TOKYO -- Shooto 132-pound world champion Masakatsu Ueda defended his title against Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas in a riveting three-round main event Sunday at Korakuen Hall.
Dantas took it to the champ midway though the first period, rocking Ueda with big hook combinations. Dazed, the wrestling stalwart shot for takedowns on instinct, whereupon Dantas grabbed at the ropes to keep upright -- so much so that referee Toshiharu Suzuki deducted a point from him. Dantas held on despite Ueda's best efforts to take him down, however, arguably winning the round to earn an even 9-9 due to the penalty.
The pace became frenetic in the second frame, with Ueda hitting takedowns despite continued rope grabbing from Dantas. Though the young Brazilian bucked and heaved, Ueda worked various grips on Dantas' upper body to control him and keep him down, switching from Nelsons to Brabo grips and back again before hitting a harai-goshi to take top in side mount. Dantas reversed into Ueda's guard to finish out the last 30 seconds on top, but the round soundly belonged to Ueda, 10-9.
In the final round, things looked a little more even as Dantas was able to keep the fight standing. While the Brazilian was game to go tit-for-tat with the champ, Ueda landed hard low kicks followed by single punches that a tiring Dantas was hard-pressed to defend. Ueda also took Dantas' back in the clinch, kneeing him to the body and face, before Dantas stole a single-leg to take Ueda's back in the final 10 seconds.
Thanks to the penalty Dantas earned in the first, referee Suzuki and judge Tadashi Yokoyama scored the bout 29-28 for Ueda. Judge Hiroyuki Kanno scored it 30-28 for Ueda to give him the unanimous decision.
Things weren't all good for team Japan, however. Shooto South America 123-pound champ Jussier “Formiga” da Silva upset Shooto 123-pound world champion Shinichi "BJ" Kojima in a non-title fight.
All three rounds started more or less the same with Kojima pursuing a conservative standup game, snapping off low kicks and grazing high kicks. When da Silva worked up enough courage to press in close for dirty boxing, knees and takedown attempts, he succeeded in stealing the first and third rounds, getting BJ down on the canvas. In the third, da Silva took Kojima's back and threatened with chokes and punches. The performance earned him a unanimous decision with two 30-27 scores on referee Taro Wakabayashi and judge Yokoyama's cards, while judge Suzuki scored the bout 30-28 for da Silva.
After dropping a dismal first round, Atsushi Takeuchi looked well on his way to being crushed by Takeshi Sato in the evening's sole 115-pound bout. Sato controlled Takeuchi in the first round, pummeling him with punches and an arm-triangle attempt from top, but Takeuchi rallied in the second and third, throwing big combinations on the feet. Takeuchi had Sato rocked by the end of the second round with two big left hooks. The dizzying blows sapped Sato to the point that Takeuchi was able to steal the third round in similar fashion, winning a 29-28 unanimous decision.
Masaaki Sugawara got an early stoppage over Yasuhiro Akagi courtesy of referee Wakabayashi. Akagi had been eating a fair amount of punishment as he pressed forward, looking to land big right hooks followed by takedown attempts. Sugawara stayed calm, stood up whenever taken down and continued to punish the forward-pressing Akagi with combinations, sweeping his leg twice and landing big knees to the face. After one particularly vicious knee made Akagi sit on his haunches, referee Wakabayashi jumped in to stop the bout at 3:50 of the first period.
Yukinari Tamura took a solid majority decision over Shinji Sasaki, despite initially looking like the lesser man on the feet. Tamura stole the first round from his back, where he repeatedly hammerfisted an inert Sasaki's face for approximately two minutes. Tamura then stole the second round with slick southpaw counterpunching to fluster Sasaki en route to earning 20-18 nods on all scorecards.
Kazuhiro Ito almost had a repeat of the face-plant KO loss that made him into a viral video sensation in February 2008, but he managed to foil Taiki Tsuchiya's slam attempt to survive. For all the good it did, however, Ito was smashed from bell to bell on the feet and on the canvas by Tsuchiya, who looked like a man possessed. Judges Watanabe and Suzuki both scored the fight 20-17 while referee Wakabayashi scored it a brutal 20-16, all for Tsuchiya.
Yoshitaka Okigi was doing well against Tsuneo Kimura in his 143-pound rookie tourney bout. He was scoring with sharp singles and counterpunches until the second round at 1:48 in, when Kimura swung with a big overhand right to put an unceremonious KO end to Okigi's night.
Munehiro Kin got off to a rocky start in his 154-pound rookie tourney fight against Hiroki Kuga. After dropping the first round on the feet, Kin stole a dominant second period, smashing Kuga on the ground with punches before earning a catch from a mounted reverse triangle-keylock combo. Kin earned 19-18 scorecards all around.
Tadahiro Harada took a majority decision over Koji Nishioka, a product of Takanori Gomi, in a 154-pound rookie tournament bout. Harada countered with big punches and knees on Nishioka, throwing up frequent submission attempts to keep the wrestler on the run. Judges Suzuki and Kanno scored the bout 20-18 for Harada while judge Yokoyama scored it 19-19.
In a 132-pound rookie tourney bout, Kota Onojima winged big punches on Kenjiro Inagaki to earn a majority decision on judges Kanno and Wakabayashi's cards, who scored the bout 20-18 Onojima. Judge Suzuki scored the bout a 19-19 draw.