Kyoji Horiguchi rallied to catch Shintaro Ishiwatari in the fifth round. | Photo: Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- Once again proving the merit of five round fights, highly coveted Shooto prospect Kyoji Horiguchi was on the losing end of his 135-pound affair with Shintaro Ishiwatari until pulling off a resounding come-from-behind TKO in the final frame of Vale Tudo Japan 2nd’s main event.
The hard-hitting featherweight King of Pancrase tagged Horiguchi early with a wild left hook, causing the unsteady Shootor to slip on the counter attack. Ishiwatari thus sunk a deep rear-naked choke, sapping the energy from the Krazy Bee product as he fought to escape.
Dropping rounds one, two, and four, Horiguchi entered the fifth frame apparently bound for a decision loss. The young Shooto prospect dramatically changed the narrative however, catching Ishiwatari cold with a hard right hand and a subsequent flurry of punches.
Although the Pancrasist was still upright, it was clear that he was swinging on autopilot. After an otherwise excessive amount of finishing punches from Horiguchi, referee Toshiharu Suzuki finally waved the fight off at the 0:41 mark.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t perform to my fullest. Really, I’m the one who lost,” an exhausted but happy Horiguchi said in following the fight. “When I go to the UFC, I promise to become stronger.”
Unaccustomed to five rounders, the haggard Horiguchi was unable to fully articulate responses to questions from the Japanese press.
“I couldn’t get inside on him because of his pressure,” said Horiguchi. “He's strong. I’m sorry, I can't talk now. I'm too tired. I just had a five-round fight.”
Horiguchi claimed to have designs on competing in the United States next, though he is currently uncertain on when or how it may happen.
Dream Japan bantamweight grand prix winner Hideo Tokoro tapped out Taylor McCorriston in their 130-pound bout, finishing the American with a nasty heel hook. While McCorriston admirably neutralized much of Tokoro’s first round offense by tying him up on the canvas, it wasn't long before Tokoro took notice of the tape around McCorriston's left leg. Tokoro thus locked up the leg and elicited the tap at 2:34 of the second frame.
In a 145-pound bout, UFC veteran Caol Uno submitted WCFC lightweight champ Anthony Avila. Avila took the fight to Uno in the first, racking up punches on the feet while the former 154-pound Shooto champ snapped kicks to Avila's body. The Japanese fighter proved most dangerous on the ground however, wrestling Avila to the canvas to take side and back mount, where he eventually locked up the rear-naked choke at 1:53 of round three.
In a measured and defensive effort, Yuta Nezu captured a unanimous decision against Akiyo Nishiura in a 135-pound bout. Peppering his opponent’s legs and body with kicks in the first two rounds, Nezu stayed just out of range of Nishiura's wild, one-hit killshots, earning 30-28, 30-27, and 29-28 scorecards from judges Serizawa, Nakai, and Toyonaga.
In prelim action, Shooto Watanabe -- son of inaugural Shooto welterweight champion Yuichi Watanabe -- secured dominant position on Shintaro Kubo for two of three rounds in their 135-pound bout, locking up unanimous 29-28 cards from judges Suzuki, Toyonaga, and Nakai.
Starting the evening out right, 17-year old AACC product Ryuto Sawada bashed a wily Jo Shishino with a steady stream of punches in their 115-pound bout, until eventually bending Shishino's right arm over his hip for the technical submission at 2:36 of round three.
Finally, in a rare spectacle for Shooto fans, Gabriel Zobo-Lebay fended off the takedown attempts of Lucas Tani in a 215-pound bout, peppering him with punches on the feet to win the unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 29-28).
Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.