Hatsu Hioki (above, top) returns to Shooto on April 29. | Photo: Taro Irei
World-ranked featherweight and current Shooto 143-pound champion Hatsu Hioki will return to the promotion which spawned him when he faces streaking King of the Cage bantamweight champ Donald Sanchez in a non-title affair at “Shooto Tradition 2011.”
Shooto on Saturday announced the addition of the three-round bout to the event, which takes place April 29 at JCB Hall in Tokyo. Also made official was Shooto 132-pound world champion Shuichiro Katsumura’s first title defense against once-beaten Koetsu Okazaki.
Hioki earned his long-desired Shooto gold in a May 2010 split-decision thriller with then-titleholder “Lion” Takeshi Inoue. The 27-year-old “Iron Broomstick” was last seen on Dec. 30, when he put on a masterful performance at “Soul of Fight” to take Marlon Sandro’s Sengoku Raiden Championship featherweight strap.
A product of Fit NHB, Sanchez enters the highest-profile bout of his five-year MMA career on a seven-fight win streak. Sanchez unified his KOTC interim belt with Angelo Sanchez’s KOTC bantamweight championship in May 2010 and has since twice defended, notching first-round submission wins against Pat McGreal and Scott Bear.
Meanwhile, a previously announced title bout between Shooto 115-pound world champion Rambaa “M-16” Somdet and Junji Ito has been reshuffled.
Originally slated for April 1, the match was postponed in early March after Somdet suffered a foot injury in training. This time, Shooto announced Saturday in a statement, a partially torn left bicep has forced the Thai national to vacate his title.
Ito will now square off against 10-year Shooto vet Junji Ikoma for the vacant 115-pound belt, with Somdet awaiting the winner once his injury heals.