by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Having produced some of the best lightweights in the world such as Takanori Gomi, Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, Joachim Hansen, Caol Uno, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribiero, Shooto now looks to make its way to the United States in partnership with California-based Warrior’s Cup.
Shooto veteran Kenichiro Togashi made his successful American debut at the most recent Warrior’s Cup show, submitting Darren Crisp with an armbar. In addition to Togashi fighting, Kauhiro Sakamoto – president of Sustain, the leading Shooto promoter in Japan – announced a partnership with Warrior’s Cup, which would see Shooto fighters competing in the United States. MMAWeekly caught up with both Mr. Sakamoto and Warrior’s Cup promoter James Grunsky to discuss their partnership.
When asked why Shooto choose to work with Warrior’s Cup, Mr. Sakamoto responded, “Warrior’s Cup is a quality show and we chose to work with them because of a strong relationship with James Grunsky and because Shooto rules are approved in California.” He also confirmed that a number of fighters from Shooto are going to participate on the next Warrior’s Cup show, which is scheduled to take place in July. “Sending fighters over to Warrior’s Cup is the first step for Shooto coming to the United States.”
When asked about running a professional Shooto show in the United States, Mr. Sakamoto said, “Shooto will look to create Shooto North American titles, which will be defended in California. I will also talk to the Shooto commission about running a professional Shooto show in California in the future.”
Warrior’s Cup promoter James Grunsky confirmed several fighters are already signed to compete on the next Warrior’s Cup show in July. Such fighters include Kenichiro Togashi, 2005 Shooto Lightweight Rookie Champion Tenkei Fujimiya, 2006 Shooto Lightweight Rookie Champion “Wicky” Akiyo Nishiura and 2006 Shooto Welterweight Rookie Runner-Up Shinji Sasaki. More fighters are scheduled to participate, but are yet to be announced.