Sunday Blog: Knockouts and More

May 10, 2009

Putting ‘Tradition’ to Bed
By Jordan Breen ([email protected])
Sunday, 10:15 p.m. ET: I've written a lot of news stories since I began covering MMA. However, I'm not sure any bit of reporting -- whether a perfunctory blurb or exclusive news feature -- made me as truly, genuinely happy to write as when I penned a piece last June about Shooto officials deciding to abandon their archaic, long-outmoded knockdown rule which for so long had poisoned great pro Shooto bouts.

The abhorrent count was formally removed this past January, and since, there have been approximately a dozen-and-a-half international pro Shooto events, and the obvious results have been sensational. Take for example March's sensational 123-pound world title bout between champion Shinichi Kojima and challenger Yuki Shoujou, in which Kojima engineered a stirring, synthetic, MMA-in-all-ways finish by dropping Shoujou with a sharp knee to the body, and hitting a lightning fast transition to back control and choking his challenger out cold. A year ago, this highlight reel chain of events could never have happened.

However, pro Shooto may not be done with issues of protocol. To be sure, today's "Shooto Tradition Final" was a great event, but, it revealed that a major hurdle for pro Shooto can often be the refereeing itself.

Last week, in the build-up to this very event, I wrote at length about the brilliance and importance of Shooto referee and administrative official Taro Wakabayashi. If we ever run a Time Magazine-style list enumerating people in MMA based on importance, influence and contribution, I would rally strongly for this man to be given a lofty spot, as he has played a major role in the growth of MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu in Japan as an administrator of Shooto and co-founder of the Paraestra network. His brilliant architecture of Shooto's sophisticated amateur system is a direct contributor in the development of a huge chunk of Japan's top fighters over the last decade. However, I must confess to not preferring him as a referee.

The stoppage in the Kotetsu Boku-Yutaka Ueda fight was tolerable at best. However, for Wakabayashi to have handed Mitsuhiro Ishida a loss against Mizuto Hirota soured me considerably. It was everything I've already whined and moaned about in my polarizing "The Offense of Intelligent Defense" editorial earlier this year. Fighters who go down hard, and struggle to regain posture under the hail of short-range, grazing, barely effective punches do not need rescuing. Let fighters decide fights, especially one with major career implications for each fighter, like Hirota-Ishida.

Part of me wants to say that Wakabayashi just needs time to acclimate, especially given that in his first refereeing event back from a leg injury last month, he accidentally almost paused a bout between Yusuke Yachi and Kenichiro Marui due to a knockdown. However, I don't believe it's that simple. Maybe he's been conditioned into conservatism because of the fact he routinely deals with less experienced fighters because he referees literally hundreds if not thousands of amateur Shooto bouts per year. Whatever the case, for all his genius behind the scenes, Wakabayashi has had a long history of dismaying protectionism, including unceremonious, premature stoppages (both on the feet, no less) of two of pro Shooto's greatest recent slugfests, Takeya Mizugaki-Kenji Osawa and Hiroyuki Takaya-Antonio Carvalho.

Here's hoping with the "Shooto Tradition" series now in the books, this tradition gets put to bed, as well.

Kojima, Ueda Eye Title Defenses in Shooto
By Tony Loiseleur ([email protected])
Sunday, 12:01 p.m. ET: Shooto 123- and 132-pound champions Shinichi "BJ" Kojima and Masakatsu Ueda will defend their respective championships this summer, the promotion announced on Sunday at JCB Hall in Tokyo.

Though Kojima’s opponent has not yet been determined, he will put his belt on the line in August. The 30-year-old Kojima last appeared in March, when the world’s top-ranked flyweight submitted Yuki Shoujou with a rear-naked choke at Shooto “Tradition 6.”

Ueda (9-0-2), meanwhile, will make his next title defense against Eduardo Dantas on July 19. The unbeaten 31-year-old has not competed since he bested So Tazawa by unanimous decision two months ago. Ueda’s last six fights have gone the distance.

In addition, Shooto officials announced the return of the Vale Tudo Japan series, which will make its first appearance in almost a decade this fall.

Video: Yahir Reyes KOs Estevan Payan at Bellator
By Mike Fridley ([email protected])

Sunday, 4:00 a.m. ET: OK, I won't lie. I was totally going to title this post "Knockout of the Year." Just last week, we ran another amazing finish from Bellator, and this one is just as good. Watch as Yahir Reyes blasts Estevan Payan with a spinning-back fist.

It's tough to hand out awards in back-to-back weeks, but this mugging deserves all attention it will surely get. And for the record, this is the best knockout I have seen this year.

Bulgaria, Russia Legion, Brazil Chalk Up Victories at M-1 Challenge
By Loretta Hunt ([email protected])
Photo Courtesy: M-1
Sunday, 3:20 a.m. ET: Team Brazil rallied from an unsuccessful February debut to sweep Team Imperial (Russia) at M-1 Challenge Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

IFL veteran Eduardo Pamplona, the sole fighter not to be replaced on the Brazilian roster, led his rejuvenated squad with a majority decision over welterweight Erik Oganov.

Team Bulgaria also edged out Team Benelux with a 3-2 tally.

Team Russia Legion found victory in four of its five bouts against Team Germany. Middleweight Gregor Herb clinched the lone victory for his side by submitting Sergey Kornev with an armbar at 4:32 of round one.

Continue Reading » Bulgaria, Russia Legion, Brazil Chalk Up Victories at M-1 Challenge

Shooto Play-by-Play: Gomi vs. Nakakura
By Jordan Breen ([email protected])
Sunday, 3:00 a.m. ET: Over the last three days, I've been besieged with an surprising amount of email from readers and radio listeners asking how they can watch today's Shooto 20th Anniversary event, by hook or by crook.

Proving democracy isn't dead, even in the world of MMA, has you covered with full and exhaustive (which believe me, Tony Loiseleur's are) play-by-play of all the Shooto action from tonight's 20th Anniversary soiree. You can even check out the official Shooto 20th Anniversary event discussion thread on the Sherdog forums, if you want to risk the MMA elitists calling you horrible, nasty things.

Check the blog all day for more entries.

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