Inoue Wins Title, Nakakura Defends in Shooto

By Jason Nowe and Stephen Martinez Nov 8, 2007
TOKYO, Nov. 8 -- Leading Shooto promoter Sustain held its biggest show of the year at the Yoyogi Number 2 Gymnasium, featuring two Pacific Rim title fights along with a host of other bouts that affected the Shooto rankings.

In the main event, former Shooto lightweight champion Takeshi "Lion" Inoue faced veteran Katsuya Toida (Pictures) for the vacant lightweight Pacific Rim title.

Toida could be best described as Shooto's version of the ever-eccentric Masakazu Imanari (Pictures). He displays the same bizarre antics as the DEEP featherweight champion: keeps his hands low, circles the ring during the fight as if his opponent weren't there, baseball slides and jumps up in the air for no apparent reason other than to bewilder his opposition.

As strange and entertaining as these theatrics may be, Toida paid for them against Inoue, who put him down for a mandatory-eight count just as the bizarre fighter was rushing in at the end of the first round.

Inoue displayed a pretty good sprawl early, but eventually the very unorthodox Toida got him to the ground several times through a combination of pulling guard and twisting for sweeps. Once on the mat, Toida pulled another page out of Imanari's book by constantly going for leg submissions. However, Inoue managed to twist and scurry back to his feet each time before Toida could lock on a technique.

Inoue continued to pick away at his opponent on the feet in the third round, and Toida scrambled for leg submissions on the ground. In the last 20 seconds of the fight, Inoue took Toida's back off a failed throw and locked on a rear-naked choke. The eccentric fighter acted as if he weren't worried at all, though, tucking his chin and barely even trying to work out of the technique.

Toida was definitely the busier of the two on the ground, but "Lion Takeshi" saw through his opponent's smoke and mirrors. Inoue landed by far the cleaner punches and kicks on the feet, and in the end he walked away with the unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 and 29-27) and the Pacific Rim Lightweight belt.

In the other championship fight, Pacific Rim welterweight champion Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) made his first title defense against Gokita Gym's Yusuke Endo (Pictures).

After some initial jousting, Nakakura sent Endo to the mat for a standing-eight count with a well-timed left hand. Despite this seemingly disastrous start, Endo found his stride, escaping a kimura and working to top position.

Nakakura scored the takedowns in the second, and the third saw the Shooting Gym Osaka fighter work all the way to the mount. Endo twisted in an attempt to escape, but he gave Nakakura his back in the process and was forced to defend the rear-naked choke. Toward the end of the round, Nakakura again had the mount, but this time Endo pulled off a slick escape and threw down punches until the final bell.

The bout went to the judges, and Nakakura won the unanimous decision.

In perhaps the most exciting fight of the night, No. 1-ranked Shooto lightweight Antonio Carvalho (Pictures) took on K-1 HERO'S veteran Hiroyuki Takaya (Pictures).

This one was a real back-and-forth stand-up war, not once hitting the mat. Just when it seemed one fighter had the advantage, the other would come roaring back with the leather to even things up. Carvalho moved well, slipping punches and throwing lightening fast kicks, and Takaya secured several Thai clinches that let him connect with knees.

This bout was fairly even until the end of the second round. After taking some shots, Carvalho stormed back with punches, opening a cut around Takaya's left eye. The Japanese fighter was directed to the ring doctor, where after a check it was ruled he could continue. The fight restarted, and at the very last second of the round, Takaya connected with a vicious right hand that dropped Carvalho for a standing-eight count.

Carvalho came out punching in the third, but the effects of the knockdown may still have been with him as Takaya scored with a hard series of punches. Seeing that his opponent was in trouble, Takaya followed with knees before opening up with another series of punches at the ropes that Carvalho had no answer for. The referee rushed in to stop the fight at 1:58, giving Takaya the TKO victory.

In his Shooto debut, Cage Force veteran Eiji Mitsuoka (Pictures) had a strong first round against former PRIDE fighter Joachim Hansen (Pictures), maintaining top position and raining down punches. But the second round brought a complete change in momentum. The Norwegian fighter came rushing out, quickly scored the takedown and began to pound from the top.

However, the second wasn't all good for the "Hellboy," as Mitsuoka slapped on a very strong guillotine from his back. For a few moments it looked as if the Japanese fighter was incredibly close to a victory, but Hansen dug deep and escaped the technique to the amazement of the crowd.

Hansen again connected with punches and scored the takedown in the third, then briefly secured the mount. Mitsuoka scored a reversal as Hansen worked for an arm triangle, only to see the Norwegian put him to his back again a few moments later. For the rest of the round, Hansen passed to the side, threw diving punches and hammered his downed opponent's legs.

This bout looked pretty even. One of the judges indeed saw it that way, but unfortunately for Hansen the other two did not, giving Mitsuoka the majority decision (29-29, 29-28 twice).

Since winning the Shooto bantamweight title against Mamoru Yamaguchi (Pictures) a little more than a year ago, Shinichi "BJ" Kojima hasn't had a stellar reign. He was extremely fortunate to keep his title in his lackluster bout against Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures), and he beat Yasuhiro Akagi (Pictures) via a nasty ear cut.

No doubt the champion was looking for a little redemption in his non-title bout against 18-year-old Brazilian Eduardo Dantas. Yet redemption wasn't to be found.

Dantas used his considerable reach advantage extremely well against Kojima, connecting several good right hands at a distance and throwing some good flying knees. Kojima just couldn't get past the lanky fighter's defense and even had a hard time shooting in for Dantas' long legs.

On the ground Kojima worked for some armbar and triangle attempts from his back, but Dantas saw them coming and escaped before they could be fully applied. Perhaps the clincher for Dantas came toward the end of the third round when he slapped on a very strong arm triangle attempt. Kojima had to struggle and strain for quite a long time before he could escape the technique, but once free he didn't have enough time to make up the points that he was behind. As a result, Dantas earned the big upset victory.

Megumi Fujii (Pictures) again showed why she is considered to be one of the top female fighters in the world. The AACC fighter's fists were like lightening against Kyoko Takabayashi (Pictures), putting together crushing combos and following up with takedowns.

On the ground "Mega Megu" rained down punches, stood up and then kicked the legs of her downed opponent. At no time during this match was she ever in any danger. Fujii took the unanimous victory, keeping her undefeated record intact.

Former muay Thai champion Rambaa "M-16" Somdet continued his winning ways in Shooto. He made a punching bag out of Masaaki Sugawara (Pictures) in an essentially one-sided affair. Not content to only pound his opponent on the feet, Somdet also went for takedowns and threw hard ground punches.

By the end of two rounds, Sugawara had taken too much punishment to answer the bell for the third, giving Somdet the TKO victory.

Brazilian Leandro "Batata" Silva pounded his way to a decision over Masashi Yozen (Pictures).

Shintaro Ishiwatari (Pictures) also defeated Hayate Usui (Pictures) by unanimous decision after two rounds.
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