However, former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Takanori Gomi stole some of their thunder, as he announced his plan to return to the Shooto ring for the first time in six years. The one-time Shooto 154-pound king will face current champion Takashi Nakakura on May 10 at JCB Hall in Tokyo.
Yuki Shoujou’s willingness to stand toe-to-toe with Kojima (10-3-5) made the main event exciting. In the first round, Shoujou threw kicks and combinations, secured a double under hook clinch and worked for a takedown. “BJ” defended perfectly by supporting himself on the ring post, and, at the last second, he shifted his weight and fell on top of Shoujou.
The second round went much better for Kojima, as he caught Shoujou’s opening kick and used it to secure a takedown. From top position, “BJ” threw punches and timed Shoujou’s attempt to stand with a crisp knee. Towards the end of the round, Kojima threw some wild hooks that landed, and both men stood in front of one another exchanging punches.
The third round started and ended quickly, as Shoujou (8-5-2) clinched Kojima in the corner and attempted a double-leg takedown. “BJ” reacted quickly, as he sprawled and then spun to Shojou’s back, securing a rear-naked choke without hooks. Shoujou tried to free himself, but the choke was deep and he went unconscious; referee Toshiharu Suzuki stepped in and called it off 38 seconds into the third round.
In the co-main event, Ueda showed he deserved his place among the world’s elite.
The second round provided more of the same, as Ueda dropped Tazawa with a right hook and proceeded to pressure, posture and pound. Ueda secured mount and took Tazawa’s back, as he strengthened his foothold in the match. In the third round, Ueda shot in deep, and Tazawa locked his legs around his head and arms. Ueda calmly stood up, walked over to his corner and shook off Tazawa. Near the end of the round, Ueda threw a right hook that wobbled Tazawa (8-4-3), and they exchanged blows until the bell.
Judges scored the match 30-26, 30-27, and 30-27 for Ueda.
In another matchup of bantamweights, Hiromasa Ogikubo took on Tetsu Suzuki.
The first round featured lots of action, as both fighters got takedowns and scrambled back to their feet. Suzuki (8-7-3) went for a scissors takedown and almost secured a foot lock, and, at the end of the round, he scored with a beautiful throw.
For the rest of the match, Ogikubo (6-0-2) countered with kicks to the body when Suzuku came in with punches. Ogikubo also used under hooks and the clinch to dirty box and control the pace of the fight. Compared to Suzuki’s somewhat unorthodox striking, Ogikubo looked more comfortable standing up. Also when Suzuki (8-7-3) managed takedowns, Ogikubo immediately scrambled to his feet, refusing to give the world-class grappler time to work his ground game. In the end, the judges awarded the undefeated Ogikubo a unanimous decision.
Elsewhere, Michiyuki Ishibashi scored the “Knockout of the Night” with his 13-second finish of Takayuki Okochi.
Ishibashi (2-5-1) timed an attempted left kick perfectly and delivered a right straight that landed cleanly and put down Okochi (7-13-3).
Finally, Atsushi Takeuchi won an exciting match against the previously unbeaten Mikitoshi Yamagami. “ATCH Anarchy” used low kicks, overhand lefts and experience to overcome the reach and height advantage of the 21-year-old Yamagami (3-1). Takeuchi (6-4-2) has won two straight.
Kota Onojima def. Takashi Niikuni -- TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) 5:00 R1
Daiji Takahashi drew Masaaki Sugawara
Noboru Tahara drew Takehiro Harusaki