For the third chapter in the "Way of Shooto" series, leading Shooto promoter Sustain is serving up three world title bouts.
The promotion's May 30 event at JCB Hall in Tokyo will see Shooto posterboy and 143-pound world champion "Lion Takeshi" Takeshi Inoue defend his world title against Sengoku standout Hatsu Hioki, while a pair of world title rematches will pit Yasuhiro Urushitani against Ryuichi Miki for a third time with the vacant 123-pound world title at stake, and hot Brazilian prospect Willamy "Chiquerim" Freire will put the 154-pound strap on the line against former victim Yusuke Endo.
It will be the second defense for the 30-year-old Inoue since regaining the Shooto world title from Hideki Kadowaki in November 2008. After defending against Rumina Sato last May, Inoue outlasted another Shooto icon in October, stopping long-time featherweight king Alexandre Franca Nogueira in the fourth round of their non-title bout at "Vale Tudo Japan 2009." In January, he won another non-title affair, submitting tune-up opponent Gerald Lovato in the third round.
The 26-year-old Hioki is coming off of a hotly competitive split decision loss to Michihiro Omigawa in the Sengoku ring last November. The loss snapped a nine-bout unbeaten streak for the Nagoya native.
Urushitani and Miki first met in May 2008 and fought to a questionable draw. The pair squared off again last September, with Urushitani earning the unanimous decision most onlookers felt he deserved in the first meeting.
The Shooto 123-pound world championship was vacated on March 1, when Shinichi "BJ" Kojima announced that a nagging ACL injury in his right knee wouldn't allow him to defend the title on the May bill. It will be the first world title challenge for Miki, and the third for Urushitani, who contested the inaugural championship against Mamoru Yamaguchi in December 2003, and fought to a controversial draw with Kojima in March 2007.
Freire, 22, tapped out Endo last May right at the first-round bell. The Cearense up-and-comer went on to claim the vacant Shooto title in October, halting veteran Kenichiro Togashi in the first round of their bout, after breaking his nose. Meanwhile, Endo rebounded from his loss to "Chiquerim" by choking out Kotetsu Boku in September.
The card will also feature the aforementioned Rumina Sato against a yet-to-be-named opponent. The 36-year-old Sato last fought in October at "Vale Tudo Japan 2009," punching out then-unbeaten Team Quest product Cory Grant in the first round.
Also scheduled for the card, former Shooto world title challenger Eduardo "Dudu" Dantas will meet former Shooto rookie champion Hiromasa Ogikubo in a battle of once-beaten bantamweights, while Shintaro Ishiwatari will take on Wataru Miki in a 143-pound affair.