Shooto kicked off their 2021 campaign with a double show in Tokyo on Sunday. No fewer than 14 fights took place at the New Pier Hall with the event divided into two parts.
In the Shooto 0131 headliner Keisuke Sasu retained the Shooto Pacific Rim Featherweight Championship with a second round submission win over challenger and roots competitor Taison Naito.
Naito pummeled Master Japan standout with shots in round one before the champion regained control with a timely takedown. Midway through the second stanza Sasu sunk in a rear naked choke and the Roots representative had no choice but to concede the title bout.
The tap came at the 2:30 mark and saw Sasu improve to 8-1-1 and extend his winning streak to six, a run dating all the way back to 2016. Naito drops to 10-8-1.
Teruto Ishihara fell to the unheralded Kazuma Sone by decision. The UFC veteran had lost five of his last six going into the fight but was still a strong favourite ahead of his Shooto return.
In his first fight in his homeland since 2017, Ishihara, produced a typically engaging fight with action aplenty but Sone took over the fight as it went on to earn the decision.
Ishihara had some success with his high kicks initially but Sone responded with a solid takedown only for Ishihara to work his way back up to his feet before landing a pair of elbows with his foe up against the cage.
At times Sone was wild with his offence, opening himself up to punishment, but when he did land, Ishihara looked in trouble and suffered a flash knockdown in the second before trying to illustrate that he was fine by landing a left high-kick.
Ishihara slipped out of a half-hearted rear naked choke by Sone but it was the former who prevailed on the scorecards. He moves up to 24-20 while the UFC veteran slips to 10-8.
The highlight of the first show was the co-main event which saw Quintet favourite Sotaro Yamada return to MMA after a three-year break from the sport with a trademark win by heel hook in the first round. The freakishly strong Yamada has had success in the world of submission grappling.
He has often been a show stealer for Team Carpe Diem in Quintet but was caught by a combination from Congo-born Gunter Kalunda. The Japanese fighter quickly adjusted to capture a leg and aim for the submission.
He had a heel hook locked in and the tap came at the 1:08 mark. Yamada sees his record improve to 13-6-2 while former EFC Welterweight champ Kalunda drops to 6-3.
Best of the rest
Hayato Sasaki (1-0) stopped Naoto Terashima (0-1) in round two in a buzzer-beating stoppage. Terashima was backed up against the cage and Sasaki unloaded punch after punch, while the former tried to reply but was barely standing and the referee stepped in as both men earned plaudits in their pro debuts.
In the main event of the afternoon show Nobuki Fuji (22-11) and Kenji Kato (11-8) collided and the former prevailed by decision. He used all his experience to recover from absorbing a lot of punishment including a busted lip and grind out a decision win.
Teenager Yamato Nishikawa (13-3) stopped Max Moleke (8-7) in the second round. The 18 year old took the contest to the ground and, after working to take the back, the former started to pepper the well-travelled African fighter with shots to the side of the head.
Tribe Tokyo MMA’s Hayato Ishii (16-3) defeated the overmatched Yoshizumi Kobayashi (2-5) with an armbar to record his 16th MMA win and received a nod of approval from his cage side coach Ryo Chonan.