MMA on DVD: Shooto: Best of 2003 Volume 1

Shooto: Best Of 2003: Volume 1

-Wow, been a hell of a long time since I reviewed any Shooto. Better recap the rules before we begin. Rules are pretty easy to follow, basically a hybrid of sorts of UFC and Pride. Fights take place in a ring; there are no elbows on the ground, or kicks or knees to the head of a downed opponent. A standing 8 count rule is used for knockdowns in a similar way to boxing, with three knockdowns meaning a TKO, and Shooto also makes use of a “catch” rule, meaning that (as far as I’m aware) a full submission hold is treated in the same way as a knockdown would be in terms of judging points even if it doesn’t finish the fight outright. The weight classes are named differently to the US style, too, ranging from Bantamweight (123lbs), Featherweight (135lbs), Lightweight (145lbs), Welterweight (155lbs), Middleweight (170lbs), Light Heavyweight (185lbs) and Heavyweight (above 185lbs). Another pointer to make is that the professional fights are split into A-Class and B-Class, with the A-Class fights taking three five-minute rounds, while the B-Class only have two rounds.

-Ought to point out too that as this is a compilation DVD, most of the fights are clipped in places. It’s real high-level clipping though and even if you’re looking for it you won’t be able to spot the clips. I personally don’t think it takes much away from the fights as from what I can gather they’re only cutting slow spots, but that’s why the play-by-play might seem a little short given that all rounds are five minutes.

Shooto: 01/24 In Korakuen Hall

Tokyo, Japan

Women’s Fight: Erica Montoya vs Naoko Torashima

Beginning then with a Women’s fight, then. I haven’t seen much in the way of female MMA so you’ll have to bear with my ignorance I’m afraid, although I believe the rules in Shooto are the same as the male fights, anyway. Fun fact: Montoya was actually included on the roster of the last UFC video game, despite UFC never featuring female MMA and the game not featuring any other female characters for her to fight.

Round 1 begins, and Montoya catches a kick and gets a swift takedown to side mount. She works for the full mount and then gets it, looking right away to set up an armbar. Torashima escapes the hold, but ends up being kept down in the mount, and from there Erica shifts up the body and hooks on a triangle from the top position. Torashima gives her back and tries to escape out the back door, kneeing the body in the process, but Montoya keeps the triangle firmly locked on, and the round ends with Torashima still stuck in there.

Second round, and Torashima comes out looking to strike, but Erica gets a clinch, and they exchange some knees and heel strikes in the corner. Ref breaks them up and Torashima lands a nice right jab, but Montoya gets a takedown and passes right into side mount. She takes full mount, but Torashima reverses over into Montoya’s guard. Montoya quickly hooks up an armbar though, and Torashima attempts to step over to escape, but ends up completely trapped in the hold and taps out there.

No complaints from me there – Montoya looked like an extremely skilled grappler and that was a fun little fight in general.

Welterweight Fight: Chris Brennan vs Takaharu Maruhama

Never heard of Maruhama, but Brennan’s a veteran who seems to pop up everywhere.

They begin, and Maruhama tries to pull guard from the off, but ends up on the wrong end of a full mount instead. Still, he turns it around quickly, rolling into Brennan’s guard, where Brennan immediately gets his legs up to look for a triangle choke. Maruhama avoids and passes the leg into half-guard, but Brennan reclaims full guard quickly. Maruhama stands and spins over, and then drops back, grabbing an Achilles lock, and Brennan taps out there.

Swift finish and I was somewhat surprised to see a guy like Brennan get tapped so quickly.

Lightweight Fight: Joao Roque vs Naoya Uematsu

Roque is the Nova Uniao grappler who I seem to be coming across more and more often in the reviews recently. From what I’ve seen he’s pretty good, though. I believe Uematsu is a highly regarded fighter himself, so this might be good.

Round 1, and Roque shoots in to open, before spinning off to a rear waistlock where he looks to trip Uematsu down. Uematsu uses a kimura attempt to get into top position though, until Roque reverses and works free into Uematsu’s guard. He passes into half-guard and then looks to get the full mount, and sure enough he does, landing some good punches from the position until Uematsu bucks his hips and gets guard back. Roque stands up out of the guard, and Uematsu grabs for a leglock attempt, but eats some punches instead as the round ends.

2nd round, and Roque blocks a shoulder throw attempt and gets his own takedown, where he passes nicely out to the side, getting a head and leg cradle in the process. Uematsu gets half-guard, and Roque mounts but only for a split second before Uematsu gets half-guard back again. Roque continues to work from the top and takes the mount once more, where he controls him better this time, landing a few punches. Roque pulls Uematsu’s right arm across his face, and lands some punches, before looking to use it to set up an arm triangle choke. Uematsu manages to scramble to half-guard though, and survives the round.

Third and final round then, and Roque shoots in to begin, but Uematsu sprawls back….and slides all the way out of the ring, almost posting himself in the process. Man, that would’ve hurt bad. Ref restarts them and Roque shoots again, but Uematsu sprawls once more and this time they end up in the clinch. Roque delivers an accidental knee to the groin and the ref breaks them up, and from the restart Uematsu avoids the takedown again. Roque ends up on his back, firing some upkicks, before he gets a beautiful ankle pick, surprising Uematsu and taking him down to half-guard. Uematsu gets full guard, and does well from the position this time, attempting a leglock, but Roque scrambles free and manages to keep top position until the round ends.

To the judges, and it’s a unanimous decision for Roque. Definitely the right one as he dominated about 90% of the positioning. That was a decent fight actually, with some really high-level grappling in there even if there was the odd slow point.

Shooto: 02/06 In Kitazawa Town Hall

Tokyo, Japan

Lightweight Fight: Jin Kazeta vs Yohei Nanbu

You’ll really have to excuse my ignorance on some of the lesser-known Japanese fighters – for instance I’ve never heard of either of these two guys before even by name.

Kazeta opens the first round by throwing some front kicks, but takes a hard one-two that slows him down a little. Both men look to strike, with Kazeta throwing more kicks, and then he blocks a takedown and they clinch up. Back out, and Kazeta lands a good body kick and follows with a couple of knees to the midsection too. Nanbu shoots, but Kazeta blocks and ends up on top, where he stands up and drops some good punches to the body and the head. They both come back up, and exchange from close quarters, with Kazeta blocking another takedown. Back out, and they continue to exchange, until Nanbu dives for a takedown and runs right into a BIG KNEE TO THE HEAD that causes him to faceplant, and Kazeta follows with some punches until the ref steps in.

Really nicely timed knee for the finish, almost like one of Joachim Hansen’s deadly knees in Pride, or Franca’s in the 2nd round against Sherk. Just perfect timing.

Welterweight Fight: Mitsuhiro Ishida vs Koutetsu Boku

Ah, now I have heard of these two guys. Ishida of course went on to much larger fame just last year, as he came into Pride’s Bushido shows and beat Marcus Aurelio, who was coming off his big win over Takanori Gomi and was for all intents and purposes the linear Pride champion at Lightweight. Ishida would go on to another two wins in Pride before falling victim to Gomi on the NYE show. Boku meanwhile is one of the Killer Bees camp along with Kid Yamamoto, et al, and fought in K1 Hero’s recently, beating Hermes Franca and Alexandre Franca Nogueira, amongst others. This is actually a B Class fight though, meaning two rounds.

Ishida opens the first round with some good low kicks, before shooting for the takedown. Boku blocks and then decides to go for a guillotine and pulls guard, but Ishida quickly works his head free. He postures up to drop some punches, but Boku scrambles up to his feet. Boku lands a couple of shots standing, but Ishida soon trips him back down and from inside the guard, he stays incredibly active, posturing up for the rest of the round to deliver some damaging ground-and-pound to Boku who seems unable to get out from the bottom.

Round 2 begins and Boku looks to stand and strike, avoiding the first takedown, but he doesn’t land anything and Ishida eventually gets a nice, driving takedown back into the guard. More of the same follows as Ishida sits up inside the guard and keeps on punching away, keeping a really active pace even if he’s not doing all that much damage. Fight continues that way until the round ends.

Easy one to score, this, and it’s a decision for Ishida. Boku was never really in the fight, just being taken down and basically beaten up by Ishida, who despite never really doing tons of damage, stayed active enough from the top that the fight never got boring or anything. Basically the stereotypical Ishida fight if you’ve ever seen the guy in action before.

Shooto: 02/23 In Korakuen Hall

Tokyo, Japan

Women’s Fight: Audrey Kruyning vs Ikuma Hoshino

Another women’s fight, then, with Kruyning hailing I believe from the Netherlands.

Round 1 begins, and Hoshino presses forward and lands some strikes, before getting a takedown to guard. Audrey kicks her away and stands, and they go into the clinch where Kruyning gets a takedown to guard. She stands up to avoid an armbar and takes a few upkicks in the process, before Hoshino comes back to her feet and tries a takedown. Audrey sprawls to avoid and lands some punches to the body, before taking top position with Hoshino in guard. Kruyning looks to mount, but Hoshino makes really good use of a butterfly guard to prevent, and the round ends there.

Hoshino opens the 2nd by landing a combo, but Kruyning quickly clinches and gets the takedown. She lands some punches, but takes some upkicks when she stands, and they come back up into the clinch. Kruyning throws her back down, but Hoshino continues to make excellent use of the butterfly guard, blocking any attempts at improving position and almost sweeping Kruyning at one point. Audrey stands, but continues to be unable to pass the guard as Hoshino’s great use of the butterfly guard and wrist control remains impressive. Round ends shortly after.

Judges score it a draw and I won’t argue with that, as neither woman really took the advantage at any given point. Hoshino’s butterfly guard was REALLY good though, one of the best uses of that position I can recall seeing in MMA, and that alone made for an interesting fight.

Welterweight Fight: Kohei Yasumi vs Takeshi Yamazaki

Yasumi trains out of Paraestra Tokyo, with Shinya Aoki, while Yamazaki is one of the Team Grabaka (Kazuo Misaki, Akihiro Gono) guys.

Yasumi opens things with a hard leg kick, but Yamazaki answers with a combination into the clinch, and they muscle for position. They break and both men press forward with strikes, but a big left-right combo from Yasumi stuns Yamazaki and he flails forward desperately. Another punch catches him and sends him down, and as the referee goes to administer the 8 count Yamazaki grabs Yasumi’s leg for a takedown. Ref yells at him but he ignores the warnings, and ends up being counted out, ref stops the fight on a TKO.

Ha, pretty weird ending there. Not sure whether Yamazaki misunderstood the rules or whether he was so rocked he didn’t realize the ref was stepping in or what. Nice knockdown though.

Featherweight Fight: Kentaro Imaizumi vs Shuichiro Katsumura

Don’t know anything about either man here I’m afraid, but for guys who weigh 135lbs they’re pretty damn muscular. Bit weird to be seeing such light guys fighting even if WEC’s bringing that division to the forefront these days.

They circle to begin, before Katsumura tries a flying knee, but Imaizumi catches it and meets him with some punches. Katsumura lands a couple of good combos though, and then avoids a clinch, only to take a glancing left high kick from Imaizumi. Another clinch gets broken quickly, and then Imaizumi avoids a single leg, before stunning Katsumura with a combination and follows with a trip takedown. Imaizumi works from the guard with punches to end the round.

Round 2 begins with an exchange from distance, before Imaizumi blocks a takedown and ends up on top in guard. He works a bit of ground-and-pound but mainly looks to pass the guard, and quickly the round comes to an end. Guess that one was seriously clipped there, must’ve been really inactive or something.

Third and final round then, and Imaizumi opens with a good trip takedown to half-guard. Katsumura gets full guard, but Imaizumi avoids his leglock attempt and lands some good punches from the top. He traps one of Katsumura’s arm and really begins to work him over, before passing to full mount. Katsumura tries to roll free, but remains mounted, until he manages to use his legs to get half-guard before going for an ankle lock. Imaizumi avoids and drops some punches back into the guard, but Katsumura works to his feet, avoids the Parisyan dropping kimura variation, and ends up in full guard to end.

Judges give the unanimous decision to Imaizumi; the fight was pretty close but I wouldn’t disagree with that as he definitely had the more meaningful offense. A bit slow in places and if the 2nd round hadn’t been clipped I’m thinking it would’ve been dire, but again there were some really good grappling exchanges in there.

Featherweight Fight: Ryota Matsune vs Kimihito Nonaka

Matsune I believe was the Shooto 135lbs champion at this point, though whether this is a title defence or not I’m totally unsure. It’s times like this that I wish I could read or at least understand Japanese. NEVER thought I’d say that. Anyway Matsune is a guy who from what I’ve read, has a bit of a reputation online for being a boring fighter, but then so does Josh Koscheck and I’ve always enjoyed him outside of a few moments, so hey. Matsune is also another really heavily muscled guy for 135lbs.

They begin really tentatively, neither guy looking to make the first move, before Matsune secures a takedown to guard. Nonaka ties him up from the bottom, but Matsune manages to work to half-guard albeit without landing any strikes. Nonaka’s defensive work means he can’t seem to open up, so he stands instead, and tries a leaping punch, but Nonaka avoids it and comes back to his feet, and Matsune lands a knee to end the round.

Nonaka comes out into the 2nd throwing some kicks, but Matsune gets the clinch and they muscle across the ring, both looking for the takedown while exchanging knees. Matsune finally gets a sweet takedown to guard, and works from the top with some punches, but ends up taking an illegal upkick and the ref steps in and calls time. He recovers and they restart, but just as the ref calls it, the bell sounds to end the round.

They clinch up to begin the third round, and both men look for the takedown as they throw and muscle each other all over the ring. Finally Nonaka manages to block an attempt and catches Matsune off balance, taking him down and getting on top in half-guard. Nonaka blocks a sweet attempt, but is unable to pass the guard, and so he stays there landing the odd punch as the fight comes to an end.

Close one to call, that was. Two judges have it for Matsune while one has it a draw though, giving him the majority decision. Yeah, the fight was a bit dull; probably the slowest on this DVD thus far, but I’ve seen far worse so who am I to complain?

Welterweight Fight: Takanori Gomi vs Nick Ertl

Ertl is another guy who I can’t seem to stop stumbling across on these DVD reviews recently. Gomi looks a LOT different to his Pride tenure here, a little leaner, but mainly it’s his shorter, blonde haircut that makes him look like ten years younger rather than two or three. Gomi was the reigning Shooto champion at this point, but again I’m unsure whether this was a title defense or not.

They circle to open, and Ertl misses an attempted spin kick. Ertl comes forward again and lands a couple of low kicks, but slips on another spinning kick attempt and Gomi lands a glancing high kick of his own. They circle and exchange into a clinch, where Gomi gets a throw to guard. He works to pass, and manages to get into side mount, where he lands some punches. Ertl blocks an attempt at full mount and scrambles back to guard, but Gomi continues to work with punches whilst looking for the pass again. He works his way into full mount this time, where he opens up with punches, and as the time winds down on the clock, Gomi slaps on a straight armbar from the mount, and Ertl taps out right on the bell.

Bit of an unlucky break for Ertl, but he was being completely dominated anyway so I doubt the result could’ve changed. Solid if unspectacular showing for Gomi here.

Shooto: 03/18 In Korakuen Hall

Tokyo, Japan

Bantamweight Fight: Mamoru Yamaguchi vs Homare Kuboyama

From 135lbs fighters to 123lbs. These guys are seriously light. As you can imagine, the division is totally dominated by Japanese fighters. Pretty sure Mamoru was the Shooto champ at this point too. Either way, he’s got a pretty tight afro going on here, cool stuff.

Both men press forward with strikes to open, but neither lands anything major early on. Mamoru slips on a kick, but still nothing really lands and the fight is pretty slow. Kuboyama gets a takedown though, but Mamoru keeps a good butterfly guard in and shows some good defense, only taking a couple of shots as the round ends.

2nd round opens, and Mamoru draws first blood, decking Kuboyama with a right hand! Ref administers the standing 8 count and judges that he’s okay to go on, and Kuboyama avoids a takedown and we get more of the same, with both men looking to strike, but neither landing anything of note for the remainder of the round.

Third and final round, and we open with more of the same until Kuboyama shoots for a takedown. Mamoru sprawls and goes under the ropes, and the ref restarts them. More of the same follows, with Mamoru avoiding another attempted takedown well. This time he gets a crucifix position variant from the back, and lands punches until the round and fight ends.

Unanimous decision for Mamoru, but boy was that one a largely inactive fight outside of the knockdown.

Lightweight Fight: Tetsuo Katsuta vs Hideki Kadowaki

Katsuta’s main claim to fame is that he once beat Shooto legend Alexandre Franca Nogueira (before losing a rematch to him later on) while I think Kadowaki trains with the same team as Yushin Okami and Caol Uno.

Round 1 begins, and they press tentatively, before Kadowaki lands a knee coming forward. They continue until Kadowaki gets a takedown to guard, and then flips him over in an attempt to take the back, but Katsuta escapes to his feet. They press into the clinch again, and Katsuta gets a trip to guard, only for them to come right back up, where they muscle for position before breaking off.

Into the 2nd round, and they go back into the clinch, where Katsuta gets a takedown to guard and drops a good left hand from the top. More good punches land, but Kadowaki blocks a guard pass attempt. He takes more punches though, as Katsuta stays active from the top, and finally Kadowaki tries a leglock and ends up giving his back, only to reverse into top position to end the round.

Third and final round, and Kadowaki opens up well, wobbling Katsuta with some punches, but Katsuta manages to stay in there. They exchange punches and both men land, with an especially good left hand from Katsuta catching him. Katsuta starts to take over from there, landing the better shots, and at one point the ref calls time to check Kadowaki’s nose for some reason, despite there seemingly being no blood. Huh. They restart and exchange, before Katsuta gets a takedown, and stands over him, landing some punches. Kadowaki gets a reversal, but it’s right on the end of the round.

Decision goes to Katsuta, I’m thinking for the third round mainly as the first two were pretty much dead even. Katsuta took over the third though with his better striking. Solid enough fight I guess.

Welterweight Fight: Joachim Hansen vs Rumina Sato

Ah, now this should be fun. Sato, for those who might not have heard of him, is a real MMA legend, one of the most famous guys in the early days of Shooto and mainly remembered for his wild submission abilities, as he’s one of the few people to get submissions with crazy stuff like flying armbars. I think everyone who’s watched Pride Bushido has heard of ‘Hellboy’ Hansen, and to say this is an intriguing fight would be an understatement.

Round 1 gets underway, and Sato comes forward into the clinch, where Hansen surprisingly jumps to guard. Sato uses a mini-slam to avoid a potential submission, and drops a nice one-two from the top. He falls back for a leglock attempt, but Hansen quickly spins through to avoid it….and then sits up and lands some VICIOUS punches to the head. Sato keeps a tight grip of the leg and continues to try the submission, but it’s a big mistake as Hansen begins to pound on him badly, landing punch after punch after punch. Finally Sato lets go, but Hansen doesn’t let up at all, taking over with another brutal flurry of punches before the ref steps in to end things.

Wow. Seriously dominating performance from Hansen there. Ending was reminiscent of Frank Mir vs. Ian Freeman, with Sato just not willing to give up the leglock attempt despite taking a hell of a beating. Hansen was just totally merciless with his attack, and the result was quite the brutal fight in the end.

Shooto: GIG Central 3

Nagoya, Japan

Welterweight Fight: Daisuke ‘Amazon’ Sugie vs Takayuki Ohkouchi

This is another B-Class fight with two rounds. Sugie is the guy who got caught with the crazy kneebar by Josh Thomson a couple of years back in Pride, while I’ve never heard of Ohkouchi before.

Round 1 gets underway, and Sugie comes forward, catching a kick to get a takedown to guard. He uses punches to pass into half-guard, and then takes side mount. Full mount follows, but Ohkouchi scrambles back into guard. He takes some more punches, not offering much in the way of defense, before Sugie allows him to get back to his feet. As Ohkouchi gets up Sugie spins onto his back, getting both hooks in, but he can’t finish the rear naked choke as he pulls him down and Ohkouchi turns over and gets half-guard. Sugie lands some more punches as Ohkouchi answers with some weak hammer fists from the bottom, blocking Sugie’s attempts at a guard pass to end the round.

2nd round, and they exchange briefly before Sugie gets a takedown to guard. He works into half-guard, but Ohkouchi sweeps him from the bottom and stands. Sugie tries to trip him back down, but ends up on his back in half-guard. Sugie gets a quick reversal into top position, but Ohkouchi gets full guard and then looks to set up an oma plata. He turns it into a triangle, and uses that to sweep into top position, trying to close the triangle off that way before transitioning and attempting a footlock to end the round.

Judges score it unanimously for Sugie; I actually had it as a draw but ah well. Pretty good grappling-oriented fight.

Shooto: 05/04 In Korakuen Hall

Tokyo, Japan

Featherweight Fight: Marcos Galvao vs Masato Shiozawa

First three fights from this show are Nova Uniao vs. Japanese, so this should be pretty good. Both of these guys are mad thin, too. Shiozawa was actually on the last Shooto DVD I reviewed too (the 12/29/2002 show) knocking out his opponent in the first round.

Shiozawa opens by looking to punch, but Galvao avoids his combos and gets a takedown to guard. Shiozawa quickly reverses up into the clinch, but Galvao gets him back down. He stands and takes a couple of upkicks, and this allows Shiozawa to his feet, but he takes a one-two and Galvao quickly gets him back down again. He doesn’t land much in the way of strikes, preferring to attempt to advance his position, passing to half-guard as the round ends.

Galvao opens the 2nd round with a really low single leg shot into guard, and Shiozawa tries to kick him off, but fails and we get more of the same from the first round, with few strikes as Galvao attempts to pass guard. Shiozawa does manage to get up at one point, but Galvao gets him back down quickly. This time Shiozawa manages a reversal, though, and tries to take Galvao’s back, and we get a really weird position as Shiozawa somehow traps both of Galvao’s arms, but doesn’t really do much damage and the round ends there.

Third and final round, and Shiozawa lands a good knee as Galvao shoots in, but the Brazilian keeps coming and gets the takedown anyway, but they land in the ropes so the ref restarts them. Shiozawa lands a body kick off the restart, but gets taken down again. He uses a front facelock to work his way back up though, and then Galvao misses a takedown attempt and ends up pulling guard. Shiozawa lands some punches to the body and head from top position, before Galvao gives his back, and they roll, with Shiozawa ending up on top in half-guard. He passes to side mount, but Galvao gets half-guard back, only for Shiozawa to pass again to end.

Two judges have it for Galvao, the other has it a draw, so Galvao takes the majority decision. Bit of a dull fight really as they cancelled each other out for the most part; Galvao’s takedowns seemed to be the difference in terms of scoring.

Bantamweight Fight: Robson Moura vs Yasuhiro Urushitani

Yeah, these guys are REALLY tiny. Not sure how you pronounce Urushitani’s name, but if it’s how I think it is, then that’s very unfortunate.

They press forward, and Urushitani strikes up a Genki Sudo-like strange stance, coming at Moura almost side on. Moura shoots in for a takedown though and gets it, working quickly to half-guard. He passes to the side, and then takes full mount. Urushitani tries to buck him off, but takes some punches, and then Moura shifts up and goes for a triangle from the top, but Urushitani slips free and escapes to his feet. He kicks Moura’s legs, and then goes down into the Brazilian’s guard, but Moura immediately locks up an armbar. Urushitani manages to slip free, and round ends with Moura in top position.

They press to open the 2nd, and Urushitani begins to land some sharp leg kicks whilst avoiding Moura’s first takedown attempt. Moura shoots again, but Urushitani blocks and goes into the clinch, before muscling him off. Moura keeps on shooting in, but Urushitani shows some excellent takedown defence and eventually Moura resorts to dropping to his back. Urushitani won’t enter the guard though, and kicks at the legs to close out the round.

Third and final round, and Urushitani opens with some great leg kicks, avoiding Moura’s wild punches and more importantly, his takedown attempts. Moura looks really tired at this point and the leg kicks begin to take their toll, causing him to basically hobble. Urushitani continues to land strikes from the outside, before really stunning him with a BEAUTIFUL flying knee! Not sure how Moura stayed standing there. Moura manages to get into a clinch, where he takes some knees, but then finally manages to secure the takedown. Urushitani holds on, but Moura advances to side control, and finally full mount, as Urushitani holds on for dear life to end the fight.

Pretty good one there. First judge has it for Moura, second for Urushitani, and the third has it for Urushitani too, giving him the split decision. Moura looked like he would dominate after the first round, but he got tired and then Urushitani took over with his better strikes, especially in the third round. Very fun fight to watch.

Welterweight Fight: Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro vs Ryan Bow

Aha, finally some Shaolin. His opponent here is the US’s Ryan Bow, but he’s fought for most of his career in Japan and actually trains with the Killer Bee team. Quite strange to see him talking fluent Japanese in the pre-fight interview, although I guess when you consider how long he’s been there it’s not. Should be an interesting fight at any rate.

Round 1 begins and they exchange jabs from distance, before Shaolin shoots for the takedown. Bow blocks it well and they go into the clinch, and from there Bow lands a few bodyshots and gets a trip to Shaolin’s guard. Shaolin reverses quickly to his feet, and then shoots in again, but Bow sprawls so he ends up pulling guard. From the bottom though he gets a beautiful reversal, and ends up in top position in Bow’s half-guard. Shaolin works him over with some short punches, as Bow blocks a guard pass.

Into the 2nd, and Shaolin throws out some jabs, but Bow surprises him with a takedown. Shaolin immediately reverses though, and gets on top again in half-guard. He looks to set up his trademark arm triangle choke, but Bow works to avoid and so Shaolin continues to punch, in complete control for the rest of the round. Slow fight thus far.

Shaolin opens the third with a one-two, and they clinch up and muscle for the takedown, both men tumbling down at one stage before coming back up. Vitor ends up breaking off with a left, but Bow clinches again and they muscle until Shaolin trips him down to guard. He lands some punches before Bow kicks him away, only to be tackled right back down, and Shaolin continues to work inside Bow’s guard to end the fight.

Judges have it unanimously for Shaolin, no surprises there. Bow actually did pretty well in terms of avoiding Shaolin’s takedowns for the most part and getting on top, but as soon as they did hit the mat Shaolin was too skilled for him and just reversed into top position anyway. Bow was good enough defensively to never let Shaolin come close to a submission or anything, but didn’t put together any offense of his own. Pretty slow fight by Shaolin’s standards though; probably the slowest of his I’ve seen actually.

Featherweight Fight: Ryota Matsune vs Kentaro Imaizumi

Guessing this is a title fight after both men won their fights previously in the year as shown on this DVD.

They begin tentatively, circling, before Matsune counters a kick and DECKS HIM WITH A BIG RIGHT! Ref gives the eight count, and Imaizumi recovers, and they exchange immediately off the restart. Matsune drops him again, but this time the ref seems to miss it and they carry on trading HEAVY punches, with Imaizumi being a little wilder. Matsune eventually gets a bodylock and a trip, down to Imaizumi’s half-guard. He gets full guard and then pushes off, scrambling to his feet, and uses a nice whizzer to avoid a throw as the round comes to an end.

2nd round, and Imaizumi opens with a flurry and they trade wildly again, both men getting caught with big shots this time. Matsune gets a clinch and they muscle for position before Imaizumi gets a good throw, but Matsune reverses up and looks for his own takedown. He gets a trip, but Imaizumi uses the whizzer again and both men land on their heads! They come back up again, and this time Matsune trips him down, avoiding a kimura to end up in Imaizumi’s guard. He works the body and the head from there for the remainder of the round.

Third and final round, and Imaizumi opens with a big left kick, but Matsune eats it right up and gets to the clinch, where he works for a takedown to guard. He lands some punches from the top before Imaizumi tries a reversal, almost giving his back in the process, but then gets on top and takes full mount! Matsune immediately scrambles to half-guard, but eats some punches, and then Imaizumi takes his back. He looks to move upwards for a triangle choke variant, but Matsune escapes out the back door and gets on top, working from Imaizumi’s guard to close the fight.

I’ve got this as Matsune’s fight and the judges agree, two going with Matsune while one has it a draw. Really good fight actually, especially the wild trading on their feet in the beginning.

Superbrawl 29

Honolulu, Hawaii

No idea why they’d have a Superbrawl show on a Shooto DVD but hey.

Lightweight Fight: Norifumi ‘Kid’ Yamamoto vs Jeff Curran

Pretty weird that this is the first Kid fight I’ve ever reviewed. For those who haven’t heard of him – and I don’t think that’s many people – Kid Yamamoto’s rated as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, a near-Olympic calibre wrestler with some awesome striking to boot. Before taking a sabbatical last year he was pretty much universally recognized as the best 145lbs fighter in the world. His opponent here, Jeff Curran, is also recognized as one of the best 145lbs fighters in the world, and recently signed with WEC.

Round 1 begins and Curran catches a low kick and looks for a takedown, but Kid counters with a HUGE SHOULDER THROW that puts Curran down in guard. Curran works up into a front facelock and then breaks off, slipping momentarily on a high kick before coming back up. Kid comes forward with a left high kick though, before stunning Curran with a vicious combo. Curran shoots in and gets a takedown to guard, but Kid quickly reverses up and gets a seemingly effortless switch, putting Curran on his back. Kid moves him into the corner of the ring, standing to avoid a submission before landing a series of knees to the tailbone. He outright pushes Curran under the ropes, and the ref calls a restart. Curran lands a good knee into a clinch, but Kid muscles him down again. Curran’s guard stays active, constantly bringing his legs up, but Kid begins to posture up and land some shots from the top. Curran tries to scramble and kick away, but Kid keeps him down and lands more punches to end the round.

Curran opens the 2nd by using kicks, but Kid lands a BIG left hand to the body and follows with a right to the head that rocks him badly. Kid pulls him down, and then begins to land some really heavy shots from the top, posturing up to avoid Curran’s submission attempts. Like in the first round Curran stays really active, but Kid continues to beat on him throughout the round.

Third and final round, and Curran opens with a couple of good combos standing, but Kid catches a kick and gets a takedown. Things slow down momentarily so the ref stands them, and they clinch up before the ref calls time to check Curran’s now-bloody nose. They restart, and Kid ends the fight with two glancing left high kicks.

Yamamoto picks up the decision, and rightfully so; that was a stunningly one-sided fight considering how good a fighter Curran is. Guess Kid really is worth all the hype after all. After seeing that I’d love to see him fight Urijah Faber.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Masanori Suda vs Egan Inoue

This is for the Superbrawl Middleweight Title, I believe. Inoue was the reigning champion and local hero, while Suda was coming in as challenger.

Round 1 begins, and Inoue comes forward…but walks right into….something, happened so fast I didn’t catch it, and goes down face-first, allowing Suda to pound away for the KO!

Jesus that was fast. Couple of replays – slowed down – finally show what caused it, a clean, perfectly timed right hook to the temple. That was one of the sweetest KOs I can ever recall seeing I think. The title, of course, would go on to be won by much more well-known (in the US) fighters like Robbie Lawler, Mayhem Miller, and Frank Trigg in the future.

Shooto: Shooter’s Dream 2

Tokyo, Japan

Welterweight Fight: Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Takumi Nakayama

Ah, this should be a good fight as I’ve seen a lot of both guys and they normally bring it, especially Kawajiri who’s a tough match for anyone in the world at LW. Takumi’s not quite as highly rated, but I’ve seen him give people like Joachim Hansen tough fights before. Kawajiri, just a note, has the most hilarious trunks I’ve ever seen here, with the word “BEASTLINESS” emblazoned on the back.

They begin, and right away Kawajiri NAILS him with a straight right that puts Takumi down! Ref gives an 8 count and allows him to continue, and Kawajiri lands a few more hard shots from inside a clinch. They break and exchange back to the clinch, where Takumi lands a few knees. Kawajiri stuffs a takedown attempt though, and gets double underhooks, before breaking off with a nasty combo that stuns Takumi again. Takumi tries to fire back, but makes the mistake of trading with a far better puncher, and Kawajiri drops him with a right again. Takumi makes the 8 count and comes back up, but Kawajiri avoids a subsequent takedown attempt and gets a Thai clinch to land some knees. Kawajiri releases and lands a combo again, and then basically chases him across the ring and nails him with another right that sends him down and out this time.

Tremendous, dominating performance from Kawajiri to put away a tough opponent with ease. Totally lived up to his moniker of ‘The Crusher’. On this form you can see why he was rated #1 LW in the world at one point.

Shooto: 06/27 In Hiroshima Sun Plaza

Hiroshima, Japan

Welterweight Fight: Takashi Nakakura vs Masato Fujiwara

No clue about either of these guys, sorry. I’m pretty sure though that with a record of 5-10-5 Fujiwara did not invent the “Fujiwara armbar” that you see in pro-wrestling!

Fujiwara gets a takedown to begin, but Nakakura rolls on top and they come back to their feet. They clinch up and Fujiwara takes a knee and looks for a single leg, but they break off and he ends up dropping to his back instead. Nakakura calls him up, and lands a right hand, but Fujiwara works for the single leg and finally gets him down in guard. He looks to pass, but Nakakura quickly slaps on a textbook triangle choke from the bottom, and Fujiwara taps out there.

Quick, harmless fight. Fun fact: First time I watched it I wrote the play-by-play with the wrong names, and only found out the mistake by looking at Sherdog’s Fight Finder. Such is the way when you can’t read Japanese and don’t know the fighters!

Welterweight Fight: Kenichiro Togashi vs Koutetsu Boku

Boku we’ve seen before, while Togashi is another unknown guy to me.

They exchange punches to the clinch to begin, before Boku breaks with a right hand. They work back to the clinch and exchange some knees, before breaking again. The exchange continues and Togashi seems to be getting the better of it, before he shoots in and surprisingly pulls guard. Boku gets a bit loose and opens up with some heavy rights from the top, but Togashi catches him unaware with a swift armbar, and that’s enough for the tapout.

Pretty much your stereotypical “guy gets too open with punches and gets caught in submission” fight. And Boku must have improved a TON since 2003 to become as highly rated as he is today, judging on what I’ve seen from him here.

Middleweight Fight: Akira Kikuchi vs Seichi Ikemoto

Kikuchi is a well-known fighter out of the Killer Bee camp, and he actually held the Shooto Middleweight Title for a period of time before losing it to Shinya Aoki. Most people still rank him within the top ten or fifteen 170lbs fighters in the world in fact. Ikemoto’s a Pride veteran who lost to Yves Edwards there last year.

Kikuchi opens round 1 with a takedown to half-guard, and passes to full mount quickly. Ikemoto reverses him though, getting top position in Akira’s guard. Kikuchi reverses *that* though, going back to mount, and from there he takes the back. Ikemoto rolls back to be mounted, and then rolls again to give his back, and Kikuchi lands some heavy punches from there, so Ikemoto rolls back to mount again. Not looking good for him. Kikuchi lands some more punches and takes the back for a third time, but this time Ikemoto turns into him and escapes into Kikuchi’s guard. He stands up, and then botches some sort of leaping guard pass, and Kikuchi ends up in the north/south position to end the round.

Round 2 begins and Kikuchi shoots in for a takedown and trips him, but Ikemoto reverses and gets into half-guard. They come back up, and Kikuchi gets a rear waistlock. Ikemoto tries to roll through, but gives his back in the process, only to reverse into Kikuchi’s guard again. From the bottom though, Kikuchi gets a REALLY unorthodox armbar and locks it up, flipping him over for the tapout.

Wow, that was an insane armbar – Kikuchi basically latched onto Ikemoto’s left arm, but did it in the opposite way that you’d normally apply an armbar, and then rolled through into it and flipped Ikemoto over to fully extend it. Seriously slick stuff that you’d probably need to see to fully understand. Kikuchi looked really good there.

Lightweight Fight: Rumina Sato vs Ryan Ackerman

Whew, final fight on this volume, and it’s the legend Sato again, this time taking on the largely unheralded Ryan Ackerman.

Round 1 begins and Sato lands a low kick into the clinch, and works to get a throw, finally forcing Ackerman down. Sato works from the top and then lifts him up and moves him into the corner of the ring. He lands some punches, before dropping back, and rolling nicely into a heel hook for the tapout.

Quick and easy for Sato – much better for him than the Hansen beating!

-And on that note we get a highlight reel to end the DVD.

The Inside Pulse
: Don’t come in expecting the glitz and glamour of the UFC or Pride, but if you’re into the more technical side of MMA and especially the work of the smaller fighters, then Shooto is the promotion for you. You’d have to ask a bigger fan of Shooto whether 2003 is the best year to check out, but for me it was really enjoyable as so many of these fighters (Gomi, Kawajiri, Hansen, Shaolin, Kid, Ishida, etc…) went on to greater fame in promotions like Pride and it’s really cool to see where they first started. There are some slower fights here, but the clipping means they’re not too slow, and even in the ones with less action there’s still some really technical groundwork that’s great to watch if you enjoy that sort of thing. Obviously the DVD is in Japanese, so that includes all the writing as well as the commentary, which makes it a little more challenging to watch, but if you can get past that then you shouldn’t have a problem. Fans who love their MMA to look like Griffin-Bonnar should probably avoid as it won’t be your cup of tea, but if you’re a more hardcore fan looking for something a little more refined and technical, then you can’t go wrong with Shooto.

Coming Soon….

UFC: 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, Fight Nights 1-10, and the TUF III Finale.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 volume 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: