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Officials from Japan’s Shooto organization this week announced that Shooto world title fights will be contested over five rounds of five minutes each, effective Jan. 16, 2013.

Non-title affairs in Shooto’s Class A division will remain three-round contests, but officials announced that Class B fighters -- previously restricted to two-round fights -- will now be eligible to compete in three-round bouts. Shooto’s next “major” event will take place Nov. 11 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

Founded in 1984 by Satoru Sayama -- also known as pro-wrestling’s original Tiger Mask -- Shooto held its inaugural amateur show in 1986 and then put forth its first pro offering in 1989. Though Shooto’s rule set is now much closer to the unified rules of MMA with which most North American fans have become familiar, the Japanese combat sport previously operated under unique guidelines, allowing strikes to the back of the head and requiring an eight-count be given to fighters who had been knocked down. Both of those rules were abolished in 2009.

Many Shooto champions have gone on to compete successfully in both the defunct Pride Fighting Championships and the UFC, including Hatsu Hioki, Caol Uno, Joachim Hansen, Jake Shields, Hayato Sakurai, Anderson Silva, Siyar Bahadurzada and Takanori Gomi.

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