by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
On Friday night in Korakuen Hall, Shooto puts on the latest edition of its “Back To Our Roots” show with several promising Class A bouts on tap. In the main event, Shooto Lightweight Champion “Lion” Takeshi Inoue defends his title for the first time against Shooto Pacific Rim Lightweight Champion Akitoshi Tamura.
In a number one contender’s match in the Shooto Lightweight division, Pride veteran Hatsu Hioki takes on Shah Franco/AACC fighter Antonio Carvalho. In another number one contender’s match in the Shooto Featherweight division, Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3 fighter Kenji Osawa takes on Nova Uniao fighter Marcos Galvao.
CLASS A FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT:
ATSUSHI YAMAMOTO VS. KOETSU OKAZAKI
Killer Bee fighter Atsushi Yamamoto takes on 2004 Shooto Featherweight Rookie Champion Koetsu Okazaki. Yamamoto has a 10-3-1 record in MMA and trains out of Killer Bee with Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Koetsu Okazaki has a 4-0-1 record in MMA and trains out of Cobra Kai MMA Dojo with Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Yamamoto last fought at Shooto “Back To Our Roots”, beating 2005 Shooto Featherweight Rookie Champion Takeya Mizugaki by decision. Okazaki enters this fight coming off of a dominant decision victory over So Tazawa at Shooto GIG West 6.
Okazaki has been dominant since he returned to fighting after an 18-month hiatus and looks to build himself up towards a title shot as does Yamamoto, who has gone 2-0 since moving down to featherweight. Both fighters are predominately ground fighters, whoever gets on top first will have a distinct advantage over their opponent. Its an interesting fight because the winner sets himself up for a possible shot at the title down the line. Both fighters are evenly matched, but I give the slight edge to Yamamoto. He is the more polished striker of the two and if he gets on top he has excellent control. In a very close fight, Yamamoto should be able to pull out a close decision based on the fact of being more active and being a more polished striker.
Prediction: Atsushi Yamamoto by decision.
CLASS A BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT:
MASATOSHI ABE VS. DANIEL OTERO
AACC fighter Masatoshi Abe takes on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion Daniel Otero. Abe has a 7-1-1 record in MMA and trains out of AACC with Hiroyuki Abe. Otero has a 4-0-1 record in MMA and trains out of Brazil. Abe is coming off a stoppage victory over Junji Ikoma, breaking Ikoma’s orbital bone in July of last year. Otero stopped Japanese fighter Tomohiro Hashi with strikes at Shooto Brazil 10.
Abe is in line for the next shot at the Shooto Bantamweight Championship, which is held by former friend and teammate “BJ” Kojima. Otero is a tough opponent, but is nowhere near ready to take on Abe, who has been on tear since coming back to competition. Otero’s only shot at winning is catching Abe on the ground with some type of submission, but Abe should be ready for anything that Otero has to offer on the ground. On the feet, Abe has a distinct advantage and he should be able to exploit that to full effect against Otero. This should be a warm-up fight for Abe en route to meeting his former teammate for the Shooto Bantamweight Championship.
Prediction: Masatoshi Abe by TKO in the first round.
CLASS A FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT:
KENJI OSAWA VS. MARCOS GALVAO
In a number one contender’s match for the Shooto Featherweight Championship, Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3 fighter Kenji Osawa takes on Nova Uniao fighter Marcos Galvao. Osawa has a 12-5-1 record in MMA and trains out of Wajyutsu Keisyukai A3 with Hidetaka Monma. Marcos Galvao has a 5-1 record in MMA and trains out of Nova Uniao with Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro. Osawa recently knocked out 2005 Shooto Featherweight Rookie Champion Takeya Mizugaki in November of last year. Galvao is coming off a decision victory over Shooto veteran Naoya Uematsu at Fury FC 1.
We have a classic grappler vs. striker match-up here. Both fighters last loss came to the same opponent in Shooto Featherweight Champion Akitoshi Hokazono. If Osawa keeps the fight on the feet, it will only be a matter of time before he lands that big punch that puts Galvao on his back. Galvao needs to crowd Osawa and set-up the takedown without getting tagged in the process, taking the fight to his world.
This fight has fireworks written all over it and will no doubt live up to expectations. Osawa seems to be on a mission to become a champion and he showed tremendous heart in his last fight by surviving Mizugaki’s onslaught and coming back to knock him out, this fight should be no different. Galvao will get it on the ground early, but Osawa will eventually get back to his feet and take care of business.
Prediction: Kenji Osawa by KO in the second round.
CLASS A LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT:
HATSU HIOKI VS. ANTONIO CARVALHO
In a number one contender’s match in the Shooto Lightweight division, Pride veteran Hatsu Hioki takes on Shah Franco/AACC fighter Antonio Carvalho. Hioki has a 12-1-1 record in MMA and trains out of ALIVE with Daisuke “Amazon” Sugie. Carvalho has a 9-2 record in MMA and trains out of AACC with Masatoshi Abe. Hioki won a controversial decision over Mark Hominick at TKO 28 in a rematch of their first encounter where Hioki choked out Hominick to win the TKO Featherweight Championship. Carvalho comes off a stoppage loss to current Shooto Lightweight Champion “Lion” Takeshi Inoue in May of last year.
This could no doubt turn out to be the fight of the night with the amount of skill and talent that both fighters bring to the fight. Carvalho is coming off a serious knee injury and has been out of action for a whole year, so ring rust could be a huge factor in the fight. He also made a change in training having recently switched camps to AACC under the tutelage of Hiroyuki Abe, which should improve his stand-up. Hioki has been on a tear the past couple of years with his only hiccup being a draw with Bao Quach last year. Hioki will no doubt use his reach advantage over Carvalho to tag his legs with low kicks to set-up a takedown. Expect both fighters to be very active on the ground, but I doubt either fighter will be able to submit the other. In what should be an exciting fight, Hioki should be able squeak out a close decision over Carvalho.
Prediction: Hatsu Hioki by decision.
SHOOTO LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
“LION” TAKESHI INOUE VS. AKITOSHI TAMURA
In the main event, Shooto Lightweight Champion “Lion” Takeshi Inoue defends his title for the first time against Shooto Pacific Rim Lightweight Champion Akitoshi Tamura. Inoue has a 12-1 record in MMA and trains out of Shooting Gym Yokohama with Tenkei Fujimiya. Tamura has a 10-5-1 record in MMA and trains out of Tsudanuma Dojo with Yoshitaro Niimi. Inoue knocked out Hiroyuki Abe in an exciting fight at Shooto “Back To Our Roots”. Tamura pulled off the upset at Shooto “Back To Our Roots”, becoming the new Shooto Pacific Rim Lightweight Champion by winning a decision over Tenkei Fujimiya.
This is a rematch of a fight from November of 2005 where Inoue won a close decision over Tamura in a fight that many believed Tamura may have won if it weren’t for an early knockdown that Inoue scored over Tamura. Since being knocked out by Fujimiya in May of last year, Tamura has been on a three-fight win streak including avenging his knockout loss to Fujimiya at Shooto “Back To Our Roots”. Inoue has gone 3-0 since winning the Shooto Lightweight Championship with two of those fights being close wins. Inoue has reckless stand-up with not much technique, but he has lots of power behind those punches. Tamura doesn’t have much power, but is a very good counter puncher. This fight is the perfect recipe for an upset and that is what will happen with Tamura winning a decision by taking advantage of Inoue’s wreckless style.
Prediction: Akitoshi Tamura by decision.