Jo Arai continued the dramatic revival of his career at Shooto 0723. The 25-year-old endured an eight fight losing streak at one stage but is now the promotion’s strawweight champion and successfully defended that belt in Tokyo on Sunday.

Arai is now on a ten fight winning streak after putting away Shuto Aki in the first round of their strawweight title clash which headlined the event at the Korakuen Hall. He showcased his dominance from the outset by closing the distance and taking control of the opening round.

Aki attempted a single-leg but Arai countered, driving his right knee into his opponent’s body and transitioning into a body lock. The challenger sought to create an opening with a left jab but the champion quickly got back to his feet to face him.

Jo Arai punches Shuto Aki

Keisuke Takazawa

Powerful punches

As the battle intensified, both fighters exchanged powerful punches. Aki landed a right, but Arai responded with a thunderous left hook of his own.

Aki’s footwork was impressive, moving back and forth wile looking for openings but Arai maintained his composure and continued to pressure. The challenger tried to evade with a left jab, but his countered with a flurry of hooks which knocked him down.

Aki battled to his his feet and attempted to retaliate. But his opponent’s precision striking was too much to handle and he struggled to find his rhythm. The assault from the champ continued and he continued to land left hooks.

He mixed up his attacks, delivering hooks to both the upper and lower body to keep Aki guessing. This strategy proved effective, and he showcased his versatility with a right calf kick followed by a decisive straight right.

Jo Arai punches Shuto Aki at Shooto

Keisuke Takazawa

Moving up

Aki was defenceless and a series of follow up punches caused the referee to step in and save him with the finish coming at the 4:41 mark. Arai extended his record to 14-9-2 and remains the Shooto strawweight champion while Aki drops to 9-4-1.

After the fight Arai, who was making the first defence of the Shooto strawweight title he won last year, laid down his intentions to compete for the flyweight title and said,

“I’m relieved that I was able to fulfill my duty as a champion. Do you want to see the first two weight class champion in Shooto history? Let’s put the strawweight champion in for the the flyweight belt. Joe Arai will go down in Shooto history!”

Jo Arai celebrates victory at Shooto

Keisuke Takazawa

Best of the rest

Daichi Takenaka (14-3-1) returned to Shooto after a seven year absence. The ONE Championship veteran claimed a decision win over Nobuki Fujii (20-13-3) in their bantamweight bout.

Shooto 0723, Tokyo, July 23rd
Jo Arai def Shuto Aki via TKO (Punches) at 4:41 of R1
Daichi Takenaka def Nobuki Fujii via Decision (Unanimous)
Wataru Yamaouchi def Shingo Yakul via TKO (Punches) at 1:10 of R1
Yuto Sekiguchi def Nobutaka Naito via Decision (Unanimous)
Su Sung Cho Gotoh def Kenji Kato via TKO (Punches) at 4:17 of R3
Shota Takagi def Daiki Yuki via Decision (Majority)
Emi Fujino def Shiho via Submission (Sleeperhold) at 3:06 of R1
Momoka Hoshuyama def Haruka Yoshinari via Decision (Majority)
Yamato Hamamatsu def Teshhin Isobe via Decision (Majority)
Hiroto Nei def Takuma Satomi via Decision (Unanimous)
Kosuke Oishi vs Kosuke Kinoshita ends in Draw (Majority)