TOKYO -- Despite a less-than-stellar Friday night turnout at
historic Korakuen Hall, Shooto 154-pound champion Kuniyoshi
Hironaka crushed challenger Giovani
Diniz to near deafening applause in the main event of Shooto “5th
After putting being put on his back near the ropes,
Nova Uniao product Diniz twisted for a heel hook and then a
kneebar. Hironaka defended against the leg locks by raining heavy
punches, softening his Brazilian challenger just enough to briefly
take mount for more punishing ground-and-pound. Referee Toshiharu
Suzuki almost called the bout there, but Diniz managed to escape
the mount. What he could not escape was more of Hironaka’s punches,
as the champ stayed close above him, dropping brain-rattling bombs
until Suzuki mercifully stepped in at the 4:05 mark of the first
Hironaka steamrolled Diniz.
“I believe I perform better against foreign fighters than I do
against Japanese fighters,” said Hironaka, post-fight, subtly
hinting that his sights may be set on a cage overseas. However,
when asked about a potential return to the
UFC, the Shooto champ remained humble.
“I want my revenge in the UFC, but they need to believe I meet
their standards first,” Hironaka explained. “If I get an offer [to
return], it’s not because I dominated in a fight like tonight’s.
Even if I win in close fights, it’ll have to be against very
Earlier that evening, Hiromasa
Ogikubo shook up the championship ranks by dethroning Koetsu
Okazaki in the Osaka native’s first defense as Shooto 132-pound
Having seen Okazaki batter the belt’s previous owner, Shuichiro
Katsumura, in April 2011, Ogikubo wisely mounted a conservative
ground campaign, racking up punches from mount and back-mount in
the opening frame. Okazaki prevented a repeat of this in the second
frame by staying in top position to drop walloping punches while
Ogikubo attempted armbars and foot locks.
The exertion from this apparently sapped the champion, as he was
unable to power out from underneath Ogikubo in the third round
after succumbing to another takedown. A patient Ogikubo bided his
time until capturing Okazaki’s back to sink the fight-ending
rear-naked choke for the tap at 3:32 of round three.
Ogikubo got a royal ride after
upsetting Okazaki for the title.
“I came to Tokyo seven years ago, wanting that Shooto title. This
year, my child was born and I finally captured this title,” claimed
the newly belted Ogikubo after the fight. “As champion, I think
I’ll rest up for half a year and then I’ll take on [Kyoji]
UFC veteran and Sengoku 2010 welterweight grand prix winner
Nakamura notched another win by grinding up fellow Sengoku vet
Sasaki in their 170-pound bout.
Though mostly known for his superlative grappling prowess, Nakamura
showed little hesitation in swinging for the fences against Sasaki.
While this brash stance earned him a bloody nose in the final frame
thanks to Sasaki’s well-placed counterpunches, the repeated
takedowns and relentless ground-and-pound of “K-Taro” were more
than enough to convince judges Suzuki, Tomohiro
Tanaka and Tadashi
Yokoyama to give him a full set of 30-27 scorecards.
In undercard action, Wataru Miki
skated by Mach Dojo’s Yoshifumi
Nakamura in an otherwise tepid 143-pound affair. Southpaw Miki
took the center of the ring, where he counter-jabbed Nakamura’s
flurries and reversed takedown attempts. Regardless, Miki had his
hands full, eating his fair share of punches while fighting to stay
on his feet as the dogged Nakamura pressed the action. By bout’s
end, even Miki registered an expression of mild surprise when
judges Tanaka and Yokoyama’s scorecards read 30-28 and 29-28 in his
favor, while judge Suzuki’s read 29-28 for Nakamura.
Stiff southpaw jabs, relentless diving takedowns and a go-for-broke
grappling style was Kota
Shimoishi’s winning combination against Koshi
Matsumoto in their 154-pound bout. A conservative Matsumoto had
his moments in reversing Shimoishi on the canvas and threatening
with guillotines and rear-naked chokes, but Shimoishi won judges
Kanno and Suzuki over with his reckless aggression, netting
30-28, 30-28 and 29-28 cards from them, respectively.
K-Taro played conservative on top.
Early in the evening at 154 pounds, Akira Okada
reversed an overzealous Fumihiko
Kawamura takedown attempt and slapped on a rear-naked choke for
the tap at 3:25 of the first period.
Just prior, in a 163-pound catchweight bout, Koji
Nishioka pinned Yoshikazu
Fujiishi to the canvas to grind out a 20-18 unanimous decision
on judges Suzuki, Yokoyama and Kanno’s scorecards.