Fighters Advance In Cageforce Tournaments

By Jason Nowe and Stephen Martinez Mar 17, 2007
TOKYO, March 17 — While the saying "things get better with age" may be pretty debatable, it certainly rings true for the Caol Uno (Pictures)-backed Cageforce promotion, the only cage-fighting event in Japan.

From its humble beginnings as the bizarrely titled D.O.G., the promotion has really developed and come into its own. Since joining the Worldwide Cage Network and adopting rules congruent with those of the UFC, the promotion has seen a wealth of Japanese and foreign talent grace the Octagon. The use of elbows, while taking a little time to get use to, now seem commonplace for both the Japanese fighters and fans alike.

Tonight's event was a continuation of the 15-man lightweight tournament started last month in the promotion's Tottori show, and the beginning of the nine-man welterweight tournament, with the winners of both brackets vying for a shot at participation in the UFC.

The main event of the evening pitted Hidetaka Monma (Pictures) against Janne Tulirinta.

Monma, who has been on a bit of a skid as of late with back-to-back stoppage losses against Luigi Fioravanti (Pictures) and K-1 Hero's Lightweight Grand Prix tournament winner Gesias Calvancanti (Pictures), was no doubt looking to get his career back on track with a quarterfinal victory over Finnish opponent.

Right off the bell, the two fighters came charging at each other and began to slug it out. Tulirinta eventually scored a takedown at the fence, falling into Monma's guard. The Japanese fighter didn't waste any time on his back, quickly grabbing his left foot for the rubber guard and drawing it past his opponent's face. From here Monma shifted his hip and secured a tight omoplata.

With his opponent firmly pinned to the mat, Monma threw down punches from the top. The trapped Tulirinta could do little more than cover up with his left hand in an attempt to defend the punches that came down at him. Eventually Monma stretched out the omoplata, hyper-extending the Fin's shoulder and forcing him to tap at the 2:48 mark of the first.

With this victory, Monma will face the winner of the quarterfinal bout between current welterweight King Of Pancrase champion Daizo Ishige (Pictures) and English Cage Warriors champion "The Outlaw" Dan Hardy, which is likely to happen in May.

After losing his Shooto welterweight title rematch against Shinya Aoki (Pictures) a month ago, Akira Kikuchi (Pictures) was back in action, this time against Jared Rollins (Pictures).

Kikuchi, thought by many to have an excellent shot at fighting in the UFC, was all about the takedown in this one. The former Shooto 167-pound champ used the cage to his advantage, pushing Rollins to the fence and clasping his hands behind the American's legs to get him to the mat.

Kikuchi passed guard and applied a beauty of an armbar only to see Rollins execute an equally impressive escape that left the crowd in awe.

The second round again saw Kikuchi get a takedown at the fence, eventually making his way to the mount. From here the Japanese fighter began to rain down punches. Rollins twisted to defend the blows, exposing his back to his opponent. Rather than go after the rear-naked choke, Kikuchi opted to sit up and continued to deliver punches to the side of his pinned-down opponent's head until the referee called for a stop to the action at the 1:34 mark.

The first fight on the welterweight side of the bracket saw former welterweight King Of Pancrase champion Katsuya Inoue (Pictures) square off against Tokyo's Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Pictures).

Inoue, who lost his Pancrase title to Daizo Ishige (Pictures) last August, could have possibly rematched the current champion in the Cageforce octagon if both survived to the semifinals of the tournament. However, this scenario will now never happen.

Both came out slugging in this one, but it was Yoshida who was first to land a power punch. The badly rocked Inoue was forced to fight an uphill battle from this point, trying to tie his opponent up while pinned to the fence in an effort to regain his composure. But Yoshida smelled blood and knew that Inoue was in trouble.

From here Yoshida employed some very impressive "dirty boxing" from the clinch, scoring hard uppercuts on the former Pancrase champ.

Inoue survive a few of the strikes, but eventually went down from the onslaught. Yoshida followed his opponent to the mat and continued to pound until the referee step in, stopping the action at the 1:45 mark.

With this upset victory, Yoshida will advance to a quarterfinal match-up against seeded competitor Justin Turtle, likely to happen in May.

Akira Kikuchi (Pictures)'s teammate, Shooto veteran Kotetsu Boku, made fairly quick work of Jarkko Latomaki. Working to the top after a Latomaki takedown, the Japanese fighter began to rain down punches and elbows before finally scoring the mount. From here Boku continued to employ Cageforce's regulation elbows to his pinned opponent until the referee called a stop to the action at the 2:33 mark of the first. Boku is now slated to face an as of yet undetermined seeded fighter in the quarterfinals.

Eiji Mitsuoka (Pictures) had a real back-and-forth battle with Brain Cobb. Most of the damage that the fighter's inflicted on each other was from trading on the feet and knees and elbows from clinching at the fence. Just as it looked like one guy was close to snubbing his opponent out and finishing the fight, the other guy would rally back and turn the tables.

Mitsuoka had a decent heelhook attempt in the first, but Cobb escaped moments later scored the takedown to reach side control.

Both continued to land good elbows and knees in the clinch all the way to the third. The beginning of the end happened when Mitsuoka landed a hard kick to his opponent's body. Immediately after the impact Cobb went for a shot. Mitsuoka managed to avoid the takedown attempt, jumping up on his now standing opponent and applying a tight guillotine.

Unfortunately for Cobb, his right arm was trapped under Mitsuoka's leg, making it impossible for him to defend the technique and forcing a tap at the 1:39 mark.

Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures) really controlled all aspects of his fight against Hawaiian Kaynan Kaku (Pictures). The Russian displayed excellent timing with his strikes, often catching Kaku as he was coming in. Oumakhanov's Greco-Roman takedowns were excellent and he maintained dominant ground control at all times, pressing with hard punches from the top.

Oumakhanov continued to score unanswered punches from the top in the second round until the referee stopped the fight at the 3:57 mark.

The Russian is now slated to face Wataru Miki (Pictures), who advanced to the quarterfinals by besting Yasuyoshi Kanehara (Pictures) last month in Cageforce's Tattori show.

Wataru Takahashi (Pictures) was all about the takedown in his battle against In Seok Kim (Pictures), often going for the shot on the Korean fighter. Kim sprawled well in the first, but by the second round Takahashi had his opponent on his back. From here he maintained strong ground control, eventually scoring the mount. Takahashi rained down punches and elbows from atop his opponent until the referee stopped the action at the 3:06 mark.

Tomonari Kanomata (Pictures) made extremely quick work of 18-year-old Australian Jacob Sidic. The Shooto and Cage Warriors veteran rushed in off the opening bell and decked Sidic with right hand, sending the young Aussie to the mat. From here Kanomata followed with punches until the referee called for an end to the fight at just the nine-second mark of the first.
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