Maeda and Kim Are Equals in Osaka

Dec 22, 2007
OSAKA, Dec. 22 -- DEEP closed out the year at Umeda Stella Hall in Osaka with an enormous 31-bout card which featured a tag team grappling tournament, kickboxing matches, a South Korea vs. Japan MMA series, and was headlined by a clash of ranked featherweights in Pancrase champion Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures) and South Korean Jong Man Kim (Pictures).

The talented Maeda, who has gone 3-0 this year, is perhaps best known by fans for his two ill-fated bouts in PRIDE. Prone to losing to fighters perceived to be less talented than himself, Maeda's dubious distinction as a choke artist played a key role in the intrigue of the bout.

On the other hand, Jong Man Kim (Pictures) has quickly found himself amongst the sport's top featherweights. After nearly upsetting Masakazu Imanari (Pictures) in August, he took a shocking split decision over highly regarded Hatsu Hioki (Pictures) in Hioki's hometown of Nagoya in October to emerge as one of South Korea's best up-and-coming fighters.

Both fighters looked for a finish early in striking exchanges. Maeda asserted himself first, both with ground and pound, and with kicks up and down the body. Kim was a constant threat, swinging his right hand while wearing a huge grin on his face, reflecting the enjoyment of both fighters in the ring.

Looking to change the tempo of the high paced bout, Maeda secured a throw from the clinch, but instantly found himself locked in a tight guillotine choke. Unable to escape the guillotine, Maeda looked to be done as he rolled to his back, giving Kim the mount, with the choke still in tight. After what seemed an eternity, Maeda managed to escape the deep-sunk choke by slipping an arm through the locked hands of Kim, and rolling into side control.

In the second frame, the action was largely on the feet, with both fighters again aiming for the one-strike KO. For a stretch, the two constantly crossed with simultaneous strikes, almost to the point of comedy. Maeda emerged as the more effective fighter as his kicks began to find their target once again. Clearly enjoying the match, both fighters mimicked each other's fighting poses, and touched gloves repeatedly throughout the round.

In the final round, it was clear that the two were fighting on very even ground. For every strike each fighter gave, one was taken in return, although neither man was able to land with enough power to finish. Kim asserted himself late, looking to steal a close round with a successful flurry that sent Maeda back into the ropes before the final bell rang.

All three judges saw the two men as fighting equals and scored it as such. While Maeda averted potential disaster, the bout raises Kim from the status of one punch underdog. With further development and refining, the South Korean slugger may make even bigger waves in the future.

Also in the Japan vs. South Korea three-fight series, Seichi Ikemoto (Pictures) offered the inexperienced So Do Won far more than he could handle.

At the outset, Ikemoto reversed a throw, stomping and punching the Korean from above. Won caught an errant stomp, and went for a heel hook that Ikemoto defended successfully and then countered with a heel hook of his own. That heel hook was good enough to earn Ikemoto a first round submission in what was more of a showcase bout for the oddly popular Osaka fighter, who needed the win after a fairly pedestrian year.

The opening bout in the Japan-South Korea series saw Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) student Ryuichi Murata (Pictures), fresh off his October Spirit MC tournament win, taking on an overmatched Kim Ho Jin.

The Japanese judoka looked solid as expected, quickly getting a throw and landing in scarf position, where he pounded the Jin's undefended skull. Unable to escape for some time, Jin eventually managed to maneuver enough room to attempt an ill-fated armbar while being beaten from North-South position. Murata easily converted the submission into one of his own, getting a tap via armbar at 3:38 of the first round.

The aforementioned Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) silently entered the venue to sit ringside for his pupil's bout and afterward, left in the same fashion.

At the end of the night, the home side took the Japan-South Korea series 2-0-1.

DEEP 106-pound female champion Miku Matsumoto (Pictures) seemed to have brought three quarters of the crowd with her for her bout against MMA novice Wenton Sakrungruang. Sakrungruang came into the bout with 38 Muay Thai bouts and multiple titles, but Miku took the fight to her early.

After an aggressive flurry of punches, nearly all of which landed, Miku threw the Thai hard to the canvas and quickly transitioned to an armbar for the win in only 43 seconds. Unfortunately, Sakrungruang, who didn't tap out, looked to have sustained injury to her arm as a result of the hold.

Going 3-0 in the last six months, local Osakan Ken Hamamura (Pictures) never really got it going against Hiroki Nagaoka (Pictures). Nagaoka scored takedown after takedown and all the tired-looking Hamamura had to offer was a faux-rubber guard that served only to tie Nagaoka up, rather than threaten with any kind of submission. Nagaoka had an easy night and took the decision unanimously after two rounds.

Tomoyuki Fukami (Pictures) improved upon his solid record with a second round submission over Akihiko Mori (Pictures). Fukami had it easy the whole bout, dropping his opponent early and controlling from the top with strikes for the majority of the fight. Fukami transitioned from back control into an arm triangle choke to secure the victory at 1:43 of the second round.

Former DEEP Future King ace Yukinari Tamura (Pictures) looked impressive in his cut stoppage of veteran Naoki Matsushita (Pictures). In the second round, Tamura turned it up with jabs and body kicks, before landing a glancing knee off a takedown attempt that opened a large cut on top of Matsushita's head. The doctor was unable to stem the flow of blood and called a stop to the bout at 3:46 of the second round.

Motoyuki Takinishi (Pictures) bested Toru Harai with strikes on the feet and the ground to earn a well-fought decision. Takinishi was very accurate with his ground and pound, landing with everything he threw en route to the two-round unanimous decision.

Former All Japan amateur Shooto champion Yusuke Sakashita (Pictures) stopped Taiki Yonashiro in impressive fashion. In the second round, Sakashita got a slick double leg after ducking a right hook, and finished with punches from the mount.

Takahiro Kajita (Pictures) was lucky in some respects and not in others against 2007 Shooto rookie champion Hiroshi Shiba. The deciding factor in the bout came in the first round, when Shiba kneed Kajita low on two separate occasions, and was given a yellow card. Shiba, who sustained a low blow in the fight himself, constantly clinched and held on against the strong striker, and both fighters seemed afraid to get carded for another groin strike. Therefore, most of the fight involved both fighters just standing there, and in the end, Kajita won a majority decision.

Despite his mediocre record, Isao Terada (Pictures) has power to spare, and Nobuhiro Yoshitake found this out the hard way. As Yoshitake was getting the upper hand with his strikes, Terada landed with a knee that sent a disgusting echo through the event hall. Yoshitake was out on the canvas for some time and had no recollection of the fight afterwards.

Cross-dressing Kyoto native Kousuke Eda (Pictures) defeated Takashi Hasegawa (Pictures), after entering the ring in his trademark lace dress, festively dressed as a reindeer. Eda came close to stopping Hasegawa in the first after he dropped him with a flurry of punches and followed up with ground and pound. Hasegawa showed solid wrestling, but not much else, as Eda took a unanimous decision after two rounds.

Hidehira Yabu got his first win with a dominant striking display against Junichi Nakahira. Yabu opened up a cut in the first round and took Nakahira out of the match in the second with his ground and pound, en route to a unanimous decision.

In the finals of the entertaining tag team grappling tournament, Team PUREBRED Kyoto, comprised of Shooto competitors Takuya Sato (Pictures) and Yasuaki Nagamoto, won a split decision over Masashi Kameda and Sotaro Debana of Dokonjonosuke Mishima (Pictures)'s Team Cobra Kai.
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