ONE Championship’s Japan debut in March this year was a resounding success, and since then many Japanese MMA and kickboxing fighters have been scrambling for action against the world class competition that the promotion offers.
On Sunday, September 1, Studio Coast in Tokyo played host to a lineup of top Pancrase and Shooto fighters on a show peppered with Japan’s hungriest kickboxing prospects on the aptly named Road To ONE: ‘Century’.
The card featured twelve high level bouts, the winner of each appealing for a slot on ONE Championship’s high-profile 100th show in Tokyo on October 13th.
The main event featured former KSW Featherweight Champion, Kleber Koike-Erbst (25-5-1) and Shooto, Dream, and Rizin veteran Akiyo Nishiura (14-9-1).
Koike took a win over Rizin star Yusuke Yachi in Pancrase before signing with Polish promotion, KSW, and winning the 145lb belt in the East European promotion.
The bout started with a relaxed and confident looking Nishiura clad in his trademark pink fight pants and pink dyed hair. Nishiura caught Koike’s leg from a kick, but as soon as they went to the ground, the BJJ stud went for the kill looking for a heel hook.
“Wicky” escaped danger, but Koike moved straight for Nishiura’s back, and following a quick scramble, went for the Krazy Bee fighter’s neck and transitioned from a D’arce choke attempt to ninja choke finish.
The co-main event saw Tribe Tokyo MMA fighter and former King of Pancrase Champion, Kiyotaka Shimizu (23-15-3) face fellow Pancrase veteran, Taiki Akiba (10-8-1).
Shimizu came out somewhat flat-footed, and the speed advantage seemed in favor of Akiba. However, the experience and championship material of the Tribe Tokyo MMA star shone through as he waited for Akiba to over commit himself in an attack.
He clipped him with a perfectly timed fade away counter left hook, sending Akiba to the canvas unable to stand again.
After all but one of twelve matches ended in KO or submission, ONE Championship Japan President, Andy Hata, expressed his satisfaction commenting on the show, ‘This is like a dream’.