Oumakhanov Claims Cage Force Tourney

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Dec 1, 2007
TOKYO, Dec. 1 -- Cage Force's yearlong lightweight and welterweight tournaments concluded at Differ Ariake in the promotion's final show in 2007.

When the tournaments began in March, they looked tailor-made for the fighters of the Killer Bee gym. However, in Saturday's lightweight finale, SK Absolute Russia's Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures) took a hard-earned split decision over Killer Bee's Koutetsu Boku (Pictures) after a three-round war.

Despite tumbling into side-mount from the clinch in the opening moments of the first round, Boku unwisely chose to transition to the full mount while Oumakhanov was still controlling the Japanese fighter's head. This allowed Oumakhanov to bridge and reverse position into Boku's guard.

Several shoulders to the face later, Oumakhanov brought the fight back to the feet, where he offered up hard counter hooks to an engaging and forward-moving Boku. Despite controlling the cage and stalking his opponent, it was Boku who found himself on the receiving end of most of the round's strikes. He ate a hard spinning back kick and suffered a cut over his right eye toward the end of the round.

The second stanza saw much of the same. Boku continued to control the cage but still found himself in the unsavory position of eating a barrage of hard counterpunches when he pressed forward to attack. Though Boku momentarily caught the Russian's back in the clinch and subsequently on the canvas, Oumakhanov soon reversed position by forcefully twisting his way into Boku's guard.

Boku then attempted to lock Oumakhanov in the rubber guard, but he failed to adequately secure him, and the sambo stylist simply stood out of the attempt. A break called by the referee shortly thereafter led to Boku finally starting to come through on the feet. He scored with a number of punches while Oumakhanov countered with wild, aimless hooks before the horn.

Moments into the third period, Oumakhanov opened with a stinging low kick before faking a superman punch that distracted Boku long enough for the Russian to land into a double-leg takedown that put the Killer Bee against the cage in guard. As in the second, Boku attempted the rubber guard, and again, Oumakhanov stood out of it, only to find his opponent quickly following him back to the feet.

With his back to the cage, Boku engaged in a tit-for-tat exchange of decapitating hooks that elicited raucous applause from those in attendance. A visibly fatigued Oumakhanov then opted to employ more takedown attempts from that point forward, as it became apparent that Boku's standup offerings were beginning to edge out his own.

Though Oumakhanov succeeded twice in taking down his Japanese foe and controlled him from top position for the remainder of the round, he did little to attack or finish the fight or make a definitive statement with strikes.

Overall, despite being stalked on the feet, Oumakhanov scored the majority of the damage and also largely controlled his opponent in the grappling department. As a result, Oumakhanov was deemed the victor when two judges ruled in his favor for the split decision, crowning him the Cage Force lightweight tournament winner.

The other half of the evening's main attraction, the welterweight tournament final, did not reach such a definitive conclusion, however.

Instead, the bout ended when an errant kick from Dan Hardy (Pictures) four seconds into round two hit Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Pictures) below the belt. After an audibly loud pop, Yoshida was rolling on the canvas in pain while a distressed Hardy stood near, apologizing profusely to Yoshida and his corner. For the second straight Cage Force, GCM's rules director, Gen Isono, stepped into the cage to explain the circumstances of the bout's ending, declaring Yoshida the winner by disqualification.

The bout up to that point largely favored Yoshida. The Japanese fighter dominated the majority of the first round on account of superior grappling, scoring a solid trip takedown early, followed by a picturesque hip throw into side-mount, followed then by back mount.

Yoshida's grappling success came by way of him charging forward and clinching in the opening moments of the first, which he looked to replicate in the second. The difference in the second round, however, was that during his forward charge, a miscalculated low kick from Hardy struck Yoshida in the groin and put him out of commission for the evening.

Be that as it may, it is curious that Yoshida was declared the winner, given previous in-cage mishaps. Occurring as recently as the last Cage Force, when an unintentional head butt from Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures) saw him take a technical decision over opponent Tomonari Kanomata (Pictures), Hardy's low blow can likewise be argued as unintentional, with consequences similar to the Oumakhanov-Kanomata head butt. That being said, it is curious why Cage Force decided to disqualify Hardy for an unintentional foul but award Oumakhanov a win.

In another example of peculiar judging at a Cage Force event, Shooto bantamweight contender Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures) drew with game and scrappy newcomer Jesse Taitano in an exciting three-round affair.

Urushitani arguably pulled ahead in the standup department for the latter two rounds. To his credit, the relatively green Taitano had power in his hands that even a slick standup artist like Urushitani was forced to respect, as Taitano floored him in the first with a vicious right hook.

The knockdown was apparently what Urushitani needed to wake up, however. From that point forward, the Shootor pulled out the stops, employing his technical savvy on the feet to full effect. Playing matador by controlling the center of the cage, Urushitani made certain to pick his shots after Taitano's bull rushes, and he marked up the Guamanian with a barrage of stinging right jabs and hooks.

Urushitani turned up the heat in rounds two and three, adding in flying knees and knees from the Thai plum, though Taitano defended them well. Still, only one judge saw fit to award Urushitani the nod while the remaining two judges voted for neither, ruling the bout a majority draw.

Mizuto Hirota (Pictures) made extremely quick work of Korea's Do Gi Sin, knocking him out at a mere 16 seconds into the first round in their lightweight bout. Starting the round with a cleanly connecting left hook, right straight combo that rocked Sin, Hirota opened up the floodgates then, plowing through the Korean with a flurry of punches that put him flat against the cage and forced the referee to call the bout.

Despite attempting to engage Kenji Osawa (Pictures) on the feet in the first, tall and rangy "Punchie" Nobuhiro Yamauchi soon changed tactics upon sampling Osawa's standup offerings. He tried covering up and retreating whenever Osawa threatened to bowl him over with punch combinations, but he still caved under Osawa's pressure in every instance.

Eventually Yamauchi crumbled into guard, where Osawa picked his shots and hammered out "Punchie" for the duration of the bout. With Yamauchi having very little offense to show in his favor, Osawa dominated both rounds and took the unanimous decision.

Shooto's 2005 rookie MVP Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) notched another win in his Cage Force run, this time blitzing hopelessly outmatched "OZ" Seiji Otsuka (Pictures) for a unanimous decision after two rounds.

Charging in with a flurry of punches to start both rounds, Mizugaki pressured OZ to the canvas, where he relentlessly punched from the top position on a constantly scrambling but hapless Otsuka. Despite Otsuka's constant attempts to shift and transition for submission attempts from the bottom, the unyielding Mizugaki was there at every juncture, ready to greet Otsuka with a punch to the face.

"ISE" Toshikazu Iseno (Pictures) drew with Takahito Iida (Pictures) in an entertaining two-round war that saw both men arguably taking a round apiece.

Iseno was armed with a quick and hard right straight that connected throughout, but the tough Purebred fighter's kryptonite appeared to be Iida's hard low right kicks, which Iseno repeatedly ate unchecked. Though Iseno appeared to want to play the bully in the standup department, all it did was apparently anger Iida, who charged right back at his opponent and overwhelmed him with standup combinations that let him gain top position in both rounds. With a dominant first round performance by Iseno, though, both men appeared to take a round apiece, resulting in a unanimous draw.

Controlling the majority of the round from Takenori Sato (Pictures)'s guard, Yukiya Naito (Pictures) almost let the win slip when Sato managed to catch him in a tight guillotine. Defending the submission apparently sapped just enough energy from Naito to allow Sato to pound away from the back mount, almost prompting a referee stop.

Through sheer force of will, however, Naito brought himself back to standing, where he traded bombs with Sato and opened a cut over Sato's nose for the doctor stoppage at 4:45 into the first round.

In the evening's preliminary bouts, Seiya Kawahara beat up Hiroshi Arakawa with good standup combinations and a persistent left hook for a two-round unanimous decision; Junichi Ota played a smart, technical game to defeat Hirofumi Takita by unanimous decision; and Daisuke Endo dominated Hiroyuki Kuwahara for a ground-and-pound victory 2:52 into the first.
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