TOKYO, March 26 -- As the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics played the second game in their series right next door in the Tokyo Dome, Pancrase lit up MMA mecca Korakuen Hall on Wednesday with the second event in its 2008 Shining Tour.
The main event featured a battle for the featherweight division's No. 1 contender spot between Pancrase veteran Miki Shida (Pictures) and Brazilian prospect Marlon Sandro (Pictures).
Sandro used his reach well, forcing Shida to backpedal for the majority of the fight. In the second round, the Brazilian connected with a well-timed uppercut that had Shida staggered. The Nova Uniao fighter capitalized on the advantage, charging forward with punches and eventually scoring a takedown.
Shida worked his way back to his feet, but the end was close at hand. Just as the Japanese fighter was coming in, Sandro connected with a textbook flying knee to the head. From there, Sandro rushed in with punches to finish off his dazed opponent via knockout at the 4:19 mark.
With the win, Sandro will move on to face current Pancrase featherweight champion Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures) later this year.
Former Rings and Pride fighter Hiromitsu Kanehara (Pictures) stepped out of retirement to take on current Pancrase middleweight champion Izuru Takeuchi (Pictures).
Sporting a 14-18-1 record, Kanehara doesn't look like that great of a fighter on paper. One has to keep in mind, however, that throughout his career he has been thrown into the ring against the toughest fighters of many different promotions. No matter how badly the cards are stacked against him, the Japanese journeyman always gives 100 percent.
His bout against Takeuchi didn't really set the ring on fire, though, largely due to Takeuchi's style of pinning him to the mat. Kanehara spent most of his time going for a kimura, and Takeuchi constantly pushed him into the corner and got around to his back.
Throughout the fight Takeuchi got the takedowns and pretty much controlled the pace. Toward the end Kanehara received a yellow card from the referee for holding the ropes to prevent a takedown.
The somewhat drawn-out bout went the full three rounds, with the unanimous decision being awarded to Takeuchi, 30-29 and 30-28 twice.
Russian fighter Alavutdin Gadzhiyev (Pictures) proved just what kind of power he has in his hands during his battle against the ever-eccentric Hikaru Sato (Pictures). None of Gadzhiyev's four fights in Pancrase have gone more than 65 seconds, and three have ended by TKO.
However, Sato got the takedown early and quickly transitioned to the mount. As the Pancrase veteran started raining down punches, Gadzhiyev basically split the atom in MMA terms -- punching up from the ground and actually knocking out his opponent.
The knockout, which came at the 1:20 mark of the first round, was a true testament to the power that the Russian has behind his punches. It's nearly impossible to throw a punch off your back, let alone knock someone out with it, and to do all this while your opponent is sitting on top of you throwing punches is truly awe-inspiring.
With the incredible win, Gadzhiyev will almost surely get a shot at Izuru Takeuchi (Pictures)'s middleweight title.
Pancraseism's Takafumi Ito (Pictures) faced off against Nova Uniao's Hacran Dias (Pictures) in a tough bout. Both fighters displayed very good takedown defense in the first and second rounds, but the most exciting action happened in the third.
After briefly scoring a takedown, Ito went for a rolling kneebar attempt. Dias escaped and took his opponent's back, but Ito quickly twisted into the guard before the Brazilian could capitalize on the position. Ito once again went for the leg submission in the final seconds, but he couldn't sink it in before the final bell.
The fight went to the judges and was ruled a draw.
Kenji Arai (Pictures) and Shinsuke Shoji (Pictures) put on a great performance in their lightweight battle. Arai displayed good timing with his hands, often catching his opponent with punches as he was coming in. He also used his knees to nullify Shoji's takedown attempts.
For his part, Shoji put on a dirty boxing clinic, peppering Arai with short hooks and uppercuts in the clinch. Arai took a lot of damage from this tactic in the first, and he was looking pretty rough during the intermission. The Pancraseism fighter rallied back, though, and landed a big high kick in the opening of the third before rolling for a nice kneebar attempt.
Arai looked as if he had the match in the closing seconds of the third. He caught Shoji with a big jumping knee, but the iron-jawed Krazy Bee fighter shrugged it off and kept pushing forward all the way to the final bell.
The fight went to the judges, and Shoji took the unanimous decision, 30-28 on all three cards.
Shoji's teammate, Michihisa Asano (Pictures), displayed his wrestling prowess against Yuichiro Shirai (Pictures) by constantly shooting in and getting the takedown. Although Shirai had some good triangle attempts off his back, he couldn't really compete against Asano's ground control.
Asano kept the Krazy Bee fighter reacting to his pressure and took the majority decision, 19-19 and 20-19 twice.
Pancraseism's Masahiro Toryu (Pictures) was quite good at getting the takedowns in his bout against Takenori Sato (Pictures). He didn't do anything on the ground, though, other than punch from the guard.
Sato was active off his back, always going for kimuras and armbars, but he couldn't manage to finish the submission attempts he started. His best chance came toward the end of the first when he had a strong armbar attempt. However, Toryu performed an equally impressive bridge to escape the technique, and the fight was eventually scored a draw.
In other action, Takada Dojo's Tomoyoshi Iwamiya (Pictures) slugged it out with Tomoki Honda. After two rounds, Iwamiya picked up the decision, 20-18 and 20-19 twice.