Satoru Kitaoka’s strategy at the Saitama Super Arena might not have been entertaining, but it was effective. It enabled him to successfully defend his 155-pound title courtesy of a unanimous decision win over Yoshiyuki Yoshida at Deep: Dream Impact.
Kitaoka was making the first defense of the title he won by beating Daisuke Nakamura way back in April of 2013 and was also looking to break a losing streak, which had seen him taste defeat on three previous New Year’s Eve events.
On the back of six straight wins, Yoshida probably came in as a slight favorite, but the former UFC welterweight had no answer for the wrestling-based offence of the reigning Deep 155-pound champion, who was able to take him down and keep him down for almost the entire three rounds.
The victory was Kitaoka’s third in a row and sees him improve to 35-13-9, while Yoshida, who has been enjoying a late career resurgence as a lightweight, drops to 17-7 with a loss that effectively ends any hopes he might have harbored of signing with the UFC for a second time.
In the co-main event, Yuki Montoya (13-4) cemented his status as one of Japan’s top flyweights with a TKO win over Matt Manzanares (7-4). Midway through the third round, he caught a left kick, took his opponent down, mounted him, and then, after the American had given up his back, rained down punches until the referee had no option but to stop the fight.
One of the most impressive performances of the evening at the Saitama Super Arena, which has a long history of hosting MMA events on Dec. 31, came from Bantamweight King of Pancrase Shintaro Ishiwatari (19-6-4), who took out Deep 135-pound champion Takafumi Otsuka (18-13-1) in under a round.
Otsuka was clearly outgunned in the striking department and allowed himself to be backed up against the cage, where Ishiwatari landed a perfectly timed straight left hand from the southpaw stance, face-planting his opponent with the corner frantically throwing in the towel as the referee stepped in to save him from further punishment.
Earlier in the afternoon, Deep 145-pound champion Kazunori Yokota (22-5-3) extended his remarkable winning streak to ten with a unanimous decision win over current Lightweight King of Pancrase Isao Kobayashi (16-2), who tasted defeat for the first time since 2010.
The marathon 22-fight card also featured wins for Yoshiro Maeda, Tatsumitsu Wada, Ayaka Hamasaki, Shizuka Sugiyama, Satoko Shinashi, Yasuaki Kishimoto, Kiyotaka Shimizu, and Toshiaki Kitada.
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