Little over a month removed from his loss to former Shooto 132-pound champion Masakatsu Ueda, 2010 rookie MVP and rookie champion Horiguchi got back on the winning track with a resounding technical knockout shellacking of Tetsu Suzuki.
“It didn’t matter that [Suzuki] was a grappler,” said a confident Horiguchi. “I just wanted to put on a show that would erase the frustration I’d felt in losing to Ueda.”
Horiguchi did just that, brutally dispensing with Suzuki in short order. Shucking off a string of “Hadairo” takedown attempts after the opening bell, Horiguchi terrorized the sneaky grappler with punishing punches from above while working to extricate his leg. Once free and fully back on his feet, he continued to press the attack, battering Suzuki from pillar to post. Having little answer for the Krazy Bee prodigy on the feet, Suzuki lunged for Horiguchi’s legs, but it quickly proved a tactical mistake, as the rookie champion continued to blast him with punches.
“We weren’t sweaty yet, so I struggled to get free of the takedown attempts. I wasn’t taken down, though, because an opponent with good takedown ability tends to rise upward. [Suzuki] was dropping down instead, so I felt I was safe,” reflected Horiguchi.
Horiguchi’s rain of punches continued until Suzuki had little recourse but to hang on to a leg for dear life, eating punishment while waiting for referee Toshiharu Suzuki to call a stop to the bout. Suzuki showed mercy at the 2:06 mark.
“I want to fight for the Shooto world title,” said Horiguchi, of his immediate future. “No, I don’t want to leave Shooto just yet. I just [want] the title first. I think it’ll be a striker’s fight [if I fight Shooto 132-pound world champion Koetsu Okazaki].”
Just prior the explosive main event, Junji Ito and Yuki Shojo added further evidence to the notion that lower weight fighters produce exciting fights, as both men scrapped tooth and nail for three rounds.
Ito opened strong, outclassing Shojo on the feet, marking him up with low kicks and punches while retreating and sidestepping just out of his opponent’s range. Frustrated, Shojo charged headlong into fire while trying to land shots of his own, but he was met with sharp, blistering Ito combinations. His perseverance paid off in the final frame when Ito slowed, allowing Shojo to land some punches before putting “Sarumaru” on his back where he hammered away until final bell. However, despite the rousing comeback in the final period, the best Shojo could get was from judge Tomohiro Tanaka, who saw the fight a draw at 29-29. Judges Tadashi Yokoyama and Suzuki saw it 29-28 for Ito.
Legend Fighting Championship veteran Nam Jin Jo decisioned former Shooto 123-pound champion Shinichi Kojima.
Although it looked like a promising 124.7-pounds of pure violence -- since Jo entered the fight 1.3 pounds over the official weight limit -- his furious barrage of punches and kicks on the feet and off his back disappeared in the latter two rounds as he mashed on the former Shooto champion with knees in the clinch and short punches from guard. It was all a frustrated Kojima could do to either defend against the Korean’s offense in the clinch and guard or stop his takedown attempts, as, outside of a few knees to the face and a decent first-round guillotine choke attempt, the former Shooto titleholder could not find any purchase to assert himself in the fight. Judges Tanaka and Suzuki saw the bout 30-28 and 29-28, respectively, for Jo, while Yokoyama was less certain with his 29-29 ruling.
Much like Jo, former Cage Force featherweight champion Yuji Hoshino grinded out a victory over a former Shooto champion in Akitoshi Tamura, taking a hard-fought decision over the WEC veteran.
With Tamura opting to tie up in the clinch for knees or rack up low kicks from distance, Hoshino instead chose to work his oppressive top game, mashing Tamura from guard with short punches in the first and final frames. The first and last Cage Force featherweight champion took home 30-28 cards courtesy of judges Tanaka and Yokoyama, while judge Suzuki awarded him a 30-27 scorecard.
Protecting Shooto’s honor from the invading 135-pound King of Pancrase, Haruo Ochi took a narrow decision over Kiyotaka Shimizu by hunting him down with big punches for three rounds.
In true Shimizu fashion, Pancrase ace stuck to the outside to sting with jabs and low kicks, ducking down for takedown attempts when Ochi lunged with haymakers. Ochi pancaked most of Shimizu’s takedown attempts, however, and, as the rounds wore on, began connecting with big punches to the face and body. As evasive as Shimizu proved, Ochi connected just enough for judges Tanaka and Kanno to give the fight to him 30-29 and 29-28, respectively, while judge Suzuki was less certain, ruling the fight a 29-29 draw.
Elsewhere, 2009 rookie MVP and 143-pound rookie champion Yusuke Yachi welcomed Sengoku veteran Shigeki Osawa to Shooto competition by battering the standout wrestler for three rounds.
While Osawa was able to leverage his wrestling to park himself in Yachi’s guard for the first frame, the second and third rounds saw the Krazy Bee product’s resurgence on the feet. Connecting with hard left straights and walloping right hooks on his fellow southpaw, Yachi racked up the damage while Osawa missed with wild haymakers and faked takedown attempts. Yachi dropped Osawa in the third with the aforementioned combination but could not finish, as Osawa dove desperately for a takedown just before the bell. Still, the beating was harsh and consistent enough for judges Yokoyama, Tanaka and Suzuki to unanimously vote Yachi the winner with 29-28 scores.
At 154-pounds, Shinji Sasaki and Daisuke Hoshino fought to a contentious majority draw.
Sasaki’s game plan essentially amounted to patiently moving Hoshino to the canvas to work his way toward passing to a dominant position. Hoshino remained active, however, punching from the bottom and arguably doing more damage than his more conservative opponent. Eating the punches while fighting for dominant position apparently wore down Sasaki, as he desperately hunted for a choke in the final moments of the bout, to little avail. As such, judges Yokoyama and Suzuki ruled the bout a 29-29 draw, while judge Kanno saw it 29-28 for Sasaki.
Meanwhile, 132-pound rookie champion and 2011 rookie MVP Michinori Tanaka notched a dominant win over Jong Hoon Choi, shellacking the Korean fighter for all of three-and-a-half minutes before putting him out of his misery with a submission.
Starting with a hard right hand on the feet, Tanaka continued to batter Choi on the ground as he looked in vain for reversals and submission openings. After softening him up with ground-and-pound, Tanaka put Choi in the Kadowaki special -- a rear-naked choke from the crucifix -- earning the tap at the 3:29 mark.
Starting off the show, 2011 rookie champion at 123-pounds Yuya Shibata received a rough introduction into Shooto A-class competition, courtesy of Ryuichi Miki. Shibata put up a fair fight in securing top position in half guard and a moment in the full mount, but Miki’s sharper punches on the feet and ground throughout the bout saw him prevail with 30-27 scores on the cards of judges Yokoyama, Kanno and Suzuki.