TOKYO -- Former Pride Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder Takanori Gomi battled through five rounds of ferocious striking against Tony Hervey and won a unanimous decision in the Vale Tudo Japan 2009 main event on Friday at JCB Hall.
Round one saw Gomi push the fight to the mat, where he took Hervey’s back and fought to keep control. However, he surrendered to Hervey’s brute strength. The King of the Cage champion created distance with flashy but powerful kicks, as Gomi held dominance on the mat. The second and third rounds saw more of the same. Hervey tried to punish Gomi from a distance, while the Japanese standout attacked the American’s mid-section with slick punching combinations. Near the end of the third, Hervey almost relinquished his place in the bout, as he struggled to fight off an armbar.
By round four, both men were clearly exhausted, but Hervey faired better in the exchanges and was the slightly more active of the two. For a time, it appeared as though he might finish Gomi with knees and stomps, but “The Fireball Kid” proved resilient. In the waning moments, the lightweights pressed each other to commit and picked their shots, with Gomi eating a fewer than he landed.
Once the world’s top-ranked lightweight, Gomi has won back-to-back fights since his submission loss to former Sengoku champion Satoru Kitaoka in January.
In the co-main event, “Lion” Takeshi Inoue stopped former Shooto champion Alexandre Franca Nogueira on fourth-round strikes.
The early stages of the non-title affair saw the one-time 143-pound champion control the match with superior ground skills, but he failed to finish. In round two, Inoue defended a takedown and peppered his Brazilian foe with punches until Nogueira reversed the position, punished Inoue with knees in side control and barely missed a brutal stomp.
Round four was a major turning point for the 29-year-old Inoue, after Nogueira took an upkick to the face and allowed him to stand. A stiff jab brought Nogueira to the mat, where Inoue jumped in for the finish and ended the fight with punches 2:58 into the period.
Meanwhile, Willamy Freire captured the Shooto 154-pound crown with a first-round technical knockout against Kenichiro Togashi.
Freire went for the kill with pawing jabs and a series of hooks that stunned Togashi. The Japanese fighter scored a quick knockdown, but Willamy was quick to answer, as he launched an onslaught of blows that broke Togashi’s nose. Togashi tried to continue but could not, and the bout was halted 2:05 into round one.
Rumina Sato ended his match even more decisively.
In what felt like Sato’s retirement fight, Team Quest’s Cory Grant pressured the Japanese veteran with multiple throws and glancing head kicks. Sato avoided damage and, after a brief exchange, exploded with a devastating Superman punch that dropped his American counterpart. Sato followed with a quick knee to the head and dropped heavy punches for good measure, forcing the referee to intervene 3:20 into the match.
Elsewhere, two-time Shooto champion, Mamoru Yamaguchi made quick work of Guam import Jesse Taitano, as he stuffed his shot, scored with a knockdown and finished him with punches 4:41 into the first round. Finally, Urijah Faber stablemate Tito Jones picked apart Tenkei Oda with superior striking, nabbing the unanimous decision.
Jung Min Kang def. Yoichiro Sato -- KO (Punches) 2:48 R1
Kosuke Eda draws Masato Sannai -- Majority Draw