Taiga Iwasaki bounced back into the win column at Shooto 0924 on Sunday. He secured a unanimous decision victory over Kim Eun-Soo in a middleweight fight which headlined the card at the Korakuen Hall.
The hometown favorite entered the main event bout after experiencing the first setback in his undefeated record, suffering a first-round submission defeat to former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr last December. On paper, Kim Eun-Soo seemed to present a much less formidable challenge, having lost his previous four.
Kim displayed his striking prowess early in the contest, delivering a powerful right straight followed by a right hook. However, Iwasaki initiated a grappling exchange, utilizing a bodylock to push his opponent against the cage.
The Japanese fighter absorbed a knee strike but countered with a leg sweep left kick, securing a takedown. In a relentless back-and-forth battle, he skilfully manoeuvred his opponent, utilising knees and heel kicks to chip away at the visitor.
Iwasaki later executed a clean takedown with a left elbow strike, transitioning to a dominant mount position. The 26-year-old then attempted a back triangle submission, but Kim Eun-soo managed to stand up and escape, reversing the position.
In the second round, Iwasaki unleashed two left-handed shots to the midsection. The Road FC alumnus countered with a right hook, extending his right arm to push Iwasaki against the cage.
Iwasaki executed a sweep, taking his opponent to the mat. Both fighters regained their footing, with Iwasaki continuing to press Kim against the cage. After a brief separation, Iwasaki capitalized with a knee strike to the body.
Iwasaki eventually brought the former Top FC man to the ground again, landing a left punch followed by an elbow. Kim protested an alleged blow to the back of the head, but the referee allowed the fight to continue.
As Iwasaki relentlessly delivered punches and elbows, ‘Hulk’ appeared visibly fatigued. With only ten seconds remaining on the clock, Iwasaki transitioned from a triangle hold to a figure-four lock, delivering a final flurry of hammer fists.
Kicks and punches
In the final round, Iwasaki landed left kicks high and low. Kim responded with a right front kick and a right hook, but the Japanese fighter distanced himself with another well-timed kick.
As Kim attempted another right hook, Iwasaki engaged in close-quarters grappling, driving his right elbow into his opponent. In a last-ditch effort, Kim grazed Iwasaki’s face with a right hand, but the Pancrase veteran clinched and outmaneuvered him.
Iwasaki unleashed some well-timed elbows, and a front kick to the lower abdomen which prompted the referee to momentarily stop the match and give the Korean time to recover. After the restart the Japanese fighter delivered another high left kick while maintaining his distance.
The end result was a unanimous decision win for Iwasaki who moves up to 9-1 and bounces back from the first defeat of his career. Kim drops to 7-8 and has now lost his last five.
Best of the rest
In the co-main event at bantamweight Tomoya Hirakawa ( 13-7)earned a unanimous decision victory over Toshihiro Shimizu (28-20-11). The long-time Shooto veteran has regained his form and made it three wins in a row here.