In the final minute of the fight, with Ribeiro (1-0) showing signs of fatigue, he unleashed one last attempt to finish Sugiura. He landed with punches and followed with a right knee that sent Sugiura (1-3) into the corner. Ribeiro then delivered another knee that opened a sizable cut over his opponent’s eye and forced the stoppage 4:18 into round three.
While it may not have been the debut the mixed martial arts world was expecting from the five-time BJJ world champion, Ribeiro was upbeat.
“I think it was a great experience, a totally different world for me,” he said. “I think today I walked inside the ring as a man, and I walked out a different man.
Ribeiro set the tone for the bout early, when he opened up with a right hand, followed with a high kick and attempted a takedown against Sugiura. Later in the first round, the Brazilian succeeded in his attempt to push the fight to the ground after he stunned his opponent with a straight right and followed with a double-leg takedown.
After struggling past a half-guard lockdown, Ribeiro moved to mount and delivered some ground-and-pound. However, he failed to secure an armbar as the round drew to a close. Sugiura proved a worthy test for Ribeiro and thwarted his takedowns in the second round. Not until the closing seconds of the period did Ribeiro manage to get him on the ground, and by that time he had little time with which to work.
Ribeiro turned up the heat in the third and ultimately finished Sugiura, who fought for the first time in two and a half years.
The quest to find Kazuo Misaki a worthy opponent got under way, as eight men from six countries entered the quarter-finals of the Sengoku middleweight grand prix.
American Top Team’s Jorge Santiago proved too tall a task for bearded Minnesotan Logan Clark to overcome.
Clark (11-3) survived a kimura attempted and struck well in the first, but his luck ran out in the second. Santiago (18-7) secured takedown and, after missing with an armbar, coaxed the tapout with an arm triangle choke 3:35 into the second round.
In his first trip to 185 pounds, Kazuhiro Nakamura easily managed to outwork Golden Glory’s Paul Cahoon. Nakamura’s superior footwork was the story of the fight, as it allowed him to score with solid right hands from the outside. Cahoon was left flat-footed and frustrated, unable to reach his opponent. All three judges sided with Nakamura (12-8), and while he controlled the action, he never seriously hurt Cahoon (10-12).
Another quarter-final ended in unfortunate fashion.
Siyar Bahadurzada promised violence at the pre-fight press conference, and though his bout with Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos induced pain, it was not in the manner expected. Santos landed with better effect in the opening exchange and forced Bahadurzada to try for an early takedown.
Santos (16-12) spun inside a body lock during the takedown and landed in mount. However, as he posted out, the Brazilian gruesomely dislocated his elbow, forcing an immediate stoppage just 22 seconds into the match. Oblivious to the fact that a freak injury brought him to victory, Bahadurzada (14-3-1) mounted the ring ropes and let out a scream as Santos was carried out on a stretcher.
In a fight most viewed as a potential snooze fest, Yuki Sasaki submitted Yuki Kondo with a second-round rear naked choke to move into the grand prix semi-finals. After an uneventful first round that featured circling from both men, Sasaki secured a takedown in the second and went to work. He secured back control on Kondo, sank in the choke and forced the tapout out 1:08 into the round.
Ribeiro was not the only MMA rookie to impress at Sengoku V.
Muhammed “Mo” Lawal dispatched veteran Travis Wiuff with surprising ease. After gyrating his way to the ring with a troupe of dancers, Lawal (1-0) used swift footwork to dart in and out with punches and keep his foe on his toes. After he faked a shot, Lawal leaped in with a Superman punch, stunned Wiuff (53-12) and sent him reeling into the ropes. Lawal then scored with an easy double leg and pounded away for the stoppage just 2:11 into the fight.
“I’m taking out all bums -- anyone who is trying to run into my kingdom with my four queens,” Lawal said. “I gotta defend them. Look how good they look.”
In a highly anticipated lightweight showdown, Jorge Masvidal stopped International Fight League champion Ryan Schultz with first-round ground-and-pound. Masvidal (14-3-1) countered a Schultz one-two combination, landed a crisp straight right and followed with a flying knee that sent Schultz (20-11-1) to the canvas. He then finished the Team Quest standout with strikes on the ground; the end came 1:57 into round one.
In another non-tournament lightweight affair, Kiuma Kunioku’s submission attempts and ground control earned him a unanimous decision over A Sol Kwon’s stomps and striking. Kunioku (34-22-9) has now won three straight fights.