Kawaguchi Reigns at Deep Megaton GP Finals

By Stephen Martinez Aug 2, 2008
TOKYO -- Just when you thought Japan had started to take its mixed martial arts too seriously, Deep president Shigeru Saeki put an end to that notion with the Megaton Grand Prix 2008 Finals on Saturday at Shinjuku Face. It was MMA for the heftier person, featuring heavyweight fighters and heavyweight ring girls; heavyweight fans got drinks free.

For tournament favorite Yusuke Kawaguchi (Pictures), the finals were no different than the rest of his Megaton matches, as he went on the offensive with a flurry of punches while the opening bell was still ringing. Shunsuke Inoue (Pictures) -- cornered by UFC and Pride Fighting Championships veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura (Pictures) -- was up to the challenge, however, and held his ground, as he delivered a crushing right hand that floored Kawaguchi early.

The reasonably in shape Kawaguchi recovered, as he returned to his feet and attempted the same flurry. Inoue again landed with the counter right, but Kawaguchi withstood his power and dropped the Yoshida Dojo student to the mat briefly. Inoue mounted some offense later in the round, as he landed a trip takedown and delivered hard shots to the body from inside the clinch as the bell rang. For the first time in the tournament, the undefeated Kawaguchi was pushed into the second round.

The problem with Kawaguchi’s game plan to run at his opponent and punch in bunches became apparent in round two when a hard low kick dropped him to the canvas. Inoue attempted to follow it up and secure solid positioning but, in the process, ate a barrage of hammer fists that caused him to abort his plan.

With the fighters back on their feet, Kawaguchi took a knee just below the midsection, a development that allowed both men ample time to rest. Kawaguchi soon resumed his plan to press forward, as he absorbed the low kicks Inoue dished out. A failed hip toss put Inoue on the bottom and in danger of being stopped with punches. In the final seconds, he reversed the position and finished the fight in mount, where he returned the favor.

The fans saw it as a close fight, as did the judges, who awarded Kawaguchi a split decision. Along with the grand prix belt, Kawaguchi was rewarded for his efforts in true Megaton style -- he received a side of beef, free meals at a steak house and a case of water to wash it all down.

Kawaguchi’s game plan proved less than stellar in his semi-final match, as he again came out with his initial burst, only to be countered with a right hand. From the clinch, however, he secured a body lock takedown and, from guard and side control, pounded out Shunji Kosaka for the TKO stoppage in the first round.

In Inoue’s semi-final bout, the Yoshida Dojo student opened up with a strong low kick that dropped his portly opponent, Ken Orihashi (Pictures). Attempting to recover, Orihashi shot in for the double-leg takedown, only to get countered with a guillotine choke attempt and, soon after, a crucifix. Orihashi was later caught in mount, and Inoue finished him with an armbar before the end of round one.

Elsewhere, Wakaarachi utilized straight rights against southpaw Mamoru Nakamura (Pictures) in the Megaton Grand Prix reserve match and earned a win in the first round, although it came in interesting fashion. After a stiff right floored Nakamura, Wakaarachi followed him down and landed in a painful, self-imposed omaplata as the referee called the knockout.

Back down at welterweight, Satoru Yamada and Royji Suzuki battled to a majority draw, as neither man effectively employed his game plan. Yamada’s strategy was clear from the outset, as he wanted no part of the stand-up action and jumped to guard several times. Suzuki was not willing to comply, however, as he defended well on the ground and landed some strikes to force the draw.

In the event’s tag team grappling tournament, Kohei Yasumi (Pictures) and Naoya Uematsu (Pictures) steamrolled the competition and met Daichi Fujiwara (Pictures) and Takushi Hasegawa in the final. There, the veterans doled out more punishment, as Yasumi submitted Fujiwara with a North/South choke and Uematsu tapped out Hasegawa with a straight ankle lock.

An “Old Man Grappling Match” rounded out the show and allowed one of Japan’s premiere referees, Samio Kimura, to see things from a different point of view. He dominated the position battle against curry restaurant owner Shinichiro Eguchi en route to a second-round armbar victory.
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