TOKYO -- Hideo Tokoro
needed only 39 seconds to pound out Shooto legend Rumina Sato in
their bantamweight bout at
Vale Tudo Japan 2012 on Monday.
The clash of fan-favorites capped off the first edition of the
revamped series, dubbed “VTJ 1st,” which took place inside a cage
at Yoyogi National Second Gymnasium.
It was “Shooto Charisma” Sato who was first to throw a punch,
rushing in on former K-1 and Dream star Tokoro with a barrage of
punches. Tokoro managed to evade the shots, however, and used a
quick trip to send Sato to the mat. The suddenness of the sweep
seemed to stun Sato, and Tokoro capitalized with a diving hook that
clipped his opponent straight across the chin. Sato immediately
curled into a ball to cover himself as Tokoro rained huge punches
and elbows from above. Referee Kenichi
Serizawa hesitated, allowing Tokoro to add a few extra elbows
to his onslaught before stepping in to end the fight. The finish
came a mere 39 seconds into the first round.
In a much more drawn out fight, Shooto 154-pound champ Kuniyoshi
Hironaka outpointed fellow UFC veteran Carlo Prater
after three rounds of tight grappling. Prater took the first round,
hitting a lateral drop takedown and staying on top of the Japanese
grappler. The Brazilian-born American tried to use the same
technique in rounds two and three, but Hironaka proved to have
better balance, leaning into Prater and landing on top to spend
most of the rounds trying to pass Prater’s half-guard.
Hironaka outworked Prater.
In round three, Hironaka made it to Prater’s back, but couldn’t
sink in the rear-naked choke and was content to throw punches and
elbows to his opponent’s head while the clock ticked down. In the
end, Hironaka’s superior grappling earned him a unanimous nod with
scores of 29-28 from judges Yuki Nakai,
Serizawa and Toshiharu Suzuki.
Former Tachi Palace Fights titleholder Darrell
Montague also made the trip to Japan, taking on former Shooto
Yamaguchi in a closely contested flyweight bout. Sporting his
signature afro and mustache, Yamaguchi tried to assert his usual
standup dominance on Montague, but found himself being beat to the
punch by the younger man for the majority of the fight.
Montague maintained consistent pressure, using quick one-two
combinations to wear down his Japanese opponent. Yamaguchi started
to rally in the second and third rounds, stealing a bit of the
momentum away from Montague, but still found himself on the
receiving end of multiple counter-punches and kicks. After three
rounds, it was the American who took home a split decision victory,
earning 30-27 and 29-28 scorecards from judges Nakai and Minoru
Toyonaga, respectively, while judge Kenichi
Serizawa alone scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Yamaguchi.
Another UFC veteran, bantamweight Ian
Loveland, faced off against Japan’s top prospect in 22-year-old
Horiguchi, marking Horiguchi’s first appearance in a cage.
Despite his shorter reach, Horiguchi chose to stick to the outside
and pick off his opponent with lunging punches and heavy leg kicks
early on. Loveland tried to take the fight to the ground on
multiple occasions, but Horiguchi was able to muscle his way out of
the American’s clinch. The highlight of the match came around the
middle of the first round, when Horiguchi landed a cannon of a
right hook that sent Loveland face first into the canvas. Horiguchi
pounced, but Loveland proved game enough to withstand the barrage
and got back to his feet to see the round.
Horiguchi hurt, but couldn't
The second frame was razor-thin, as Loveland took on the aggressor
role, puffing up Horiguchi’s eyes with quick combinations and
nearly sinking in a rear-naked choke toward the end of the
five-minute period. In the final round, Loveland used the same
pattern of ranged attacking to stifle Horiguchi’s offense and
bloody his face. Horiguchi turned the tide with a heavy kick to the
body that had Loveland retreating in pain, but the Krazy Bee
prospect couldn’t finish and the fight went to the final bell. At
the end of three close rounds, judges Nakai, Suzuki and Toyonaga
all scored the bout 29-28 for Horiguchi, who continued his climb to
the world stage.
In what may have been her final professional appearance, female MMA
Fujii earned a dominant unanimous decision victory over fellow
Yamaguchi at 115 pounds. The fight started with fireworks, as
both fighters chose to brawl before Fujii settled into her rhythm
and controlled Yamaguchi with constant takedowns, ground-and-pound
and submission attempts. The bout wasn't completely one-sided,
though, as “V.V. Mei” put Fujii in more than a couple scary
situations, using heavy hands to fight off submission attempts.
Fujii’s final performance was still good enough to earn her perfect
marks across the board, as she received 20-18 scores from all three
At bantamweight, Kenji Osawa
took a close decision victory over former Shooto champ Takeshi
Inoue in a battle of feint-heavy counter punchers. Osawa
controlled the pace of the fight, staying aggressive and escaping
most of “Lion” Takeshi's heavy counter punches. In the final round,
Inoue landed a big four-punch combination that staggered the WEC
veteran, but he couldn’t capitalize as Osawa was able to stay on
his feet and return fire. Osawa just came through with the win,
earning scores of 29-28 from all three judges.
K-Taro choked out Suzuki.
Earlier in the night, Keita
Nakamura did what “K-Taro” does best and submitted previously
unbeaten slugger Nobutatsu
Suzuki with a rear naked choke only 2:09 into their 177-pound
catchweight bout. In the evening’s opener, Daisuke
Hoshino tapped muay Thai convert Kuntap
Weerasakreck with an armbar at the 2:19 mark of round one.