Keisuke Sasu defended his featherweight title at Shooto 1903 on Sunday with a knockout win over Takeo Iida in Tokyo. He has long had his sights set on a spot at the top table of MMA and is still smarting from an unsuccessful Road to UFC stint last year.

Sasu suffered a first round submission loss to China’s Zha Yi in Singapore. Despite returning to winning ways with a unanimous decision against Balajin in Abu Dhabi the 28 year old failed to secure a contract.

The loss to Yi is the only recent blemish on his record and he returned to Shooto having won eight of his last nine fights. Iida earned his shot at the crown having put together four straight wins for the promotion.

Sasu closed the distance and struck with a calf kick early on. The reigning champion continued to attack with the low kick before closing the distance but soon ate a right cross from Iida.

Takeo Iida punches Keisuke Sasu

Keisuke Takazawa

Finishing blow

Iida later threw a hook and fond a home for the jab with the same hand. He soon cracked Sasu with left and right punches.

Sasa caught a low kick and responded with a right hand. He soon countered Iida’s right leg kick with a kick to the body and finished the round strongly, cracking his opponent with a jab, hook and an elbow.

The champ threw Iida to the canvas in the second round. The Grachan veteran responded with a kimura attempt when the pair found their feet.

Both fighters traded solid punches in the centre of the ring but the finishing blow from Sasu came in spectacular fashion. Iida threw a right cross in the centre of the cage only for Sasu to fire back with a spinning back elbow that left his man folded.

Keisuke Sasu faces Takeo Iida at a Shooto fight

Keisuke Takazawa

Fresh start

The finish came at the 1:49 mark and was the fourth knockout of his career. Sasu extends his record to 11-2-1 after successfully defending the belt he won at Shooto 0725 for the first time while Iida slides t0 12-6-2.

After the fight Sasu said,

“Last year, I challenged my dream overseas and came back with a disappointing result. I have never forgotten the frustration I felt at that time. I have sacrificed everything to face martial arts. I want to praise myself for just today because I was able to fight in my own way. Me and my teammate Shohei Nose will make a fresh start towards our dream, the UFC, this year.”

Shooto 1903, March 19th, Tokyo
Keisuke Sasu def Tateo Iida via TKO (Spinning back elbow and punches) at 1:49 of R2
Jo Arai def Yuto Sekiguchi via Decision (Unanimous)
Shuto Aki def Ryuto Sawada via TKO (Punches) at 3:49 of R1
Max Sugimoto def Kazumasa Sugawara via TKO at 1:18 of R1
Kaisei Takehara vs. Taira Uehara ends in draw
Shohei Nose def Takumi Arai via Submission (Arm lock) at 2:53 of R1
Soo Sung Cho def Akira Enomoto via Submission (Rear naked choke) at 4:52 of R1