Jo Arai made history at Shooto on Sunday night. He knocked out Wataru Yamauchi to become the first fighter in the promotion’s history to hold titles in two divisions concurrently.
Arai captured the Shooto strawweight title last year and now holds the flyweight belt too. The 26 year old once went on a seven fight losing streak which lasted for over two years.
He has well and truly turned his career around and has now won 11 in a row capturing two titles in the process. By contrast Yamauchi came into the bout with an unblemished record and was handed his first ever defeat by the resurgent Arai.
In the early stages Arai closed the distance but his opponent used front kicks to keep him at bay. Yamauchi switched strategy and landed left and right hooks but took a glancing straight right hand to the face for his troubles.
Flurry of punches
Yamauchi aimed a flurry of punches at Arai, who countered with two left hooks which found their mark. He was continually finding the mark with this shot but found himself on the receiving end of a head kick just before the bell.
At the start of the second round Yamauchi’s right eye looked swollen. Arai engaged with an inside leg-kick only to be countered by a left jab and a low kick.
Yamauchi was picking up the pace but got hit with another left hook. After trading jabs Arai started to land left hands to the body as both men traded hard punches.
Yamauchi appeared to get the better of the exchanges as Arai tried and failed to secure a takedown. The undefeated flyweight seemed to be on top at this stage and his opponent briefly turned his back to escape the punishment.
Arai stirred up the crowd in the third and landed a right cross to the body. Yamauchi scored a left jab and a left kick finishing the combination with a left hook to the body.
Yamauchi show for a double leg which was stuffed and was starting to look fatigued. Arai hit him with a right to the body, a left hook, and a right hook.
He then blocked a jab before dropping the Chiba-native with a beautiful right cross. A right hand missed the target before a final, powerful right sealed the deal and left Yamauchi flatlined with the finish coming at the 2:55 mark.
It was a dramatic way for Arai to capture his second title. He improves to 16-9-2 and extends his winning streak to 11 while his opponent drops to 6-1.
Best of the rest
In the c0-main Shota Takagi knocked out Caol Uno in the first round to extend his take his record to 2-2. The 48-year-old is now at 34-23-5 and riding a three-fight losing streak.