Toby Imada file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Toby Imada made yet another unexpected tournament run in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The two-time Bellator Fighting Championship lightweight finalist shocked a pair of highly-regarded opponents on his way to the finals of the 2010 S-Cup, Shoot Boxing’s biennial one-night, eight-man tournament. The rules of shoot boxing allow for traditional kickboxing strikes (punches, kicks) as well as standing submission attempts and point-earning throws.
Imada was announced as a participant just four days prior to the tournament, a late replacement for fellow MMA vet Charles Bennett after the fighter formerly known as “Krazy Horse” was unable to leave the United States due to a revoked visa.
Slotted against Takaaki Umeno in the opening round, most observers viewed Imada as they had Bennett: a sacrificial lamb for Shoot Boxing’s super welterweight champion. Things did not go as expected, however, and after weathering untold leg kicks from Umeno, Imada scored a stunning upset knockout at the last possible second. The official time was 3:00 of the third and final round.
Advancing to the semifinals, Imada faced another tall task in three-time S-Cup and two-time K-1 Max champion Andy Souwer. There, Imada’s black belt in judo would come into play, as a pair of throws scored him crucial points and earned him another massive upset. Imada took a three-round split decision over the tournament favorite with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 27-28.
In the evening’s last match, Imada met two-time K-1 Max champ and fellow shoot boxing neophyte Buakaw Por. Pramuk. The muay Thai stylist won a pair of unanimous decisions over Hiroki Shishido and Henri van Opstal to advance to the finals, but needed less than two rounds to end Imada’s Cinderella story. Pramuk battered Imada with right hands and leg kicks, dropping him five times en route to a technical knockout victory at 2:29 of the second round.
Imada was not the only notable mixed martial artist to make his shoot boxing debut on the evening. In a 143-pound non-tournament match, Dream and Strikeforce veteran Mitsuhiro Ishida went up against Shoot Boxing’s top-ranked featherweight, Hiroaki Suzuki. The “Endless Fighter” did not find the success of his American counterpart, winding up on the wrong end of a second-round head kick knockout.
Another Dream vet, Daiki Hata (a.k.a. “DJ.taiki”), took out super featherweight ace Tomohiro Oikawa in a bizarre bout which saw the second round ended a full minute early. When the error was noticed and corrected, Hata floored Oikawa with a left hook, scoring a knockout at the 2:18 mark.
Deep veteran Shunsuke Inoue used his judo base to score a throw against karateka Kengo Shimizu in the early going of their match, but that was the extent of the Yoshida Dojo light heavyweight’s success. Inoue ate kicks, knees and punches for two rounds before corner Kazuhiro Nakamura threw in the towel 34 seconds into the third.
Elsewhere, the Greg Jackson- and Team Quest-trained Karina Hallinan dropped a unanimous decision (30-26, 30-24, 30-25) to Ai Takahashi.