Women Headline DEEP Card

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Jun 17, 2007
TOKYO, Japan, June 16 -- Having unassumingly become a new hot spot for fightsport in Japan, the cozy nightclub-turned-fight-club, Shinjuku FACE, played host to the DEEP promotion this weekend, kicking off the fistic festivities with Club DEEP.

Running a massive 14-bout fight card, today's event gave the local audience a taste of what up-and-coming talent DEEP captain Shigeru Saeki has in store for the future of his promotion, while also setting up a title contender in the event's sole women's MMA bout.

It's a curious thing that, only in a place like Japan, can a women's MMA bout headline an otherwise exclusively male undercard. Be that as it may, the main event was not without consequence however, as it pitted Misaki Takimoto (Pictures) against the fast rising MIKU Matsumoto.

Only one month prior, Matsumoto defeated Su Hi Ham (Pictures) -- the otherwise unknown Korean fighter who put the surprise stamp on champion Hisae Watanabe in a non-title affair last February -- to fight for the No. 1 contender slot to face the DEEP queen.

A slip early in the round put Takimoto on the canvas, but quick thinking allowed her to turn the momentary loss of balance to her advantage as she was able to lock onto MIKU's nearby leg for a heelhook attempt.

Apparently taken by surprise, MIKU immediately lunged forward to pry Takimoto's grip from her foot, and while eventually successful, soon found herself fending off a kneebar attempt instead. MIKU persevered and managed to defend the knee-offensive technique as well as improve her position by eventually scrambling her way into Takimoto's guard.

Preventing MIKU from further improving position, Takimoto reached to isolate an arm, but in the shuffle for armbar allowed MIKU to escape and bring the fight back to the feet, where the two clinched and exchange knee for knee before being quickly broken up by the referee.

Despite an impressive one-two combination followed by a grazing knee to the face by MIKU, Takimoto still had the wherewithal to drop levels and execute a picture-perfect single-leg.

Landing in MIKU's half-guard, Takimoto quickly went to work dropping hammerfists from up high, scoring with most of them as MIKU was left squirming in an attempt to mitigate the damage. It didn't take long for MIKU to isolate an arm, looking to work for the Kimura. But it quickly turns into an armbar as Takimoto attempts to pass.

Although she attempted to pull herself out while passing, MIKU's lock was cinched far too tight, and thus forced Takimoto to tap to the submission at the 4:32 mark in the first round.

Ecstatic, MIKU embraced her opponent as the realization dawned upon her that she had just become the No. 1 contender. Watanabe, who was in attendance and watching eagerly from ringside, joined her future challenger in the ring to congratulate her and pose for pictures.

In the evening's sole kickboxing rules match, Kazunori Yokota (Pictures) spent the better of three rounds blasting Tae Eon Lee with crisp combinations and kicks. It soon became clear that Yokota -- cornered by Grabaka kickboxing standout Misaki -- had Lee severely outclassed on the feet.

With no lateral movement, wild and inaccurate punches, as well as an inability to consistently score with anything more than the occasional middle and low kicks, Yokota all but took apart the Korean fighter with a myriad of combinations and body punches in particular that put Lee into a downward spiral of fatigue, opening him up for even more punishment. Bloodied and battered as he was however, Lee lasted all three rounds until the bitter end -- a unanimous decision, awarded to Yokota after three periods.

Freelancer Tomohiko Hori was put into several frightening positions in the first round of his bout with Yoshisuke Kitada (Pictures), when the superior grappler in Kitada almost choked him out with a rear-naked choke, followed by a Kimura attempt.

While Hori was able to escape the subs, Kitada still did not allow Hori much room to breathe as he spent the remainder of the round dropping fists from Hori's guard. The tenacious Hori was not so easily discouraged however, as he was able to rally and charge in during the opening moments of the second period, keeping Kitada on his back while bringing down punches where the opportunity availed itself, all while fending off Kitada's constant submission attempts.

Kitada once again turned the ground phase to his favor after he was able to acquire and keep top position until the round's closing. Given Kitada's display of grappling technique however, it was all but a forgone conclusion that Kitada would walk away from the bout with the unanimous decision victory.

As the only fighter of the two to mix in low kicks with his punch combinations, Yuki Inoue (Pictures) essentially edged out opponent Takaaki Aoki in the striking department.

Aoki, who had little beyond punches to offer, and very little in the way of takedowns or sweeps, had no answer to Inoue's hard punches and hammerfists from the top while holding him in guard. With a majority of the first round and a duration of the second round consisting essentially of Inoue pounding Aoki out from the top, the judges had little option other than awarding Inoue with the unanimous decision victory.

Geovani Pereira (Pictures) proved to be little competition for SK Absolute fighter Soichiro Ohrui in their bout this evening, tapping out to a rear-naked choke turned face crank at 1:42 in the first round.

Looking decidedly uncomfortable on the feet, Pereira repeatedly switched stances early in the round before getting bowled over by Ohrui, where he allowed the Japanese fighter to take his back. From there, it was just a matter of time before Ohrui was able to secure and torque the rear-naked choke/face crank for the submission victory.

Coming out with bad intentions, Masakazu Kuramochi (Pictures)'s vicious opening combinations pummeled an unsuspecting Yuki Ito in the opening moments of their bout.

Unruffled, Ito calmly took the punishment, biding his time until the opportunity arrived to catch Kuramochi in several quick combinations of his own. It was in one of these exchanges that Ito landed a vicious left hook that sent Kuramochi to the canvas, where Ito pounded him out until the referee stop for the TKO win at 4:58 in the first round.

Although Tomoya Miyashita appeared to be far more comfortable on the feet than his opponent, the compact and energetic "Nukimpo" Watanuki Ippo used his size to his advantage this evening by ducking under much of Miyashita's showy barrages early on in their bout. Tight hooks, stiff rights, and a right kick to the head frustrated Miyashita throughout the bout, who despite his supposed edge in the stand-up department, could only afford to match Watanuki's offerings with low kicks and single punches of his own.

Changing tactics in the middle of the second in order to find his definitive edge, Miyashita took the fight down where he was almost able to cinch a reverse arm triangle from the top. It was foiled however by an arguably questionable stand-up by the referee (who claimed the fighters were tied up in the ropes), allowing Watanuki to escape. With one referee judging the bout a draw and two judging it in favor of the PRB representative, "Nukimpo" walked out with the decision victory after two rounds of back-and-forth action.

"Japinha" Takashi Otsuka of AACC took a victory over Motooki Takahashi this evening, keeping to the simple MO of pursuing the takedown and bringing the fight to the floor to wrangle out a submission. Exploding with an early takedown that took his opponent flying clear across the ring, it wasn't long before Otsuka was able to transition to Takahashi's back and forcefully crank in an arm for the rear-naked choke submission at the 2:40 mark in the first.

Not wanting to deal with "Nabe" Yoshitomo Watanabe's stand-up, Tetsuya Yoshioka pressed for the takedown throughout both rounds of their fight, looking to employ punches from above as his method to win.

Despite being largely successful in keeping top position and dropping hands where possible, Yoshioka was hard pressed to find openings for a TKO finish, while Watanabe remained calm under fire and continued searching for his own. With time growing short at the last minute of the bout, Yoshioka pulled himself out of Watanabe's guard to stand up and drop potentially fight-ending bombs from the standing position. The tactic proved fatal however, as Watanabe was quick to catch the falling Yoshioka and cinch on a tight triangle choke, finishing the fight by submission at 4:40 in the second round.

Almost taking Shingo Matsuda (Pictures)'s head off while Matsuda was offering a hand to touch gloves, Hiroaki Kashiwabara's opening flying knee failed to end the fight before it had really started. Instead, it proved to be the opening move in what would become an interesting back-and-forth ground battle, where both men traded position for position, and sub attempt for sub attempt.

The second stanza proved to be much of the same kind of action, but with Kashiwabara throwing punches into the mix as Matsuda pressed for takedown and leglock attempts, Kashiwabara was awarded for his extra aggression by impressing two of the three judges (with one declaring a draw), garnering him the split decision victory.

Looking quite the bull in his bout, Kota Ishibashi's quest to end the fight via wild haymakers opened him up to Shigeyuki Uchiyama's superior ground game, where the Grabaka rep took down, passed and mounted at will, almost getting a straight armbar from the bully choke position in the first period. Unfazed however, Ishibashi kept to his game plan by opening the second period with a spectacular flying knee, only to be caught by Uchiyama and mounted. Unable to escape and taking countless shots from the top, the judges naturally called the fight unanimously in favor for Uchiyama after two frames of domination.

With two clean takedowns, knees to the back of the legs from the clinch, and a triangle attempt, Yutaka Kobayashi's lone Kimura attempt appeared sorely inadequate against Yoshinori Asano's bountiful contributions to the fight. However, through a fair degree of perseverance, Kobayashi was able to finally catch Asano in the second round with a Sakuraba-esque Kimura from the back clinch, literally forcing Kobayashi to tap to the excruciating submission after cranking it far behind his opponent's back, ending the fight at the 2:07 mark.

In spite of acquiring the takedown early in the first period, Shimazaki Tarou proved to be outclassed on the ground in his fight against Otsuka Seiji, evidenced most prominently by Shimazaki's inability to find his way out from underneath and his improper utilization of the rubber guard, giving Otsuka every opportunity to pass and maintain dominant positions.

Perhaps seeking to add a little variety to the bout, Otsuka and Shimazaki added a bit of stand-up to the second frame of their match, where Shimazaki edged ahead with damage, opening a cut on the forehead of his opponent. Through his constant grappling control however, Otsuka was still able to convince two out of the three judges at the end of the fight to give him the split decision victory.

Bancho Kawanako looked a bit outclassed, but his toughness carried him through NITO's peppering strikes, allowing him the opportunity to take his opponent to the ground and drop punches where he could. After a stand-up from the ref, however, Kawanako managed to deck NITO with a powerful left hook, stunning him long enough for a follow-up right hook. Before he can bring more punishment to the fallen NITO, the ref stops the fight at 3:57 in the first for the TKO victory.
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