Bustamante Wins, Kitaoka Earns GP Slot

By Tony Loiseleur Apr 13, 2007
TOKYO, Japan, April 13 -- Despite most of their star talent being out of commission this evening, the ever-brilliant Shigeru Saeki still managed to deliver another entertaining card for tonight's DEEP 29th Impact.

With no titles on the line, the themes of tonight's bouts took center stage, second only to the athletes' performances themselves: the arguably long-awaited rematch between DEEP mainstay Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures) and Brazilian Top Team's Murilo Bustamante (Pictures); the eliminator match to determine who between Satoru Kitaoka (Pictures) and Fabricio Monteiro (Pictures) would have the opportunity to be the first official entrant in PRIDE's lightweight grand prix; the reestablishment of fighters who have, as of late, had a rough time in their division.

In the main event, veteran Murilo Bustamante (Pictures) prevented a repeat of history by definitively crushing DEEP fan favorite Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures) in their second encounter since the former UFC champion took the Japanese fighter through two rounds for the unanimous decision.

Instantly moving for a high takedown in the opening seconds of the first round, Bustamante's plan appeared to be to play to his strengths. Apparently expecting this, Sakurai instantly fought to swim his arms through Bustamante's for double under-hooks, looking to keep the fight standing and in the clinch.

Driven into the corner by Bustamante, Sakurai was then tagged with an unintentional knee to the groin, dropping him to his knees and almost ending the main event in disappointment less than a minute in.

After given the requisite break to recover, Sakurai and Bustamante resumed the bout, and essentially repeated the same actions prior to the low blow: Bustamante shot for a high takedown, and Sakurai responded by backing up and fighting for double under-hooks to keep the fight on the feet, where both men traded several knees.

Putting Sakurai back in the corner, Bustamante worked to tie up the R-Blood fighter's hands while he delivered some hard dirty-boxing rights, causing blood to appear from the Japanese fighter's nose.

After a break for inactivity and a temporary stop to clean Sakurai up, Bustamante pressed the stand-up with punches to the face, looking to aggravate his opponent's nose further. Somewhat angered, Sakurai responded by charging back at the Brazilian with wild three punch flurries that grazed, but did little damage. Bustamante responded in kind with excellent counter punches of his own, essentially out-boxing the Japanese fighter with finesse.

With a hard, meat-packing thud, a winging left hook to the right eye of Sakurai put the Japanese fighter on the canvas, garnering Bustamante the knockout at 3:50 in the first round.

In what could be rightfully considered the co-main event on Friday, 170-pound Pancrase standout Satoru Kitaoka (Pictures) -- who made clear his intentions to compete in the PRIDE lightweight grand prix in February with his unanimous decision win over Gustavo PC (Pictures) -- fought a tough match against Gracie Barra rep "Pitbull" Fabricio Monteiro (Pictures), with the winner receiving the first official nod to fight in this year's tournament.

What many may not have realized coming into this fight was that despite Kitaoka's superlative skills, which is no surprise given the training partners he keeps -- Aoki Shinya and Masakazu Imanari (Pictures), to name but a few -- his fight against Monteiro was anything but a bye to compete in PRIDE.

With impressive performances over the likes of "Abe Ani" Hiroyuki Abe (Hiroyuki Abe' class='LinkSilver'>Pictures), and Jutaro Nakao (Pictures), a match against Monteiro was anything but an easy fight. Given his decisive victory this evening however, Kitaoka has proven to be a solid first entry in what should be a stacked tournament bracket this year.

Opting to forego touching gloves at the beginning of the bout, Kitaoka instead made contact with Monteiro's middle in the form of a Thai kick to the mid section, followed by a takedown in the corner. Peppering Pitbull's face with small hammer shots and his ribs with close in hooks, Kitaoka racked up some points without doing much damage before being stood up by the referee.

With several more middle kick, left straight combos from Kitaoka, Monteiro's answer was to lock up in the clinch to avoid damage and press for the trip takedown. Despite his lack of success with the trip however, Monteiro did manage to execute an impressive high amplitude takedown on the Pancrase star, allowing him to take top position.

Not wanting to give his opponent a chance to do damage, Kitaoka quickly wrapped his left leg around Monteiro's right arm, looking for an omoplata. Not wanting to tempt fate, Pitbull pulled out and stepped back, forcing the fight back to standing, where he tagged the Japanese fighter with knees in the clinch. Kitaoka promptly dropped for a leglock at that moment, but with only seconds remaining in the round, Monteiro decided to drop hard punches to his opponent's face from standing instead of trying to escape the submission attempt.

The second frame saw Kitaoka continuing his mid-kick barrage, with Monteiro having little in response other than closing the distance for the clinch and kneeing from the inside. After being broken up by the ref during one of these many exchanges, Kitaoka faked a takedown attempt, whereupon he was able to catch his sprawling opponent with a surprise uppercut to the jaw, followed by two left hooks that left the Brazilian dazed and searching for the double-leg takedown. Gaining top position off the attempt, Kitaoka resumed with his small, peppering hammer shots to the face before transitioning from half-guard to the mount. Snaking his arms around Monteiro's neck and arm, Kitaoka muscled in the arm triangle for the submission at 2:37 into the second round.

In his post-fight speech, Kitaoka thanked DEEP commander-in-chief Saeki and DEEP executive sponsor Kato for allowing him tonight's opportunity, as well as the fans for their continued support. After briefly promoting the "strength of Pancrase," Kitaoka addressed the crowd once again, saying, "let's meet up again at the PRIDE lightweight grand prix, everybody!"

Kitaoka then turned toward Shooto world middleweight champion and PRIDE star Shinya Aoki (Pictures), -- in attendance this evening as a guest commentator -- and stated, "I'll be waiting for you in the grand prix, Aoki!" to boisterous cheers. Aoki, ever the class act, stood up and responded with a bow, accepting the challenge of his long time training partner.

In a fight worthy even of some of Shooto's best technical, back-and-forth matches, Ryan Bow (Pictures) and "Barbaro44" Yoshihiro Tomioka (Pictures) traded blows tit-for-tat for two rounds before Bow took his opponent to the canvas and submitted him at 3:20 in the third round.

Looking to end the fight early with swift, vicious punches in the first and second round, Bow was hard-pressed to put away the scrappy Japanese fighter. Upon realizing that he could survive Bow's standing barrages, Barbaro44 proceeded to rack up points by mixing punches and low kicks, taking shot after shot on the KO-seeking Bow.

After expending a good deal of stamina chasing that elusive KO punch, Bow changed tactics late in the second and third rounds, opting then to take Barbaro44 down and pound him out. Bow's relentless ground game eventually paid dividends in the third stanza, as he was able to secure Tomioka's back and pound on him until he was open for the rear-naked choke for the submission.

Despite having somewhat of a rough time in the recent past, Bow establishes himself as once again being a contender in DEEP's lightweight title picture with this win. It comes, perhaps unfortunately, at the expense of Tomioka, one of DEEP's few successfully homegrown fighters.

Realizing this however, Bow took to the microphone, requesting that Saeki allow him the next shot at new DEEP lightweight champion, Kazunori Yokota (Pictures), as his next bout.

DEEP lightweight women's champion Hisae Watanabe (Pictures) rebounded from her loss to Korean Muay Thai champion Ham Su Hi with a win against the always-game Masako Yoshida (Pictures). Yoshida, who has recently not been taking life easy with her choice of opponents (recent among which were the ever dynamic Megumi Fujii (Pictures), and tough-as-nails Lisa Ward (Pictures)), was pounded on by the superior kickboxer throughout the first and second rounds, only to have the tables turned on her in what would have been considered her best route to victory against the champion: the ground game.

Looking to take Watanabe down throughout the duration of the first, Yoshida was punished time and again with hard kicks to the legs and midsection. Knowing she was otherwise outmatched on the feet, Yoshida purposefully took a hard Watanabe kick to the midsection to catch her opponent's leg in an attempt to take her down to the mat.

Finally gaining top position, Yoshida suddenly found herself defending a triangle attempt. Alas, like her stand-up skills, Yoshida's submission defense also proved to be no obstacle for the focused champion, as Watanabe locked up the armbar at 1:19 in the second for the submission finish.

Watanabe's win is arguably vindication for her otherwise poor performance against Ham Su Hi, where she admittedly took punishment on the feet instead of attempting to take the fight to the ground where she held a distinct advantage over the Korean fighter.

"I have a ground game," said Watanabe, after her fight with Ham, "But I just couldn't use it."

Blitzing Yoshida on the feet only to secure a picture-perfect armbar in the second proved that the women's champ still had game in droves this evening.

DEEP mainstay Yasuhito Namekawa (Pictures) submitted Yuji Sakuragi (Pictures) at just under the halfway mark in the first round in a quick and exciting bout. Resolutely pursuing the simple plan of taking the fight to the floor, Namekawa looked to be in trouble early as Sakuragi was able to tag him several times off of otherwise slow and sloppy takedown attempts. Be that as it may, Namekawa persevered and managed to turn one failed shot into a heelhook, forcing a swift tapout at 2:10 into the first.

Cristiano Kaminishi (Pictures), one of the few PRIDE amateur standouts to successfully make his presence known in professional MMA, racked up a dominant win this evening by putting "Sentoryu" Henry Miller (Pictures) out via flying knee KO in the first round of their heavyweight bout.

At first looking to chop the former sumo wrestler down with low kicks, a kick caught by Sentoryu allowed him to take the AXIS Jiujitsu rep down, landing in his guard. Staying close in, not wanting to let the grappler utilize his jiu-jitsu, Sentoryu delivered several conservative punches to the ribs.

When Kaminishi began shifting his hips, it proved to be Sentoryu's cue to pull out from guard and stand up. Back on the feet, Kaminishi worked Miller with kicks at varying levels before surprising him with a flying knee to the chin that left the American dazed. Landing two more punches for good measure while Sentoryu slowly tipped over like a just-chopped tree, Kaminishi closed in looking to land a soccer kick finish. Fortunately for Miller however, the ref stepped in before the final blow, ending the bout at the 4:00 mark for the KO victory.

Up-and-coming DEEP lightweight Michihiro Omigawa (Pictures) racked up another win tonight, making a statement by dominating Naoki Matsushita (Pictures) with crushing ground-and-pound at the beginning of the second round.

With Omigawa charging in with bunches of punches throughout the first period, the onus of counter-fighting fell upon veteran Matsushita's shoulders. Despite being able to score several good counters, Matsushita was unable to send the message that he was still dangerous and in the game, as the incoming Omigawa continued to push forward with his barrage. The accumulated damage seemed to have taken its toll, as an Omigawa flurry lead into the clinch, where he promptly judo tossed the MB3z fighter to the canvas, gaining mount, and then back position on the winded and battered Matsushita. Flattening out the bewildered Matsushita, Omigawa began dropping bomb after bomb. Matsushita clearly had no recourse at this point, forcing the referee to stop the bout at 1:17 of the second, awarding Omigawa the TKO win.

Omigawa catapulted himself up into the title picture alongside Bow tonight. Losing a narrow split decision to Kazunori Yokota (Pictures) in a bout to decide who would face then-lightweight champ Nobuhiro Obiya (Pictures), Omigawa appears to be set for a rematch against the newly crowned champ, Yokota. Omigawa's inclusion into the lightweight title mix is certainly intriguing, given that their last encounter was particularly even between either men.

Fast-paced action and a rear-naked choke finish, courtesy of one Shigetoshi Iwase (Pictures), saw Sen Nakadai (Pictures) lost at 3:25 of the first frame. Despite Nakadai arguably getting the better of the stand-up and clinch fighting, Iwase barreled through the blows at the typical frantic pace many MMA fans have come to expect from fighters with strong wrestling backgrounds.

With Iwase vigorously pursuing a takedown, it was only a matter of time before he managed to wear down and outwork his opponent, transitioning from mount to back-mount, where he cranked in the rear-naked choke at just over halfway through the first.

Katsunori Kikuno (Pictures) defeated Takuhiro Kamikozono (Pictures) by split decision in yet another competitive, back-and-forth lightweight bout this evening. With Kikuno doing most of the damage in the first round by mixing his stand-up combos with stiff punches and solid low and high kicks, Kamikozono slowly came to realize that a change in game plan was in order, as his attempt to land the right straight wasn't going to happen.

Kamikozono's only option appeared to be to take the fight to the mat in an attempt to pound out a win, but given the damage and fatigue he was suffering from, it looked to be a remote possibility. Though his takedowns were successful, Kikuno was able to tie up Kamikozono and keep the damage to a minimum.

Despite even mounting and taking his opponent's back briefly toward the end of the second frame, Kamikozono was unable to capitalize, as Kikuno escaped through the back door, shaking his opponent onto the mat and ended the round with several seconds of ground-and-pound. Left to the judges' discretion, two gave the nod to Kikuno, with one single dissenting judge deeming the bout a draw.

Replacing Yoshida Dojo's Ryuchi Murata, veteran mixed martial artist Joe Doerksen (Pictures) handily defeated CMA Korea judoka Kim Dae Won by triangle at 3:35 in the first round of their middleweight bout. After outmaneuvering his opponent while in the clinch, Doerksen was able to capitalize off of a trip that put Kim on the floor, where the Canadian was able to take his opponent's back and deliver punches to the head while working for the rear-naked choke.

Momentarily giving up on the choke when Kim's defense proved the attempt too difficult, Doerksen shifted his legs to isolate an arm for an armbar. Kim took the opportunity of Doerksen's transition to power out from underneath and bring the fight back to the standing position.

Taking Doerksen down soon after, Kim appeared to have finally turned the round in his favor until the practiced vet effortlessly shifted his hips to lock on the fight-ending triangle choke.

Kawaguchi Yuusuke took a hard-fought split decision victory over Fujiyama in their two-round affair that saw Kawaguchi delivering and landing a majority of the punches during their stand-up exchanges.

The match consisted primarily of Kawaguchi opening up with flurries, while Fujiyama covered and clinched whenever the barrages became too much for him. It was in the clinch that Fujiyama found his own success, as he was able to land several knees and use dirty boxing to score points against the inert Kawaguchi.

Despite that however, the innumerable barrages from Kawaguchi were enough to convince two of the judges to decide in his favor, with the one remaining judge deeming the bout a draw.
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