TOKYO, Sept. 8 -- A busy week of Japanese mixed martial arts was capped off Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd of just over 1,200 at Differ Ariake with the fourth installment of Cage Force's welterweight and lightweight tournaments.
With the lofty goal of sending tournament winners to the UFC, Cage Force chose to adopt the Unified Rules of MMA, however an unintentional side-effect forced lightweight semifinalist Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures) off tonight's card due to a 90-day suspension following the Russian's knockout loss at the last K-1 HERO'S.
Thus, tonight's main event between Koutetsu Boku (Pictures) and Eiji Mitsuoka (Pictures) served as the lone lightweight tournament bout.
Coming in with the aim to box, Boku was put down early by a Mitsuoka double-leg and defended from the bottom as the Wajyutsu rep rained down punches and elbows.
Boku opened his guard in an attempt to hip his way out from underneath Mitsuoka, who stubbornly stayed in the center where he was able to drop hooks, hammers, and more elbows. With Boku escaping only toward the round's end, a Mitsuoka knee to the face followed by elbows against the cage closed out a dominant first round.
Sticking to his guns, Boku returned to the striking plan in the second stanza, meeting with a bit more success as he convinced Mitsuoka to stand with him.
Although Boku's technical boxing skills ensured that his constant jabs found their mark, it was Mitsuoka's harder punch counters that evened out the exchanges. Winging punches as either man charged in, Mitsuoka looked to transition from the clinch to takedowns, but his growing fatigue helped Boku remain standing.
Boku's patience and continued barrage of jabs paid off by the third period as the Killer Bee continued to sting with multiple lefts and the occasional right straight, further sapping the energy from a tiring Mitsuoka. Otherwise unable to continue taking his opponent down or offer much more in the form of accurate counter punches, Boku pulled ahead and took the third round.
With the first period clearly going to Mitsuoka, and the third to Boku, the point of contention came down to the middle round, as two judges scored the bout in favor of Boku, with one dissenting and favoring Mitsuoka.
With this win, Boku advances to the finals to face the winner of Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures) and Tomonori Kanomata, whose fight date has not been announced.
In one half of the eve's welterweight tourney semifinals, not even Hidetaka Monma (Pictures)'s countless submission attempts could stop Cage Warriors' Dan Hardy (Pictures) from smashing his opponent into submission after three rounds of blistering ground-and-pound.
Looking savvier on the feet than Monma, Hardy sent his opponent to the canvas in each round and continued pounding on the Japanese fighter. Paying no heed to Monma's nigh-innumerable triangle-to-armbar attempts, the Briton wasted no time by escaping and charging back into his opponent's guard to dish out further punishment, busting Monma up with hammer fists, body shots, and lunging punches from standing.
By the third period, a tired and thoroughly battered Monma fell prey to a smashing three-punch counter combo that rocked and put him back on the mat. In the face of even more punishment, Monma's corner threw in the towel 28 seconds in, giving Hardy the win to advance to the welterweight tournament finals.
In what was largely thought to be a tournament tailor-made for the Killer Bees, judoka Yoshiyuki Yoshida (Pictures) surprised by derailing the team's welterweight offering in Akira Kikuchi (Pictures), pounding him out in devastating fashion.
With Kikuchi pursuing the takedown after being rocked by a quick high kick in the opening moments, Yoshida kept his cool and reversed position from under the mount by initially giving up his back only to shake Kikuchi onto the mat, where he began pounding with powerful shots from standing.
Under the pressure of Yoshida's assault from above, Kikuchi looked to isolate his opponent's punches by holding his wrists, to which Yoshida wisely responded to by swiveling his arms around for crushing elbows to the face.
Despite Kikuchi's best efforts to trap an arm for the armbar under this new onslaught, Yoshida's elbow blitz smashed the Bee for nearly one whole minute before the referee intervened to call the bout at 4:33 in the first round, awarding Yoshida the dominant TKO victory. Yoshida now advances to the finals of the welterweight tournament to face Hardy.
Before being unceremoniously knocked out by Japanese bomber Hiroyuki Takaya (Pictures), Jarrod Card gave his opponent a decent workout by forcing him to defend repeated takedown attempts.
Answering Takaya's assaults with clinches against the cage followed by single-leg attempts, Card's quest to put the fight on the floor were all but in vain as Takaya refused to go down, maintaining good balance and spinning out to take the center of the ring upon escaping.
The end came when Takaya, after breaking out from the clinch, delivered a picture-perfect left hook to the jaw that put the American flat out on the mat. After two more punches to the unconscious Card, the referee stepped in to call the bout at 3:02 of the first round.
Featherweights Masahiro Oishi (Pictures) and Taiyo Nakahara (Pictures) had a brief but heated bout. Both men charged to the center of the cage and neither gave room for the other to back down as they traded heavy and well-timed counter shots.
With Oishi cutting off the cage and pursuing with powerful combinations, Nakahara surprised by responding in kind, which escalated the exchanges. Though both men's punches more or less found their marks, it was Oishi who took home the victory by merit of landing a shot that closed his opponent's right eye completely shut, forcing the doctor stop at 3:55 in the first round.
Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) made Kentaro Imaizumi (Pictures)'s night a little worse after outworking the samboist for a three round unanimous decision.
Showing good balance early in the fight by keeping the tenacious Mizugaki from taking him down, Imaizumi eventually conceded and tired under the constant pressure of having to defend Mizugaki's heavy bombs from above.
An Achilles lock attempt in the second stanza was Imaizumi's lone bright spot. As the fight progressed into the third Mizugaki's top-position blitzes dominated Imaizumi, allowing the 2005 Shooto rookie MVP to take his back and pound him out till the final horn.
Purebred's ISE took home a unanimous decision victory against Satoshi Nishino (Pictures) after two rounds of hard-fought positioning and pounding.
With either man scoring takedowns on each other throughout the bout, it was ISE's positional dominance and tendency to stand out of Nishino's guard to drop heavy hands from on high -- paying no heed to the risk of getting up-kick KO'd -- that won the judges over.
Opening a cut above the right eye of his opponent in an early exchange, Do Won So defeated Tetsuo Sato by referee stop at 1:28 in the first round.
In the evening's preliminary bouts, Yuji Fujioka knocked out Shuji Morikawa at 3:19 in the first round with a right hook.
Daisuke Hoshino took out KEN-1 at the 2:47 mark in the first via armbar, with Naoki Miyamoto executing the same against Atsushi Masukura at 1:50 into the first round.
Killer Bee's Hiroshi Arakawa notched a win over Junji Komatsu after a two round unanimous decision.
In line with his previously cryptic statements regarding "practicing to use his elbows," Pancrase welterweight golden boy Satoru Kitaoka (Pictures) notified tonight's audience of his intention to participate in Cage Force's December card. No opponent was indicated, however.