Fight fans said sayonara to 'Mr. Pride' Akira Shoji at Deep '53 Impact' | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com


TOKYO -- Friday evening at Korakuen Hall, Akira Shoji's 15-year MMA career came to an end with a second loss to former Pride grand prix champion Kazuo Misaki in the headliner of Deep "53 Impact".

Dubbed “Mr. Pride,” Shoji's fight style was markedly different from his heyday in the Japanese super promotion, reminiscent of the hourglass karate stance that Hiroyuki Abe employed in his latest outings in Shoot Boxing and Deep.

“It was a new style of karate that Tatsuya Iwasaki taught to me,” claimed Shoji after the fight, who was wearing the black belt awarded to him by Iwasaki during his retirement ceremony.

T. Irei


Misaki crushed Shoji's karate stylings.

Iwasaki is best known to Pride fans as Wanderlei Silva's prey for the first K-1 and Pride “Dynamite” collaboration in 2002 -- an event that still holds the record for the most attended show in MMA with 91,000 at the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Iwasaki's style of karate proved no more effective for Shoji than it did for Abe, however, as a cautious Misaki spent round one at distance, landing repeated low kicks and the occasional stiff jab. Shoji landed several hard counter left hands, though they were less consequential than Misaki's constant offense.

“Before the fight, I wanted to crush Shoji, but once I stepped into the ring, it was hard for me to bring myself to hurt a retiring fighter like him,” said an emotional, teary-eyed Misaki post-fight. “He didn't want to engage, either, so that made it even harder for me to hurt him.”

Regardless, Misaki surmounted his reservations and unleashed a violent flurry of punches and a knee that sent Shoji to the mat a minute into the second period. Though Shoji covered up, he offered little resistance, as “The Last Samurai” piled on punches and stomps, prompting referee Yoshinori Umeki to peel a crying Misaki off at 1:13.

It was Misaki's second victory over Shoji, having choked him out at Deep "23 Impact" in February 2006. Shoji briefly contested the stoppage but was overcome by tears himself shortly after.

“I love Akira Shoji,” proclaimed the emotional Misaki in-ring. “I've admired him since the start of my career, and have been inspired by him to fight the way I do today. He's a samurai. I want to thank him for encouraging and moving me.”

T. Irei


Shoji showed off his new
black belt.

“After the Tohoku earthquake, I thought, 'Can I really fight given the circumstances?'” said Shoji. “But all I have in my life are the martial arts. I want to continue contributing to martial arts and to found the 'MMA Old Boys Club' to help MMA contribute to the world.”

The bout concluded with a retirement ceremony in which various luminaries such as Caol Uno, Hayato Sakurai, Dream Event Producer Keiichi Sasahara and veteran referee Yuji Shimada, among many others, presented the retiring Shoji with flowers and gifts. The ceremony closed with a final playing of the Pride theme song for “Mr. Pride.”

With this second loss to Misaki, Shoji concludes his lengthy career in MMA, which featured a staggering 23 bouts in the Pride ring. However, he is not leaving the sport entirely. Shoji continues to work as a referee and judge for Deep and Dream, and now, he will direct his energies toward creating the aforementioned “MMA Old Boys Club.” According to Shoji, the club is intended to be a group for fighters to “give back to society,” though he was unable to give concrete details on its planned activities.

Elsewhere, former SRC lightweight champion Satoru Kitaoka defeated UFC veteran Jutaro Nakao with three rounds of stifling grappling.

Nakao did his homework, as he consistently foiled Kitaoka's go-to favorites of single-leg takedowns and leg submissions. Nakao's defense for the Achilles’ lock was simple: as Kitaoka arched back for the full extension, Nakao broke the former SRC champ's grip, keeping his foot safe.

“I rushed into the submission attempts and, why, I just wasn't able to get them,” a frustrated Kitaoka said after the fight. “I'm not very satisfied with the outcome, but I really did try to finish it.”

Though Nakao's defense was otherwise superb, it was still a tactic that in the judges' eyes would not win the fight. Kitaoka took the unanimous decision thanks to his constant takedown and submission attempts. No scores were announced.

T. Irei


Kitaoka pursued submissions
but couldn't finish.

Fellow SRC veteran Eiji Mitsuoka looked to be in trouble early against Jung Gyeong Lee, when, after a single-leg attempt, Mitsuoka found himself caught in a triangle choke. Mitsuoka kept his cool, however, and, over the course of two tense minutes, worked his way free to pass to full mount. From above, Mitsuoka mercilessly rained heavy punches until Lee tapped to escape further punishment.

Afterward, Mistuoka made a special address to his wrestling senior, who lost his Ishinomaki home in the recent March 11 Tohoku disasters. Calling him out in the crowd, Mitsuoka stated post-fight: “I fought tonight to cheer for my sempai [senior] and the Tohoku Earthquake survivors.”

A collaboration between heavy metal band Outrage and Deep, the first bout of the Annihilate Megaton Cup saw Seigo Mizuguchi crush Mamoru Nakamura in less than a minute, putting him one step closer to becoming the Megaton division’s number one contender.

After launching three consecutive left hooks to Nakamura's cheek, Mizuguchi flipped him over his hip and wailed away from mount. Kicking his legs helplessly from bottom, Samio Kimura was forced to step in and save the beached Nakamura at the 0:52 mark.

T. Irei


Lee attacked Mitsuoka with his
grappling.

Meanwhile, Tatsumitsu Wada utilized an overhand right and single-leg takedown to great effect against Yoshiki Harada, taking all three judges' cards.

After stunning Harada in the first, Wada took him down and stifled him on the canvas in the second frame to lock up the decision.

Iwasaki-style karate served former Yokohama Baystars batter Katsuaki Furuki somewhat better than the retiring Shoji, as he stiffly punched his way to a majority decision over Yoshitaka Ebina. The bolt-upright Furuki marched forward with punches, absorbing Ebina's own until Ebina gassed.

Former Deep welterweight champion Hidehiko Hasegawa dropped a decision to winging puncher Yasushi Kitazaki, who fended off numerous leg locks to batter the Deep fan favorite throughout two rounds.

Lightweight Luiz Andrade I reversed an early Yutaka Ueda takedown in the second round to latch on a tight armbar that referee Umeki deemed to taut for his liking, calling the bout a mere 52 seconds in.

Kicking off the evening, Sakae Kasuya woke up the beast in bantamweight Makoto Kamaya, who choked him out cold at 1:46 of round two.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

UFC Middleweight Costas Philippou Retires from MMA

  • 25 days ago
  • 0 views

In a somewhat surprising move, UFC middleweight contender Costas Philippou has decided to end his MMA career. Philippou has not personally commented on his decision. However, Sherdog did confirm the read news >>

Invicta FC 13 Results: Cris Cyborg wins in 45 seconds, calls out Ronda Rousey

  • 24 days ago
  • 3258 views

Cris Cyborg took on Faith Van Duin on the main event of Invicta FC 13. Invicta FC 13 was headlined by a featherweight title defense from Cris Cyborg as took on Faith Van Duin. As expected, the domina read news >>

Cris Cyborg Makes Weight at Invicta FC 13, Drop to 135 Remains Possible

  • 25 days ago
  • 14 views

Cris “Cyborg” Justino officially made weight on Wednesday evening for her title defense against Faith van Duin. Cyborg is the Invicta FC featherweight champion, but that is not what people are intere read news >>

Costas Philippou retires from UFC

  • 26 days ago
  • 4 views

Well, you can't say we didn't see this coming. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight Costas Philippou, 35, has retired from active mixed martial arts (MMA) competition following a unanimo read news >>

Ben Rothwell: Give me one more fight to prove I’m ready for the title

  • 26 days ago
  • 8 views

After three impressive wins, UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell wants one more win to prove he’s ready for a title shot against champ Fabricio Werdum.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UF read news >>

Invicta FC 13 Full Fight: Cris Cyborg Blasts Charmaine Tweet

  • 26 days ago
  • 85 views

Famous for her TKO wins and carrying a dominant reputation, Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Justino defends her title against Charmaine Tweet. read news >>

UFC middleweight Costas Philippou retires

  • 26 days ago
  • 32 views

After it was previously noticed that Costas Philippou had been removed from the UFC rankings, it has been confirmed that he's retired from the sport. Earlier on Tuesday it was noticed that Costas Phi read news >>

BJ Penn Hall of Fame induction provides fitting end to storied UFC career

  • 26 days ago
  • 5 views

The term "warrior" can be overused in mixed martial arts (MMA). As Josh Barnett stated in an interview with HOV MMA, there are more athletes than fighters now. They attempt to choose their opponents read news >>

Chael Sonnen shoots down rumors of a comeback, reflects on career

  • 27 days ago
  • 22 views

Could the "American Gangster," Chael Sonnen, return to the cage for a comeback fight? While it's an idea that would certainly draw major interest, and it's one that's already been floated by Mike Rob read news >>

Paulo Filho admits use of cocaine during WEC career, says Jon Jones will use it again

  • 29 days ago
  • 223 views

Former PRIDE star and WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho once was one of the best fighters in the world, but never really achieved what his teammates expected him to. For years, training partners read news >>