Leading Shooto promoter Sustain this week began slating its final fights of 2011 and first bouts of 2012, including a January showdown between two of the Japanese organization’s top bantamweights.
Promotion officials Monday announced that former 132-pound world champ Masakatsu Ueda will square off against unbeaten prospect Kyoji Horiguchi on Jan. 8 as part of Shooto “Survivor Tournament Final” at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The event will be headlined by the titular tourney finale between Guy Delumeau and Wataru Miki, the winner of which will bring home Shooto’s vacant Pacific Rim 143-pound belt.
Also confirmed for the Jan. 8 card is a Pac-Rim 132-pound title bout, with newly minted champ Hiromasa Ogikubo taking on eccentric ground specialist Tetsu “Hadairo” Suzuki, and a 168-pound affair between ex-champs Keita Nakamura and Yoichiro Sato.
Ueda, 33, has won four in a row since dropping his title, most recently retiring Royler Gracie in a September bout at 155 pounds. His opponent, 21-year-old fireball Horiguchi, is perfect through six pro outings and knocked out three straight opponents in 2011 after becoming a Shooto rookie champion in 2010.
Meanwhile, Shooto’s latest batch of rookie champs will be crowned Dec. 18 at Shinjuku Face in Tokyo. “The Rookie Tournament 2011 Final” will feature last year’s 115-pound standout, Masayoshi Kato, taking on the division’s 2006 winner, Shinya Murofushi, as well as rookie tournament finals in the 115-, 123-, 132-, 143-, 154-, 168- and 183-pound divisions.
Before 2011 draws to a close, Shooto will stage its first professional event in Aomori prefecture with “Spirit Aomori.” A 143-pound matchup between “Jackknife” Tsuneo Kimura and Yo Saito has been confirmed for the Nov. 27 card at Aomori Prefectural Budokan in Hirosaki, along with a 132-pound bout pitting Kota Onojima against Takuya Ogura.