Rumina Sato lost three in a row before fighting for Shooto gold in 2009. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
10. Rumina Sato vs. Takeshi Inoue
Shooto Tradition Final | May 10, 2009 -- Tokyo
Sato entered his 143-pound title bout against Inoue having lost his past three outings and five of his last six fights overall. To make his title candidacy even less impressive, “Moon Wolf” had been stopped in all of those defeats, by strikes, submissions and even once by a cut. It was clear that the then 35-year-old fighter was far removed from the prime of a career that began with a 12-fight unbeaten streak.
Sato offered a valiant effort in defeat. While Inoue started slowly, Sato -- bandaged from knee to ankle on his left leg -- attacked with an array of flashy strikes: side kicks, spinning back kicks, axe kicks, flying knees and Superman punches.
Sato appeared to be on the verge of an upset when he dropped the champion with a left hook. Inoue was able to gather his wits, however, and take advantage of what perhaps was an overeager challenger. Inoue landed a flurry of short strikes that sent Sato tumbling into the corner, and he unloaded with more unanswered strikes to finish the contest from there. Despite the nature of the victory and Sato’s questionable status as No. 1 contender, Inoue paid tribute to his opponent.
“I knew he’d be impatient to finish, so I wanted to take my time and proceed calmly,” Inoue said after the bout. “I won, but I owe my origins to Rumina. I want to one day become someone as influential as him.”
Sato continues to compete with mixed results. After winning two straight following his loss to Inoue, “Moon Wolf” has since come up short in three consecutive bouts.
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