Sandro Beats Takita to Become Featherweight KOP

Oct 26, 2008
TOKYO -- Pancrase moved one step closer Sunday to filling all of its vacant titles as Marlon Sandro became the second featherweight King of Pancrase with a close decision over Masaya Takita.

The undefeated Sandro, coming off a retirement-inducing bout over Miki Shida, quickly established control in the first round. He threw crisp one-twos from the outside and controlled the center of the ring. The eccentric Takita, a Wajyutsu Keisyukai Tokyo rep who sported half of a pair of spats, employed an alternative angle on a striking game, stomping at Sandro's feet consistently during the clinch and throwing spinning backfists wherever possible.

Just as Sandro looked to have found his range in the second, he ran headfirst into a brutal spinning backfist that sent him reeling to the mat. Takita followed the Brazilian down, but his attacks were thwarted when Sandro recovered and gained control of Takita's back. Here, Sandro wisely chose to clear his head and even up the round with hammerfists from the back.

The final round was again close. Takita scored with an array of unorthodox strikes, but Sandro's textbook straights generally outdid him. After three rounds, two of the judges saw it for Sandro with one scoring it a draw, giving Sandro the strap on a majority decision.

In another close encounter, featherweights Kenji Arai and Tashiro Akai gave the judges more work. The fourth-ranked Arai was amassing a handy lead courtesy of effective striking from the outside until Akai found the piece to solve Arai's puzzle and hammered his bandaged leg with low kicks.

Arai was eventually forced to go for the takedown to halt the damage. Akai was game on the mat, though, and after wearing his fair share of leather, he snuck in an armbar from guard that required some slick timing on behalf of Arai to escape.

The final round was again too close to call. After losing the first half of the round, Akai locked up a kimura from guard that didn’t finish Arai but did shut him down. The series of comebacks throughout the fight made it impossible to separate the pair, as one judge saw it even and both fighters got a nod each for a split draw.

Interim welterweight king Takuya Wada was well on the way to a comfortable decision over Pancraseism's Masahiro Toryu until Toryu suddenly started to find his range, giving the veteran trouble with strikes up and down the body. After two rounds it was again too hard to separate them, and the judges ruled the bout a majority draw.

The always-aggressive Yukio Sakaguchi evened up his record when he put the more experienced Yuichi Ikari to sleep only 21 seconds in. A hook that landed clean on the jaw followed by hammerfists from the side did the job, and Ikari was taken out on a stretcher.

Takaichi Hirayama was relegated to grappling dummy in an exhibition of control put on by Takafumi Ito. Getting his first win in almost two years, Ito was clearly much stronger. He controlled the fight with his relentless wrestling and snuck in ground-and-pound from every angle to get the nod for both rounds from all three judges.

As part of the welterweight tournament to get a shot at interim champ Takuya Wada, Asaki Honda's attempt at an outside trip to heel hook to omoplata was a highlight of the night. He wasn't able to keep it up in the second, however, as Hiroyuki Nozawa overwhelmed him with a diverse striking arsenal. All three judges agreed that Nozawa would advance to the finals.

In the first bout in the welterweight tournament, Tomoyoshi Iwamiya did just enough to get a vote from the judges against Kiichi Kunimoto. Little notable action occurred for the majority of the bout, save for a point deduction from both fighters for lack of aggression. Although all three judges initially scored the bout a draw, the fight was a tournament bout and a winner needed to be chosen. Two late takedowns did the trick for Iwamiya.

Iwamiya and Nozawa will square off in December, and the winner of that encounter will meet Wada in the spring for the title.

Takuya Eizumi and Takayuki Hirayasu looked to be even, but a right hook from Eizumi in the second round rocked Hirayasu. Ultimately the cut Eizumi opened up on his foe forced the stoppage at 1:55.

Wataru Takahashi and Hiroshi Tanaka fought an entertaining back-and-forth ground battle that was rightly ruled yet another draw.
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