Bahadurzada Takes Shooto Title

By Jason Nowe and Stephen Martinez Jul 15, 2007
TOKYO, July 15 -- Despite losing the Shooto featherweight title fight between current champion Akitoshi Hokazono (Pictures) and former champion Ryota Matsune (Pictures), Sustain still managed to put together a top-notch show tonight at mixed martial arts Mecca Korakuen Hall.

In an effort to beef up the card, Sustain dusted off the light heavyweight division, pitting perhaps the most obscure MMA champion in the world, Shiko Yamashita, against the Dutch-bred Afghan fighter Siyar Bahaduzada.

Without a doubt, the light heavyweight division is by far the least active division in all of Japanese Pro Shooto. The Japanese have historically not fared too well at the heavier weight classes, and most of the activity in this division happens abroad at Shooto sanctioned events in America, Europe and Brazil. In fact, with such a lack of Japanese talent in this division, it's somewhat of a miracle that Yamashita rose to take the title in April of 2006.

Bahaduzada displayed an absolutely murderous right hand and excellent takedown defense, sprawling out from most of Yamashita's shots. The impact of the Golden Glory fighter's right hand echoed throughout Korakuen Hall as he used a considerable reach advantage to repeatedly connect on his stocky opponent, scoring a knockdown and opening a cut below the Japanese fighter's left eye in the first round.

Yamashita proved that he could take a punch, and he took many in this fight. His left eye continued to swell and in the later rounds it almost closed completely. Despite several takedown attempts, the Japanese fighter just couldn't manage to bring the action to the mat until the last half of the third and final round, and even then he could not really get anything going from the bottom.

In the final 10 seconds, Yamashita went for a last-ditch effort takedown attempt, only to eat a big knee from Bahaduzada that nearly knocked him unconscious. Fortunately for the Paraestra Sapporo fighter, the bell rang before his Afghan opponent could inflict any more damage.

The fight went to the judges and Bahaduzada took the unanimous victory (30-26 three times) and with it, the Shooto light heavyweight title.

Since taking the Shooto bantamweight title from Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures) last October, Shinichi "BJ" Kojima has had only one lackluster fight. Against 123-pound contender Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures), Kojima was extremely fortunate to be awarded the decision. This time around the Katsumura dojo fighter was pitted against Yasuhiro Akagi in a non-title affair.

Kojima looked fairly sharp, displaying great counterpunching and excellent charging hand-combinations. Akagi managed to wrestle the champion down to the mat in the clinch, but apart from a guillotine attempt from the side he could not put anything together on the canvas.

Akagi was largely outclassed in the striking department, taking a lot of shots that caused the area around his eyes to swell. In the third, the Alive fighter scored a nice hip toss on Kojima, only to see the champion take his back a short time later. Akagi rolled in an attempt to escape, but Kojima figure-foured is legs and stuck to his opponent, peppering him with shots from behind as he fished for the rear-naked choke.

As a result of all the ear boxing and rubbing while trying to secure the choke, Akagi's ear began to bleed badly, forcing a doctor's stoppage. It was ruled that Akagi couldn't continue, and the fight was called at the 3:36 mark of the third round, giving Kojima the TKO victory.

The wheels very nearly fell off of Shooto Pacific Rim 154-pound champion Takashi Nakakura (Pictures)'s wagon very early on in his bout against Swede Jani Lax. In a clinch in the corner, Lax connected with a vicious short punch that sent Nakakura crashing to the mat. The Shooting Gym Osaka fighter took the standing eight-count, but was slow getting to his feet and looked hurt afterward.

Despite this, Nakakura managed to dig deep and survive a Lax onslaught in the corner after the restart, eventually scoring a very impressive shoulder toss. The Pacific Rim champion stood in Lax's guard and abruptly ended the fight by falling back with a heelhook that resulted in a tapout victory at 2:54 of the first round.

Similar to the Nakakura-Lax fight, recently dethroned Shooto lightweight champion Takeshi "Lion" Inoue nearly tasted disaster in the opening seconds of his bout against Marc Duncan when the Dutch fighter narrowly missed connecting a huge jumping knee to Inoue's head. Duncan followed up his strong start by firing several more knees at his opponent in the Thai clinch.

Surviving the onslaught of knees he faced in the first 30 seconds, Inoue eventually got the momentum going his way, scoring a takedown and pounding from the guard before passing to mount. Duncan twisted to escape, but the former champion took his back. From here the Dutch fighter got to his feet with Inoue piggybacking him. As Inoue locked on a rear-naked choke, Duncan fell back to the canvas and was forced to tap at the 3:16 mark of the first.

Paraestra Tokyo's Masakatsu Ueda displayed some slick wrestling in his bout against Shooting Gym Hakkei's Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures), often going for the single-leg takedown. But just as impressive as Ueda's shots was Mizugaki's sprawl, often avoiding the takedowns and managing to stay on his feet.

Mizugaki had the better stand-up, often connecting his big right hand and tagging Ueda with low kicks. Ueda eventually got Mizugaki down to the mat at the end of the second round, passing the guard, scoring the mount and taking back-control, but he couldn't capitalize before the bell signaled the end of the frame.

The third saw Ueda feverishly going for takedowns, but Mizugaki defended each one. The fight went the distance and was ruled a draw.

Recently promoted to Shooto Class A competition, Yuki Shoujou (Pictures) faced off against No. 1 ranked bantamweight standout Masatoshi Abe (Pictures). This was a big fight for Shoujou, who ranked tenth in the division, could have rocketed up the ladder with a win.

Both guys fired a lot of short punches and knees from the clinch in the first, while in the second they stood toe-to-toe and traded leather. Shoujou went for a shot after taking a few too many punches from Abe, managing to survive a guillotine attempt before getting his opponent to the mat.

Abe went for a leg submission attempt from the bottom, only to find himself caught in a guillotine for his efforts. Shoujou managed to lock the technique on and forced Abe to tap at the 3:33 mark of the second for the big upset victory.
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