Shoji Saito scored a unanimous decision win over Takuma Sudo at Shooto 0521 on Sunday. The 28 year old continued his fine recent form and now has six wins and a draw from his last five fights.
The opening round saw Saito making his mark with a sharp left jab, swiftly followed by a series of low kicks. Sudotook evasive action and responded with a front left kick.
Saito countered with a powerful right cross, followed by a well-executed right body straight off a feint. Sudo responded by forcing him back against the cage before launching into a double leg.
Sudo soon went for the neck with his right arm but Saito was able to fight off the choke attempt. He switched to an armbar but the 28 year old was able to escape and get to his feet.
Moving into the second round, Saito began by firing off stiff jabs. When Sudo initiated a single leg he exposed his back momentarily, attempting to pull his leg free.
Sudo eventually succeeded in dragging him down but ended up on the bottom. He immediately went to work and grabbed hold of his opponent’s leg, looking for a kneebar or a heel lock.
Saito was clearly in danger of getting submitted but he went on the attack, unleashing a barrage of elbow strikes. Sudo endured the punishment and continued to crank on the leg but couldn’t secure the heel hook.
Entering the final round Sudo attempted to pull guard and ended up sitting down. Saito tried to pick him off with low kicks and was careful to make sure they weren’t caught.
Back on his feet Sudo pressed forward and used a single leg takedown attempt to push Saito into the cage. However his opponent was able to land a hard right hand as he fought off the continual takedown attempts.
The referee was getting bored of seeing Sudo simply sit down in the hope of luring Saito to the ground and gave him a warning. The fight finished with him trying and failing to secure one final takedown.
The judges weren’t impressed with Sudo’s strategy either. All three awarded the bout to Saito who improves to 6-2-1 while his opponent drops to 7-2.
Best of the rest
In the co-main event Hiroshige Tanaka continued his late career renaissance. The 41 year old made it back to back wins with a decision victory over Loibe Neto.
Tanaka is a ONE Championship veteran who also had a stint with Pancrase and has been fighting for the best part of two decades. The win takes him to 15-8 while his Brazilian opponent slips to 6-4.