After trading low kicks with each other in the opening moments, Hironaka (14-6) landed a hard one-two hook combination that had a stunned Nagata searching for the clinch. Hironaka then tripped the New Japan professional wrestler to the mat, where he dropped short elbows from above in half guard and opened a tiny cut over Nagata’s left eye. Nagata (4-6-1) eventually fought back to his feet, but after a failed single leg, he ate another big right-left hook combo from Hironaka that sent him sprawling into the fence. Hironaka lunged and got off four unanswered blows to the side of Nagata’s head, forcing referee Yoshinori Umeki to call a stop to the bout at 3:41 of the first period.
“If I get a chance to fight Cage Force’s lightweight champion, Mizuto Hirota, I’d [win and] defend the belt for 10 years and can die happy, I think,” Hironaka said. “I’d also like to go back to America again, to challenge myself. Since I was born a man, I want to challenge myself against the strongest.”
In the co-headliner, Keita Nakamura returned to welterweight to meet Tomoyoshi Iwamiya for what many saw as a tune-up. It did not go as smoothly as he hoped, however.
After a dominant first round in which he controlled Iwamiya (6-9) from back mount and threatening with chokes and punches, “K-Taro” became much more hesitant in the second and third periods. Iwamiya defended takedowns and took a number of potshots on the gunshy Nakamura, but it proved too little for two of the judges. Nakamura (16-4-2) slipped by on the scorecards of judges Minoru Toyonaga and Tomoki Matsumiya; judge Tenshin Matsumoto ruled the bout a draw.
Meanwhile, Daiju Takase edged out Shuji Morikawa by split decision in a bout that proved lackluster at best. Morikawa (2-3-1) had the power and speed to put big right hooks on a defensively challenged Takase, but after eating a few counter punches, the Team Cloud fighter grew hesitant. The opening allowed a gassing Takase (8-13-1) to rack up low kicks and sharp jabs to steal the decision.
“In the near future, I'd like to fight someone [whose success is owed to] 30 percent ability and 70 percent management,” Takase said. “Who? I think you all know. I won’t name names, but if you want to know, buy my [as yet unpublished] book.”
Other bouts ended in more decisive fashion.
Shahriar Abbasov looked to be on his way to a technical knockout or dominant decision victory, as he bullied Kozo Urita all over the cage, slamming him and locking him up in headlocks. In his retreat, however, Urita (7-11-1, 1 NC) survived long enough to land a glancing punch that opened a small cut over Abbasov’s left eye. Though doctors allowed the fight continue after their checkup, referee Toyonaga called an early stop at 1:11 in the second round when the Abbasov (0-1) bleeding could not be controlled.
In the “Fight of the Night,” Isao Terada surprised everyone by finishing Yuta Nezu quickly with a third-round rear-naked choke. Though expectations had the two heavy hitters banging away at each other, Terada showed composure from the opening period, as he controlled the cage and countered the wild-swinging Nezu (7-3-1) with precise jabs and beautiful hooks to the body. More of the same came in the second stanza, and Terada delivered two takedowns. In the third, Nezu -- now favoring his right arm -- shot for a single leg. Terada (6-7-4, 1 NC) quickly extracted himself, spun around and took the back mount, seamlessly sinking the choke. Nezu tapped quickly, ending the bout 13 seconds into round three.
Yusaku Inoue def. Yusuke Horimoto -- TKO (Cut) 3:00 R2
Masato Kobayashi def. Nobuo Kawana -- Unanimous Decision
Masayoshi Ichikawa def. Tomoyuki Miyaji -- TKO (Punches) 0:14 R1
Yuta Nakamura def. Yusuke Sakashita -- TKO (Punches) 0:17 R1
Teruhiko Kubo def. Keitaro Maeda -- TKO (Punches) 3:04 R1