Sherdog finally posted an article with the results. Here it is.
Aoki Proves it Was No Fluke, Defends Shooto Belt
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February 17, 2007
by Tony Loiseleur (email@example.com)
YOKOHAMA, Japan, Feb. 17 — One year ago today, at Yoyogi Second Gymnasium, Shooto crowned its eighth world middleweight champion in Shinya Aoki (Pictures), a grappling prodigy that would become one of Japan’s most valuable fighters in 2006.
Having wrested the belt from Akira Kikuchi (Pictures), their rematch one year to the date of their first encounter would supposedly prove whether or not Aoki had simply caught an unsuspecting Kikuchi by surprise, or if Aoki truly was the next big thing in Japanese MMA.
At least … that was the idea.
If anything, tonight’s result may not make the picture as clear as many of us had originally hoped, but it does bring us somewhat closer to that elusive truth, if even there is one to be had.
The final verdict: while neither man completely dominated the other, Shinya Aoki (Pictures) and Akira Kikuchi (Pictures) are both some of the best that Japan has to offer. Kikuchi is still an opponent that should not to be taken lightly, and Aoki is indeed a grappling wizard. His third round domination of Kikuchi in their 2006 encounter was also no fluke. Two rounds of superlative grappling control along with cunning use and improvisation of the rubber guard in the 2007 chapter of the Aoki-Kikuchi saga proves that Aoki is truly something special when it comes to grappling.
The bout opened with Aoki and Kikuchi entering into the clinch, with Aoki attempting to pull guard by snaking his right leg around Kikuchi’s back and holding it with his hand, rubber-guard style. As Kikuchi attempted to free himself from Aoki’s revised rubber-guard, Aoki proceeded to isolate and attack Kikuchi’s right arm in what appeared to be a standing Kimura.
As can be expected from the rugged Killer Bee product however, Kikuchi toughed out the submission attempt, biding his time until he could take Aoki to the mat. Unfortunately, the challenger’s “escape” landed him into a fully cinched triangle that only miraculously was not called as a catch. Kikuchi toughed out this submission attempt as well, riding it out while dropping some heavy punches onto Aoki’s face until the round’s end.
Aside from the heavy leather flying at Aoki during his extraordinary grappling displays, it was for all intents and purposes a dominant round for the Shooto middleweight champion.
Round two began slowly, with Kikuchi much more tentative thanks to Aoki’s unpredictability and grappling prowess. It seemed as if Kikuchi was frozen in place, lost in thought, trying to figure out just what to do in order to gain the upper hand without giving away a limb, while Aoki, likewise inactive, patiently waited for his opening.
Kikuchi did briefly score a takedown however, which almost translated into side-control if not for Aoki’s wiliness, reversing it into an armbar attempt that Kikuchi was only barely able to roll out of. After another scramble with Aoki reversing Kikuchi’s attempt to seize control of his back, the round closed out with Kikuchi in Aoki’s guard, once again attempting to rain down heavy punches to the grappler on the bottom.
The final period saw less mat time and more clinch action, as Kikuchi opted to press Aoki into the ring corners and deliver foot stomps and knees — one of which resulted in a low-blow, bringing the fight to a temporary stop.
With Aoki holding on in the clinches and stuffing a last ditch takedown effort however, it seemed as if Kikuchi’s clinch knees may have been for naught, as the Tobikan Judan eked out another victory, although this time by split decision (29–28, 29-28, 28-30).
Upon the successful defense of the 167-pound title, Aoki gave his respects to Kikuchi, proclaiming him to be a strong and formidable opponent, followed by his announcement that he will be competing as the Shooto representative in this year’s PRIDE lightweight grand prix.
Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) successfully took Mizuto Hirota (Pictures) through three rounds to win a unanimous decision and the Shooto Pacific Rim welterweight championship. While Hirota came blazing right out of the box with heavy punches aimed at putting Nakakura flat on his back, the Shooting Gym Osaka head trainer countered well, earning him a good deal of points and the eventual right hook knockdown in the second round.
Hirota was not discouraged however. He tenaciously pressed forward, throwing crisp combinations and a grazing flying knee as he looked to get in that one lucky shot to put Nakakura away.
Though the match is probably best described as largely being a showcase of both fighters’ boxing prowess, it was amusing to see the ending moments of the bout with Nakakura breaking pattern by executing an unexpected somersault-spinning heel kick, and Hirota answering with a flying hand chop.
In what many had considered the Shooto Commission’s somewhat transparent attempt to stick the Pacific Rim lightweight title on Tenkei Fujimiya (Pictures), Akitoshi Tamura (Pictures) threw a monkey wrench into those plans.
The plan was simple: pair Fujimiya up with an opponent he handily knocked out in only two minutes just nine months ago, and his previous unfortunate title encounter with Katsuya Toida (Pictures) could be forever forgotten once he had acquired the title in spectacular knockout fashion.
Tamura, however, would have none of that.
The first round saw Fujimiya loading up his punches — apparently hoping one would get through for a repeat performance of their previous encounter — while Tamura kept his opponent at bay with a variety of well-placed and well-timed low- and mid-kicks.
In the middle frame, Tamura managed to seize control of Fujimiya’s back for a majority of the round, nearly sinking a rear-naked choke before being reversed by Fujimiya, who ended up on top in the judo press where he was able to rain down several punches to the face before the bell.
Round three saw both men somewhat fatigued, with Tamura’s constant takedowns attempts stuffed. His persistence paid off as the judges unanimously voted him the victor (29–28, 29–28, 29–27) crowning him as the new, albeit unexpected, Pacific Rim lightweight champion.
Post-fight, Tamura vowed to fight all the STG Yokohama opponents he had faced previously, having it culminate in the hunt for “Lion” Takeshi’s title.
Speaking of the young lightweight world champion, the non-title bout between Takeshi Inoue (Pictures) and Hiroyuki Abe “Ani” ended in a spectacular knockout victory for the young “Lion” — as was expected and foretold by many an MMA sage.
However, it did not come before “Abe Ani” himself was able to showcase a little bit of fireworks of his own. Rushing out to meet Takeshi with a flying knee that quickly turned into a diving heel-hook into kneebar attempt, Abe managed to drop Inoue with a hard right hook for an eight-count knockdown midway through round one. Inoue, however, recovered quickly and answered back with a right hook of his own, countering an incoming flurry from Abe, that put the seasoned veteran flat on his back for the knockout victory at 4:05 into the first round.
The welterweight rematch between Yusuke Endo (Pictures) and Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures) ended in a unanimous victory decision for Endo, who brought the fight to Tentsuku by employing crisp, surgical punch counters to Tentsuku’s devastatingly heavy, but largely overshot combos.
Endo’s counters enabled him to dictate the bout’s pace and, for the most part, quell the raging storm that has become the typical modus operandi of the PUREBRED Omiya rep.
In the clinch, Endo was able to beat Tentsuku to the punch (quite literally) with a combination of dirty boxing and stiff uppercuts that only served to further frustrate the heavy hitter. While Tentsuku was no slouch in any of the three rounds with his relentless attacks, his few takedowns and takedown attempts at the end of the second and third proved to be too little too late to sway the judges’ decision in his favor.
For the record, Tentsuku did not once touch gloves with Endo for all three rounds — much like in their last encounter — despite repeated attempts by Endo to do so. (Neither did he meet Endo’s corner at the end of the match either, instead opting to storm off as Endo was announced the unanimous decision winner.)
In yet another welterweight bout this evening, Kotetsu Boku took on a game Kenichiro Togashi (Pictures) to a split draw. While briefly in trouble during the second round in what could have been a repeat performance of their first encounter, Togashi was able to secure an armbar attempt off of a reversed Boku takedown. Despite this, Boku appeared to have learned his lesson and managed to escape, allowing him to control the center of the ring for a majority of the bout, imposing his stiff jab while showboating and sticking his chin out to taunt Togashi as opportunities permitted.
All antics ceased in the third round when Togashi’s counter punching stepped up a notch and began to find their mark on the Killer Bee. That, along with a stiff right jab followed by a hard left hook from the crafty southpaw put the scorecards at even at the end of the third round, with both men busily trading, desperate for the one knockdown to gain the breakthrough upper hand.
It was, alas, not to be, as the judges ruled the match a split draw (30–28 Boku, 30–28 Togashi, 30–30).
Finally tonight, in the evening’s only featherweight bout, Atsushi Yamamoto (Pictures) outwrestled and controlled a tentative Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) for the unanimous decision victory. As the only one taking shots for takedowns on what appeared to be an injured Mizugaki (whose left leg and foot were extensively wrapped and bandaged), Yamamoto managed to out-position and dominate his foe for the final two rounds of the bout.
Mizugaki, who had little to offer outside of a few weak triangle attempts, essentially laid himself down to be steamrolled by Yamamoto.
In other happenings this evening, Rumina Sato (Pictures) announced his participation on March 16’s Shooto card at Korakuen Hall, claiming that he would face the No. 2-ranked Shooto Europe representative, though he, along with everyone else in the building, could not remember what that person’s name was.
Also, BJ Kojima and Yasuhiro Urushitani (Pictures) made their title match for the March 16 card official this evening when both men signed their contract for the event in front of tonight’s audience. Urushitani made it known that he has been waiting three years for this chance, and that he will do his best to seize the opportunity. Kojima stated that he would do his best as well, and is ready for the challenge after studying Urushitani extensively.
“Never violate a woman, nor harm a child. Do not lie ,cheat ,or steal.for selfish gain. These things are for lesser men. Protect the weak against the evil strong. And never allow thoughts of gain to lead you into the pursuit of evil. Never back away from an enemy. Either fight or surrender. It is not enough to say I will not be evil. Evil must be fought wherever it is found.”
The Iron Code