Leading Shooto promoter Sustain this week announced that Okazaki will put his 132-pound belt on the line in a rematch with Hiromasa Ogikubo on May 18 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. The same bill will feature Hironaka risking his 154-pound strap against an as-yet-unnamed opponent.
Ogikubo gave the current champ all he could handle in their first meeting, an October 2009 bout for the vacant 132-pound Pacific Rim title. After fending off multiple rear-naked chokes in the first round, however, Okazaki stormed back to punch out the Paraestra Matsudo product in the second. Since then, Ogikubo has gone 3-1 and risen to the No. 1 spot in the Japanese organization’s internal rankings, most recently outpointing veteran grappler Tetsu Suzuki in January. Okazaki also topped Suzuki before snatching the belt from one-and-done titlist Shuichiro Katsumura last April.
Hironaka has found success in his homeland at 154 pounds following an ill-fated run in the UFC welterweight division, where he compiled a 1-3 record before being cut in 2008. The former Cage Force lightweight champ reentered the Shooto ranks last April after a 5-year absence; three months later, he captured the title vacated by Willamy Freire with a unanimous decision over Shooto mainstay and Kid Yamamoto running mate Kotetsu Boku.
The May 18 undercard will feature another onetime UFC fighter, 2010 Sengoku welterweight grand prix winner Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura, gunning for his third straight win in a 170-pound tilt with Grabaka representative Yuki Sasaki.view original article >>
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