'BJ' Kojima Bests Mamoru Late

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Jul 18, 2008
TOKYO -- Shinichi "BJ" Kojima (Pictures) defended his 123-pound title Friday in his third fight with Shooting Gym Yokohama afroed ace Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures).

As expected, the first period of the Shooto Tradition 2 main event at historic Korakuen Hall saw Kojima looking to strike on the feet. He slipped in some decent inside low kicks, but Mamoru responded with his own kicks and several good punch combinations. The champion was forced to push forward and take the clinch, where the challenger appeared to do the most damage by sending up countless knees to BJ’s body.

In the second frame, the BJ of old appeared to slowly seep through the cracks of his striking game, forcing him to resort to doggedly dropping for a single-leg takedown amidst Mamoru’s knee barrages. However, BJ didn’t hit the takedown until the final seconds of the round.

Round three looked to be much the same as the second, and a decision for Mamoru seemed to be in the making. Par for the course of long-time Shootors, however, Mamoru’s championship dreams were shattered after BJ captured a double-leg to put Mamoru on his back.

BJ dropped a number of heavy shots to the body before passing to half guard. An ensuing Mamoru scramble opened him up for a guillotine, where his trademark afro looked to betray its master. Finding it impossible to extricate himself, Mamoru went out on his sword, fighting off BJ’s choke until he passed out at 3:42 in the final round.

For the Pacific Rim 154-pound strap, Yusuke Endo (Pictures) and Kenichiro Togashi (Pictures) fought tooth and nail for 15 minutes. The first period saw Endo dominating in top position. He dropped short punches and hammerfists while Togashi did his best to sweep or climb his legs up for a sub. Receiving instructions a mile a minute from top lightweight Shinya Aoki (Pictures), Togashi tried his best to follow his cornerman’s tips. But despite Aoki’s best intentions, his instructions appeared to confuse Togashi more than actually help him.

Thus, in the second round, Endo used Togashi’s minute-long moment of confusion to sweep and take the top position. There he dropped hard hooks and hammerfists until the bell.

With the third round looking to be much like the first, all three judges saw the bout 30-27 for Endo, awarding him the Pacific Rim 154-pound title.

Matteus Lahdesmaki proved to be more game than expected, surviving some of “Wicky” Akiyo Nishiura (Pictures)’s heaviest punches throughout their three-round 143-pound bout. Largely believed to be imported as an easy win for the Shooting Gym Yokohama wild child, Lahdesmaki got Nishiura to the canvas to mount a bit of offense from the top.

However, Lahdesmaki’s apparently developing skill-set on the ground allowed Nishiura to reverse and take top position several times, with the deciding moment coming midway through the third. After taking a gassed Lahdesmaki’s back, Nishiura unleashed several hard hooks to the side of his head. The strikes prompted referee Taro Wakabayashi to stop the bout at 2:17 for what appeared to be a quick stoppage.

Hiromasa Ougikubo, the 2007 rookie champion at 132 pounds, made quick work of Hiroyuki Tanaka (Pictures). He took down Tanaka and passed to side, where he dropped murderous hammerfists for the knockout. Referee Toshiharu Suzuki hesitated a moment, as the second Ougikubo hammerfist appeared to have woken Tanaka up. In this way, Ougikubo proceeded to knock out his opponent and wake him back up with alternating hammerfists before referee Suzuki had seen enough at a mere 1:35 into the first stanza.

Shinji Sasaki (Pictures) also made quick work of his opponent, veteran Jin Kazeta (Pictures). After a hard knee to the body, Sasaki took a body-lock trip into Kazeta’s guard. A Kazeta scramble opened up the opportunity for Sasaki to take the back, where he sunk in a fight-ending choke at 2:42 into the first frame.

The long and unbelievably lanky Shinya Murofushi (Pictures) used his length destroy the lead leg of Takehiro Harusaki (Pictures). He also smothered Harusaki on the canvas, capturing his back simply by merit of wrapping all the way around his midsection.

While not well versed in the particulars of the rubber guard -- namely the lockdown -- Murofushi easily controlled his opponent and slapped on submission attempts thanks to his length alone. Harusaki was forced to scramble, fending off triangles and a catch heel hook, and he did little else other than survive Murofushi’s offensive offerings. As such, Murofushi took the bout on all three scorecards: 30-28, 30-28, 30-27.

Akihiro Yamazaki took his bout against Naoki Hirayama as an opportunity to test his submission game against an opponent who, other than a few takedowns and one or two punches, did nothing in the way of offensive damage. Hirayama survived through sloppy triangles, toeholds and kneebars, only to lose by majority decision: 20-19, 20-18, 19-19.

Set for a catch-weight of 138 pounds, all signs pointed to late-replacement Nobuhiro Hayakawa losing his bout to Takahiro Hosoi (Pictures) in a fairly hum-drum fight. After defying expectation by dominating the clinch and the grappling in the first round, Hayakawa’s luck ran out in the second. A one-two stunned him into shooting for a sloppy double, and Hosoi slapped on a triangle choke for the tap at 1:31.

Yuta Nezu (Pictures) was laying a beatdown on Haruo Ochi (Pictures) with savage low kicks, surgical left hooks and hard body kicks in their 132-pound rookie tournament bout. Nezu looked, for all intents and purposes, on his way to a TKO or a lopsided decision until a go-for-broke lunging left hook dropped him. Ochi jumped on him immediately and sunk in a bulldog choke for the tap at 3:42.

In a hard-fought 143-pound rookie tournament bout, Naohiro Mizuno (Pictures) met Daiki Tsuchiya (Pictures) punch for punch over two rounds to barely slip by with a majority decision: 20-19, 20-19, 19-19.

In a 154-pound rookie tournament bout, Kiguchi Dojo hot prospect Ikuo Usuda turned on his wrestling after a brief knockdown misstep. He dominated position on Junpei Chikano before securing a rear-naked choke at 3:41 in the second round.
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