Roberto Satoshi de Souza Demolishes Keita Nakamura at Rizin 'Landmark Vol. 9'

Rizin Fighting Federation lightweight champion Roberto Satoshi de Souza made a strong statement in his quick and punishing main event victory on Saturday at Rizin “Landmark Vol. 9” in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. De Souza destroyed multi-time UFC veteran Keita Nakamura with a barrage of strikes early in their non-title matchup to cap off the 14-fight card.

De Souza (16-3, 9-2 Rizin) nearly knocked out Nakamura (36-12-2, 1 NC, 2-1 Rizin) with a head kick and punches during the opening minute of the evening’s headliner, but Nakamura narrowly survived the onslaught. De Souza stood over his downed foe and unleashed a series of soccer kicks before Nakamura finally got back to his feet. De Souza sensed that the end was near, however, and he teed off with punches as Nakamura wilted against the cage.

Sub-referee Masato Fukuda was standing in Nakamura’s corner, and he threw in the yellow baton to signify a corner stoppage at the 1:43 mark of Round 1. De Souza, who was competing for the first time since he suffered a disappointing loss at Bellator MMA x Rizin 2 in July, celebrated his victory as a dazed Nakamura was held up against the cage. Postfight, de Souza proposed in the cage to his girlfriend, who said yes.

In the featherweight co-feature, Koji Takeda (16-6, 6-6 Rizin) overcame a brutal knee to the groin in the opening round and took a commanding unanimous decision victory over Kyohei Hagiwara (7-9, 6-7 Rizin), who was manhandled throughout the final two rounds.

The first round was a cautious one with limited action until four minutes in, when Takeda was kneed hard in the groin during a clinch against the cage. He stayed down for quite some time before returning to his feet as the crowd cheered him on. While some fighters cannot recover from such a strike, Takeda proceeded to dominate the remainder of the fight.

Takeda held back control for most of Round 2 and all of Round 3. He repeatedly suplexed Hagiwara to the ground and kneed his legs and body. Hagiwara defended well against a late-fight rear-naked choke attempt, but that was the best that he could do and all three judges rightfully awarded the fight to Takeda, who snapped a three-fight losing skid.

Two-time UFC competitor Naoki Inoue (17-4, 7-2 Rizin) rebounded from a May 2023 defeat with a clear-cut unanimous decision win against 16-year veteran Shoko Sato (35-16-2, 1 NC, 1-1 Rizin) in featured bantamweight action.

Inoue, who was only 10 years old when Sato made his pro MMA debut, kept his much more experienced opponent at bay with jabs and leg kicks during the opening round. He hurt Sato with calf kicks early in the second stanza and then reversed a clinch into a takedown. Sato did rally as the round progressed, and he charged at Inoue with punching combinations.

In the final round, Inoue took Sato down and fought off a kimura attempt. Sato bloodied Inoue’s nose with strikes from the bottom, but that was the extent of his offense and Inoue trapped him in an arm-triangle late in the fight to seal a victory on the scorecards.

Opening up the main card, multi-time Shoot Boxing champion Rena Kubota (14-5, 13-4 Rizin) emerged victorious in her 60th professional combat sports fight. Kubota, who also sports a 35-5-1 professional kickboxing and shoot boxing record, scored a close but well-deserved unanimous decision win over former Road FC atomweight champion Yu Ri Shim (6-4, 0-1 Rizin) in a 108-pound women’s super atomweight showdown.

Shim, who had not fought since her Road FC title win in September 2021, showed no signs of ring rust at all, and she effectively used her reach advantage in the opening round. Shim landed numerous jabs and two powerful right hooks, and she cut Kubota above her left eye late in the round.

The second round was a closely contested one and neither woman held an advantage during the clinch battles. Shim scored a takedown and Kubota countered with a rolling kimura that had Shim in some trouble, but time expired.

With the fight seemingly up for grabs, Kubota saved her best for Round 3. She countered one Shim takedown with a guillotine choke and another one by reversing into back control. Kubota rained down elbows and hammerfists until Shim finally escaped to her feet. Shim did score one takedown before the end of the fight, but it was too little, too late. All three judges scored the bout for Kubota, who was returning from an 11-month injury hiatus.

Rounding out the MMA action, Yuya Shibata (19-7, 1-0 Rizin) submitted Erson Yamamoto (4-7, 3-7 Rizin) with a kneebar at the 1:45 mark of Round 1 in flyweight action; Yuto Hokamura (15-13-2, 3-5 Rizin) defeated Daiki Tsubota (11-11-3, 1-1 Rizin) via unanimous decision at bantamweight; Satoshi Kamiyama (1-3, 1-3 Rizin) scored his first Rizin win by stopping fellow heavyweight Cody Jerabek (1-1, 0-1 Rizin) with punches at the 2:58 mark of Round 1; Yuta Kubo (4-1, 4-1 Rizin) edged out Ryogo Takahashi (14-9, 0-1 Rizin) via split decision at featherweight; and flyweight Yusaku Nakamura (19-10-1, 4-4 Rizin) won a unanimous decision against an overweight Arman Ashimov (12-4-1, 0-1 Rizin).

The Landmark Vol. 9 card also featured five kickboxing matches, with the most notable being a 163-pound contest between striking legend Buakaw Banchamek and the controversial Minoru Kimura, who has faced severe scrutiny following recent doping infractions. While Kimura got off to a good start, Banchamek took over as the fight progressed and he ultimately knocked Kimura out with a straight right hand at the 1:10 mark of Round 2.

Completing the kickboxing lineup, Yuya stopped Masaya Jaki with punches at the 2:25 mark of Round 2 in a lightweight bout; Yuto Uemura earned a TKO win with a flurry of punches against Aoi Noda at the 1:35 mark of Round 2 in a 117-pound contest; Shun Matsuyama knocked out Shin Sakurai with a vicious counter hook at the 1:55 mark of Round 3 at a catchweight of 127 pounds; and flyweight Daichi Akahira won via unanimous decision against Yuki.

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