Isobe down again, and again. Finally able to control the position Hamamatsu avoided the Kimura counter and hammered from the top .

The heavier hitter, Isobe wanted to keep the fight on the feet and got his wish as the final round started. Not shy to engage in a fire fight Hamamatsu traded heavy leather until an opportunistic takedown entry presented itself. On his back once more Paraestra Matsudo trained Isobe defended tight rear naked choke attempts and covered up well as Hamamatsu put him through the grinder from back mount.

Hamamatsu turned up the intensity late in the match and was able to ensure a strong finish against a skilled all-rounder. Ever improving the grappling specialist is stringing together techniques with fluidity and securing rounds that eluded him before. The win nets Hamamatsu 3 points in the Infinity League, taking his tally to 6.


Match 1: Infinity League 2023 Featherweight 5M x 2R

Taira Uehara Defeated Ryuya “Chan Ryu” Iwamoto (Iwamoto missed weight)

For the second time in the Infinity League tournament Ryuya “Chan Ryu” Iwamoto failed to make the contracted weight. His opponent Taira Uehara gains 3 points as a result. Iwamoto has been ejected from the tournament completely following his 2nd rule violation.


2023 Rookie of the Year Tournament First Round Flyweight 5M x 2R

Kosuke Oishi Defeated Kousuke Kinoshita by Judges Vote (3-0)

Shooto’s Rookie of the year Tournament is a good barometer for evaluating future breakthrough fighters. An evenly matched bout got underway with Kosuke Oishi and Kousuke Kinoshita utilising all facets of MMA. Kinoshita was the aggressor for a lot of the round as fighters ducked and countered, taking the fight to the cage where they jockeyed for position. As Kinoshita threw a kick Oishi fired a 1-2 combination that grazed the head. The blow was not landed clean but was enough to send the off balance Ground Core fighter down.

Trident gyms Kinoshita took the initiative in the final round, firing right hands in order to lock up single leg attempts. Oishi defended well and answered with knees. Both engaged in some dirty boxing against the cage before Kinoshita scored a definitive takedown. Working some ground and pound a close round, and fight came to an end and went to the judges scorecards.

The bout was a majority draw. The Rookie of the Year tournament needed a winner to advance and, due to the knockdown and strong opening frame, all 3 judges sided with Oishi.


Strawweight 5M x 2R

Hiroto Nei Defeated Takumi Satomi by Unanimous Decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)

In the opening round Southpaw Hiroto Nei ducked under a punch for a well timed double leg. Slickly taking the back as Takumi Satomi tried to escape Nei took him for a ride with a big supplex! Satomi popped back up but his tenacious opponent was on a single for another takedown. Nei took a huge risk in sacrificing position for a leglock. With both fighters in the 50/ 50 position, they alternated leg lock attempts with loaded opportunistic punches!

Nei takes a shot under pressure from far out and, despite opponents sprawl is skilled enough to complete it. Satomi refused to stay down and worked to his feet in what was becoming a fiercely contested and exciting match. Going “all in” with a jumping knee Satomi is instead planted on his back. Nei wanted to direct the flow of the fight to his realm and looked for takedonw after takedown. Satomi has heavy hands but lack of activity was hurting him. Nei returned to the mat for the final time, raining down ground and pound but Satomi got back up, and with 30 seconds left blasted away will all he had.

Each fighter gave a great account of themselves in an entertaining clash of styles. Nei managed to fight his fight and was able to take home a well earned unanimous decision



About the Author

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

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