Yamamiya Topples Kawamura in Pancrase

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Dec 22, 2007
TOKYO, Japan, Dec. 22 -- Old-school proved victorious over new-school in the main event of Pancrase's final Rising Tour card, as the veteran Keiichiro Yamamiya (Pictures) defeated Pancrase rising-star Ryo Kawamura (Pictures) by unanimous decision.

Yamamiya's recent focus on kickboxing proved to be his key to victory as the southpaw veteran played the part of matador, baiting the younger, orthodox Kawamura to engage before evading and returning with stiff jabs and powerful left hook counter punches.

Coming out to control the center of the ring in the first round, Kawamura measured distance with pawing jabs before loading up for right straights or hooks.

Two steps ahead, Yamamiya evaded or was grazed by the punches before returning with a powerful left hook counter that put the younger fighter on the canvas, stunned but otherwise unhurt.

Following his opponent to the mat, Yamamiya traded short punches with Kawamura from top position until the bell.

The second period saw much of the same, as Yamamiya circled on the outside, playing the counter game, while Kawamura sought openings to land the knockout combination.

When either man seemed close to overwhelming the other, both engaged in the clinch. Taking turns pushing his opponent against the ropes, Yamamiya employed small knees to Kawamura's legs while Kawamura employed dirty boxing.

While there was no deviation in game plan in the third stanza, fatigue appeared to wear down both fighters, who scored more punches than in previous rounds. Still circling from the outside, Yamamiya stung Kawamura with jabs and quick left straights, while Kawamura was finally able to land jabs and right hooks of his own in response.

Brief moments of crowd-rousing, toe-to-toe exchanges resulted in Kawamura and Yamamiya trading blow for blow, but neither fighter appeared to score any significant damage.

Be that as it may, Yamamiya's counter-fighting tactics appeared to have impressed the judges enough for them to award him a unanimous decision (30-29, 30-28, 30-28).

Overwhelmed with emotion at notching a win in his first MMA bout in a year, Yamamiya saw fit to challenge Pancrase light heavyweight champion Yuki Kondo (Pictures). Kondo, who saw action in this month's Ring of Fire, stepped into the ring to acknowledge and accept Yamamiya's challenge.

Age did not win out over beauty in the evening's co-main event however, as Shoji defeated Pancrase regular Takafumi Ito (Pictures).

Though victorious, the Pancrase headhunter was unable to collect his usual knockout victory as the veteran Ito once again proved that his rock-hard head and tenacity could carry him through a three-round war with a young, dangerous opponent.

Showing no inclination to play the striking game, Ito pressed for takedowns throughout the three rounds, often landing in his opponent's guard where he was able to pepper Shoji with short punches to the head and ribs. On occasion however, Ito's takedown attempts backfired. Shoji was stuffed several attempts and took Ito's back, where he swung with reckless abandon at the veteran's head.

Round three proved particularly dangerous for Ito. Shoji scored at least six soccer kicks to the head of Ito who, at the time, was firmly latched onto Shoji's leg in his futile attempts to get the single. Through sheer force of will, Ito hung on and was able to drag Shoji to the mat, time and again, by resolutely driving forward, weathering punches and the occasional soccer kick.

From guard and half-guard, Ito attempted to employ the only real offense he had against the dangerous knockout artist: short punches to the head and body. Alas, they proved too little to impress the judges, as all three decided to award the unanimous decision to Shoji (30-29, 30-28, 30-27).

"The Baby Faced Assassin" Josh Barnett (Pictures) entertained while handily dispatching Hikaru Sato (Pictures) in their special catch-wrestling rules bout, choking out the cosplaying Pancrasiast at the 4:27 mark in the first round.

While Sato scrambled to take his bigger, heavier opponent down, Barnett merely sat and defended leg and foot lock attempts when the takedowns proved futile. Between forcing his way into dominant position and tossing out submission attempts at will, Barnett was apparently biding his time as he sought openings to put in some the flashier wrestling maneuvers. While Barnett was unable to catch Sato with a powerbomb, he was able to lock on an STF and a double arm suplex en-route to finishing Sato with the rear-naked choke.

Kenji Arai (Pictures) submitted Mike Kwok by armbar at a mere 1:17 in the first round in their lightweight bout. With both men fighting for position from the clinch in the opening moments, it was Arai who came out victorious, forcing Kwok to the floor after a failed single-leg attempt from the Team Tackle fighter.

Landing in perfect position for an armbar, Arai took the submission while Kwok attempted to spin out. The submission was locked on tight however, forcing Kwok to abandon escape in favor of the tap.

Masahiro Toryu (Pictures) barely put up a fight this evening as his first instinct was to go for the single-leg takedown on Gadzhiev Alavutdin, who not only stuffed the attempt, but ended up flipping the Japanese fighter over to land on him in a high mount. Essentially sitting on his opponent's face, Alavutdin picked his shots, dropping heavy punches from above, while Toryu haplessly flailed his legs in an attempt to escape.

Alavutdin's selective punching eventually paid dividends as they were enough to close up Toryu's eye, causing the referee step in while at the same time, Toryu's corner threw in the towel for the stoppage 57 seconds into the first.

Miki Shida (Pictures) captured a close unanimous decision over "The Sergeant" Jameel Massouh (Pictures), taking down and piling up points on the young fighter.

Though Massouh scored with hard middle kicks and good jabs, it was Shida's winging left hooks and punches from half-guard that won him the bout.

Initially opening up a cut above Shida's right eye with a knee as the Japanese fighter shot in for the takedown, Massouh exacerbated the cut in round two with what appeared to be an up-kick, precipitating a momentary pause for a doctor check. Upon resuming, Shida was still able to impose his grappling superiority to pound out a unanimous decision (20-19, 20-19, 20-19).

Yuichi Ikari gave "The Oriental Mystery," Takumi Yano (Pictures), his second brutal knockout in a row, as he nixed the eccentric grappler at 1:51 in the first round of their lightweight bout.

With some early attempts at striking by Yano that resulted in him slipping and taking the fight to the floor, Yano's sly ground skills proved no trouble to Ikari. Reversing from guard and taking side-mount, Ikari rained punishment on a scrambling Yano, landing a soccer kick that rocked him enough to open him for a barrage of KO-inducing punches. Showing no ability to defend after eating many hard punches to the head, the referee finally stepped in, awarding Ikari the TKO victory.

Thanks more so to a hard head than any real technique to show for, Tatsuya So (Pictures) submitted Hayato Shimizu (Pictures) in the second round via brabo choke after a round a half of eating punches, knees, and low kicks. Looking tentative and unwilling to engage on the feet, So took punishment while looking to barrel in with messy takedown attempts. Pressing forward in spite of having no defense or answer to the onslaught, So was able to lock on a tight brabo off of a failed Shimizu takedown attempt at 3:30 of the second round, forcing the tap.
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