Taiki Tsuchiya (top) vs. Gustavo Falciroli : Taro Irei | Sherdog.com
TOKYO – Rumina Sato’s top pupil, Taiki Tsuchiya, successfully defended his Shooto 143-pound Pacific Rim championship for the first time against Australian-based Brazilian Gustavo Falciroli in the main event of Friday's “The Way of Shooto 6: Like a Tiger, Like a Dragon” at Korakuen Hall.
Falciroli made it clear that he sought to take the bout down, capturing Tsuchiya's back midway through the first period and liberally working rubber guard throughout the bout. However, the fight tipped in the champ's favor in the second stanza. Foiling the challenger's attempts to tie him up in the rubber guard, Tsuchiya postured and dropped blistering punches on Falciroli to close out the round.
The champion put his stamp on the fight in the third frame, as Tsuchiya pushed forward with big flurries, forcing Falciroli to dive for weak takedowns. Tsuchiya stuffed Falciroli and resumed raining punishment from above. In the final scramble, Tsuchiya attained mount and attempted to pull out the armbar finish as the final gong sounded.
Judges Kosuke Watanabe and Toshiharu Suzuki scored the bout 30-26, while judge Tadashi Yokoyama scored it 30-27, all for Tsuchiya.
“If I were to have got the knockout tonight, I was planning to call out [Shooto 143-pound world champion] Hatsu Hioki,” said a humble Tsuchiya after the fight. “I didn't though, so I think I need one more fight before facing the champion.”
Though the 26-year-old Tsuchiya was the evening’s finale, a pair of flyweight veterans stole the show, as current Shooto world 123-pound titlist Yasuhiro Urushitani and former champion Mamoru Yamaguchi both turned in sensational first-round knockouts.
In his bout with Takuya Mori, it was obvious from the opening moments that Urushitani was in a league of his own, dancing just beyond Mori's punches while stinging with low kicks. It appeared to be a typical Urushitani fight, where he would slickly outstrike his foe for 15 minutes, until a crushing left cross rewrote the script, forcing Mori to stumble backwards.
A head kick and several more hard left hands later, Urushitani dropped Mori again. In the ensuing ground-and-pound, referee Toshiharu Suzuki momentarily intervened, but then thought better of stopping the non-title bout, letting the champ continue to assault his foe. A dazed Mori ate further salvos of punishment until Suzuki finally halted the action.
In the feverish excitement over Urushitani’s first knockout win inside of Shooto in his nearly 10-year career, no official time was announced.
Whereas Urushitani pounded Mori, flyweight ace Mamoru Yamaguchi just needed one swing of his leg to crush up-and-comer Fumihiro Kitahara.
The afroed fighter got busy early, slamming a hard kick to the chest of Kitahara just after the opening bell. Kitahara fished for takedowns, but Yamaguchi defended with ease. Persevering, Kitahara continued to press Yamaguchi into the ropes in the eventual hopes of getting him to the floor.
It wasn’t to be: as Yamaguchi shoved Kitahara away from the clinch, he launched a massive high kick that separated Kitahara from consciousness. Kitahara fell straight backward with a startling thud. Yamaguchi rushed in to add more punches for good measure, but referee Suzuki was already in place to shield Kitahara’s vacant body, calling the bout at 2:33 of the first round.
With the knockout, Yamaguchi notched his third consecutive finish since venturing beyond Shooto's borders to compete for King of the Cage, where he choked out Frank Baca and elbowed Greg Guzman to a stop earlier this year. The 33-year-old Yamaguchi currently holds the KOTC 125-pound title.
Elsewhere on the card, Tenkei “Fujimiya” Oda also petitioned to face Shooto 143-pound kingpin Hatsu Hioki after leveling South Korean Bae Yong Kwon in just 63 seconds.
Oda absorbed an initial one-two from the Korean and returned fire with big right hands that wobbled Kwon. “Fujimiya” piled on several more as Kwon backpedalled, dropping the Korean fighter into the turtle position, whereupon referee Suzuki stepped in for the quick stop just 1:03 into the first frame.
IFL and KOTC veteran Adam Lynn earned a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-28, 29-28) over Yoshihiro Koyama. Lynn used his head movement and counter-punching to take Koyama to task on the feet, shutting down down Koyama’s powerful takedown attack.
Mikihito Yamagami took a majority nod (20-18, 20-19, 20-20) over Shinya Murofushi in a battle of lanky 115-pounders. Yamagami beat Murofushi to the punch and stuffed his takedown attempts repeatedly over the two-round affair.
Haruo Ochi put a beating on Hiroaki Ijima over two rounds to take a unanimous verdict (20-16, 20-16, 20-16), dribbling Ijima's head on the canvas after dropping him midway through the first frame, and keeping up the pressure for the full 10 minutes.
Yuta Nezu won a majority decision (20-19, 20-19, 20-20) over Kota Onojima with a strong selection of low and high kicks, and hard knees to the body.
Finally, Kenji Yamamoto defeated Toshiaki Hayasaka by cut stoppage at 1:28 of the first round, after opening a large gash over Hayasaka's right eye.