Hiromasa Ogikubo, Czar Sklavos Advance to Flyweight Tourney Final at VTJ 5th

By James Goyder Jun 28, 2014
In a week where Vale Tudo Japan made headlines with a newly signed UFC partnership, the Japanese promotion also brought its show to Osaka for the semifinals of its ongoing 125-pound tournament.

“VTJ 5th in Osaka” took place Saturday at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, marking the organization’s first foray outside the Greater Tokyo Area. The main winners on the night were Hiromasa Ogikubo and Czar Sklavos, who booked their spots in the flyweight tourney final.

Ogikubo preserved Japanese pride by ensuring at least one local fighter reached the final phase of the competition when he submitted Kana Hyatt with a rear-naked choke early in the opening round.

After a brief exchange of leg kicks, the former Shooto 132-pound champion shot for a double-leg takedown which the Hawaiian was able to stuff. Ogikubo cleverly transitioned to take Hyatt’s back, drag him to the canvas and force the tap at the 1:20 mark.

In the second semifinal, Sklavos put on a virtuoso striking display to dominate Ryuichi Miki, who seemed to rapidly run out of ideas as he was picked apart by the American’s constant punch output and quick-fire combinations.

Miki never looked comfortable in the stand-up exchanges against a faster, taller opponent. When he did try to get the fight to the floor, Miki was frustrated by the American, who was able to easily shrug off his telegraphed takedown attempts.

Perhaps sensing he was behind on the scorecards, Miki made an aggressive start to the final round, but he couldn’t sustain the momentum. Sklavos, who sustained a nasty cut which might have been caused by a clash of heads, appeared on the verge of finishing the fight with a rear-naked choke when the bell sounded. The scorecards were a foregone conclusion, with all three judges seeing the bout in Sklavos’ favor.

Ogikubo and Sklavos will meet in the tournament final at VTJ 6th, scheduled for Oct. 4 in Tokyo.

The card was headlined by a fight which was of particular interest to the Osaka audience because it featured hometown hero Teruto Ishihara, who took on Korean debutant Jung Hwan Jo in a bantamweight bout. Given the disparity in experience between the headliners, the outcome was somewhat predictable, with Ishihara picking up the pace in round two and finishing the fight with punches at the 2:28 mark. However, it was a brave performance from the Korean who did manage to score with the occasional straight right.

Earlier in the night, veteran featherweight Takumi Nakayama returned to Japanese competition after a two-fight stint with the Guam-based Pacific Xtreme Combat. The 40-year-old scored a submission victory over Wataru Miki, taking his opponent down and securing a rear-naked choke, with the tap coming at 2:29 of round two.

In other results: Yusaku Nakamura scored a unanimous decision win over Kenji Yamamoto in a bantamweight bout; Junya Kodo submitted Hidenobu Izena with a guillotine choke at 1:25 of round three in another bantamweight fight; Tsuneo Kimura squeezed past Kazunari Majima with a split decision in a catchweight contest; and Akira Takano beat Takaaki when their featherweight fight was stopped after one round due to a cut.

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