Top Shootors Go Back Their Roots

Kojima vs. Dantas

By Jordan Breen Nov 7, 2007
Shinichi Kojima (Pictures) (8-1-4) vs. Eduardo Dantas (2-1-0)

After a shocking 98-second strangulation of long-reigning Shooto world champion Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures) in October of last year, things were looking pretty good for Shinichi "BJ" Kojima. However, the fiery 123-pound kingpin has struggled in 2007.

In fact, still being 123-pound champion at all is somewhat of a miracle for BJ. In March title challenger Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures) dominated him from bell to bell. BJ had virtually no offense in what was a 15-minute striking battle, and he looked generally foolish against the slick counterstriking of Urushitani. Inexplicably, the bout was ruled a split draw, robbing and completely victimizing Urushitani, who more than certainly deserved to take the title.

In July, in an effort to rebound from his humiliating performance against Urushitani, BJ met the solid but unspectacular Yasuhiro Akagi (Pictures) in a non-title affair. Akagi clearly bested the champion for stretches of the bout, but BJ avoided what could've been a nasty situation after his ear-boxing from back mount caused one of Akagi's cauliflowered ears to explode and bleed profusely, earning him a TKO win.

After such miserable back-to-back performances, you might think that BJ would want to get back into the groove at 123 pounds. And given that, Shooto's most erratic champion has decided to move up to 132 pounds, since his ultimate goal is to wear Shooto world titles at both 123 and 132 pounds. However, if there is any factor to mitigate the curious move by the champion, it is that he will meet a relative novice in 18-year-old Nova Uniao product Eduardo "Dudu" Dantas.

Following his 18th birthday in February, Dantas began his MMA career picking up wins over William Parrudinho and Fabio Oliveira in Shooto Brazil, which is organized and promoted by his trainer and mentor, Andre Pederneiras. In his last bout against Aritano Barbosa, the young Brazilian suffered his first loss after illegally soccer kicking his foe, who was all but finished on the mat. However formative an experience, it isn't exactly the sort of moment that prepares you for facing a Shooto world champion.

While he is a Nova Uniao product, Dudu has shown a preference for standing up and banging with his opponents. He can control the pace with solid low kicks, has nice roundhouse kicks and can put combinations together well with his hands. He's shown the ability to sweep and reverse to dominant position and is generally a very active fighter.

However, those traits have been present in fighting nobodies at the Brazilian grassroots level. Against BJ, Dudu will be up against a well-rounded and high-level fighter. BJ's strength is not necessarily in the striking or grappling department but in the transition game. He consistently finds ways to reverse himself out of poor positions and has a knack for taking opponents' backs. His striking game is not spectacular but serviceable, and he has shown the ability to connect frequently with his hands. More impressively, he's done the aforementioned things against legitimate opponents.

That is essentially what the bout comes down to. Because Dudu is so incredibly green and inexperienced, it is hard to say what exactly he'll be able to do against BJ. His striking is decent, but he's only been able to fight anonymous competition. He is from Nova Uniao, but his submission game doesn't appear considerably developed. He can execute sweeps, but he is not a potent wrestler.

While BJ will be moving up to 132 pounds, he will still likely be the stronger fighter. The only physical advantage that will be enjoyed by Dudu will be a reach advantage, which may not play a huge role in the fight.

Ultimately, how the fight plays out depends on how good Dudu really is and what survival instincts he has. BJ is not a huge threat on the feet or a top-position pounder. Is Dudu's Nova Uniao pedigree enough to save him from getting his back taken and choked out? That is really the only issue of contention. If Dudu is completely overmatched and doesn't yet have the technical skills that Andre Pederneiras' students have become known for, he'll likely be sent tapping early in the fight. If he does have those skills, at the very least, BJ dominates a pointless fight in every way against an overmatched opponent en route to a lopsided decision.
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