Neo Blood Qualifying Tournament Featherweight Semifinal: Nobuhisa Kudo vs. Yuki Takahashi 1R 1:32. They went all out for the ankle locks right away, and it appeared there wasn't going to be much striking here, but the one punch turned out to be one of the most improbable and spectacular KO's I've ever seen. When both stood up in the scramble after Kudo's attempt to drop into another ankle lock failed, Kudo just jacked Takahashi's jaw with a huge right hook. What made it so memorable wasn't simply that it came totally out of nowhere, but that Takahashi was so out of it he fell into a squat with his shoulder actually crashing his own knee as his head bobbled in between his legs!
Neo Blood Qualifying Tournament Lightweight Final: Ben Buchan vs. Shinriki Akiyama 1R 3:05. Buchan had an outside trip into mount, and kept looking for the armbar. The advantage changed back and forth with more focus on keeping position than 20 years ago, but still the obvious Pancrase preference to try to finish first, before Buchan finally hit the bell down armbar.
Shotaro Yabe vs. Joshua Robison 1R 4:28. Robison appeared to be a solid conventional fighter, but he wasn't prepared for all the submissions Yabe would throw at him once he secured top control. Yabe nearly had Robison with a lengthy triangle before taking him out with the armbar.
Malcolm Hendrix vs. Atsushi Saito 1R 3:59. This was such a wild, out of control brawl that Saito actually tried a lariat! The technique wasn't very good, but it's nice to actually see a fight in 2013 that possesses the unbridled aggression of the earliest days of no holds barred fighting. They seemed to tire quickly, and Hendrix was able to hit a rear naked choke thta wasn't even that deep soon after getting the 1st takedown, seemingly because Saito was already lagging too much to offer proper resistance. Above average match.
Chikara Shimabukuro vs. Yusuke Ogikubo 1R 0:29. Shimabukuro flicked out the left jab then came over the top with the right for the 1 punch knockout.
Harushige Sasagawa vs. Tomoharu Arao 2R. A more technically sound, but less exciting bout. The first round was close, but Sasagawa clearly took over in the 2nd with his grappling, holding a lengthy body lock and swelling Arao's left eye with punches. Average match.
Toshihiro Komiya vs. Yukio Kishi 2R. Two grinders struggling for position, but Komiya won the grappling and jiu jitsu battles. It started out with grueling for the viewer to sit through clinching, but although time ultimately ran out, Komiya was at least very aggressive taking Kishi's back and going for the choke once he did finally leverage him to the canvas. Komiya had the quick takedown in the second, but Kishi kept reguarding until Komiya finally took his back again. Poor match.
Featherweight Tournament Final: Nobuhisa Kudo vs. Kentaro Ushiku 1R 1:52. Kudo came out aggressive, but got caught with an outside trip. Ushiku seemed in control, but Kudo creeped his legs up his sides, and as soon as Ushiku started to ground & pound, locked the armbar for the win.
Takatoshi Matsumoto vs. Kota Kondo R2 1:44. Matsumoto was a lefty with a reach advantage, but wanted nothing to do with standup to the point he essentially baited Kondo down on top of him to start the fight like the old BJJ masters. Matsumoto faired much better when he got his own takedown, getting Kondo's back when a reversal failed and going for the rear naked choke for the rest of the round. Kondo came out swinging in R2, but after 1 good shot Matsumoto dropped for a single leg and went back to outgrappling Kondo, mounting when an ill advised Kondo guillotine failed then taking Kondo's back right after he'd rolled him with a headlock and tapping him with a rear naked choke. An entertaining match because although Kondo was overmatched on the mat, he kept trying things, giving Matsumoto the opportunity to show his superior mat technique with a counter. Above average match.
Satoshi Inaba vs. Toshihiro Taguchi 1R 2:37. Inaba was much quicker, more fluid, and light on his feet. He was clearly too good for Taguchi in standup, though he didn't actually land that many shots. It was very difficult to determine exactly what happened, but it seemed an overhand by Inaba might have caused an orbital injury, so Taguchi pulled guard and the ref had the doctor check him out once he realized Taguchi wasn't right.
Toshikazu Suzuki vs. Toru Kanamori R1 2:02. Kanamori cut Suzuki early, and after a long delay, got aggressive looking to get the stoppage. However, after a good knee, Kanamori got caught charging in with an overhand left and Suzuki put a flurry on him then looked for the takedown. Suzuki couldn't hit the throw, but hopped on his back and got the quick tap to the standing rear naked choke.
Hiroki Aoki vs. Kohei Tokeshi R2 1:49. Aoki had the 5 inch reach advantage, but got worked over on the inside in Tokeshi's muay thai clinch due to Tokeshi's powerful knees and overhand right. Aoki was able to withstand this to start both rounds though, take Tokeshi's back and drag him down. On the ground, Aoki dominated mainly due to his body triangle, which led to the rear naked choke finish in the 2nd. A pretty interesting fight since both did very well in their own area.
Naoki Tajima vs. Hideki Nishino 3R. Nishino was all about the takedown early, getting a quick outside trip against the ropes, but southpaw Tajima was packing thunder in the left, cracking him with a big left hook when he got up then bloodying Nishino's nose with a straight. Tajima had a good left kick as well, particularly the front kick, and was the one doing all the damage even though Nishino might get the 1st round from crappy judges for riding time. Tajima was winning all the exchanges in the 2nd and 3rd, not only landing more shots, but also much harder ones. Nishino's weapon was his right straight, and he cracked Tajima good once early in the 3rd, but he pretty much gave up on the takedowns after the 1st, so I had him losing 30-27. Above average match.
Hiroshi Hayashi vs. Christopher Yeagley R1 1:49. Yeagley managed to shake himself out of a slam, but Hayashi stood over and punched down, hurting him with a right as he came around the left side then pounding him out.
Taichi Nakajima vs. Shoko Sato 3R. These guys started slow because they're tall 135ers who had to adjust to suddenly not having the reach advantage, but the match got better and better with each round. It may not have been textbook perfect MMA, but what I liked about this is they were unpredictable, and kept coming up with takedowns and reversals you don't normally see. Veteran Sato was the first to start closing the distance, getting into range and scoring often in the 2nd half of R1. Nakajima defended well early in R2, tiring the veteran out enough that he began to take over through a combination of being slightly unorthodox and simply improvising well. Nakajima had a takedown late in R2, and it was enough to earn him the round, sending it to the extra round. Nakajima's on the fly skills were best exemplified by sprawling just enough to barely defend a double leg then tripping Sato up with his arms to take control. Sato almost had an elevator into a triangle or armbar, but then swept with a backward roll into a heel hook only to have Nakajima escape and take him right back down. Sato kept finding ways to get off his back, but it took so much energy that Nakajima would just be right back in on the single leg. Nakajima won a unanimous decision. Good match.
Noboru Tahara vs. Takuya Eizumi 3R. Wrestler vs. striker with grappler Tahara doing what he needed to do, but unfortunately that was mostly negating action. Eizumi looked for the bomb in standup, while Tahara just wanted to grab him and take him down. Eizumi needed more fakes or at leatst volume because Tahara wasn't just going to let him crack him with a KO blow, but Tahara would take him down if he even thought about overcommitting to anything. Eizumi's best offense was actually when he sprawled and kicked Tahara in the face as Tahara was standing back up from the failed takedown. Below average match.
Shunpei Ota vs. Tomoaki Ueyama R1 1:01. Ota got the takedown and was so deep in on the neck before Ueyama could react he was able to submit him even though he got the hooks in well after the choke.
AKA vs. Pancrast: William Noland vs. Keiichiro Yamamiya 3R. Noland kept Yamamiya's back against the ropes, but never actually cut off the ring, so Yamamiya basically did laps and occasionally someone would land a strike. Noland began to take advantage of his reach advantage, landing the middle kick consistently in R2, and Yamamiya never had an answer. Noland tried to attack the head once he had Yamamiya's hands dropping to defend the body, but Yamamiya was still able to defend the head. Yamamiya had the occasional good body punch, but was really never able to get much offense going though because he had to charge off the ropes to try to land a punch, so there wasn't much deception. Average match.
Welterweight Next Challenger Decision Tournament Final: Shingo Suzuki vs. Sojiro Orui R2 3:29. These two strikes might not have been the most technically sound, but you never knew what you were going to get from them, and that awkwardness and unpredictability kept things interesting. Suzuki had a strong desire to be offensive, but he'd leave himself really prone when he'd rush Orui with his head up. Orui soon dropped Suzuki when he charged into a right hook counter and tried to pound him out on the ground, but Suzuki nearly armbarred him and was able to regroup in his guard. Suzuki got a mouse under his right eye, and Orui was targetting it with the jab. Orui's confidence seemed to be growing while Suzuki began to hesitate on his charges, and it was now Orui who was concentrating on trying to be offensive. However, just when you thought Orui had taken over the fight, Suzuki ducked left to avoid the jab and landed an awkward short left uppercut then came over the top with a right for the KO. Above average match.
AB (Hiroki Aoki) vs. Kota Okazawa R3 2:01. Fun grappling match that didn't follow the typical patterns, instead the highlights were usually unexpected if not genuinely surprising attacks or counters. Okazawa would get the takedowns, but this Aoki would immediately attack with submissions like that Aoki. Aoki was a real risk taker. He gave his back trying to escape the mount, managed to stand and tried for a Kimura sweep only to get reversed and wind up right back in Okazawa's mount. In a sequence I don't recall seeing before, Okazawa gambled for the arm when AB bucked, so AB somehow managed to sneak around and take his back. After getting taken down and mounted in the previous rounds, AB worked a clinch in the corner and somehow got Okazawa's back, body triangled, flattened him out, and threw lefts until they stopped it because Okazawa was defenseless. Okazawa made some mistakes here, but at least from a fan's perspective, they allowed AB and the match itself to be more enjoyable. Good match.
Takenori Sato vs. Akihiro Maruyama 3R. A stalemate best exemplified by a 2+ minute stretch in the 2nd where Sato tried to go for a standing Kimura, and Maruyama just joined his hands and kept a solid base to stay on his feet blocking it. They were so even in the standing grappling that neither could get a takedown, and if they did the other was up in a few seconds without taking any damage. Maruyama seemed to be attacking most of the fight without ever touching Sato, and Sato seemed to be feeling him out looking for the opening that he never actually found. Sato has that cool, calm aura where he always feels in control, and it was Maruyama doing most of the work without doing any damage or seeming to stress Sato in the least, but on the other hand Maruyama was the one that was doing something that vaguely purported to "attacking". They all had it 30-30, which is the sort of scoring I'd like to see stateside for matches where no one has any near finishes or does any damage rather than equating 3 more seconds of useless control to a point (round). Poor match.
Akira Okada vs. Jyuntaro Ami R1 2:48. Okada just seemed to take this way more seriously (Ami was busy doing Huckster poses before the fight) and was there to destroy Ami from the get go. Okada landed some nice punches, took Ami down, and delivered a ridiculous head kick when Ami pushed him off with his feet and was thinking about standing. Ami was cut really badly from the vicious shin to the forehead, and Okada was quick to pounce on him and pound his way to the doctor stop.
Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Nobuhiro Yoshitake R1 3:36. Exciting, high level standup fight. Ishiwatari is a southpaw and owned the distance with his reach advantage, but Yoshitake did a good job of countering with rights and darting in. Ishiwatari was just the smarter fighter though, always making Yoshitake think about 1 thing to set up another, for instance after Yoshitake defended a takedown, Ishiwatari dropped down to fake another but then came over the top with a right. The finish was awesome with Ishiwatari catching Yoshitake coming in with a short left hand then punting him with the soccer kick when he was on all fours.
Pancrast vs. WAND FIGHT TEAM: ISAO vs. Jorge Patino Macaco 3R. A very evenly contested match that wasn't the most entertaining in the 1st two rounds, but was nonetheless very back and forth, and they made up for it by really opening up and taking chances in the 3rd. The first two rounds were mainly grappling, with Patino have more time in top control, but neither threatening or doing any damage. Nearly 40-year-old Patino was definitely the more fatigued than 24-year-old ISAO in R3, and when he gave up on his takedown against the ropes, ISAO started to push the pace and blast him with clinch knees to bloody Patino. Patino came back getting rear mount, but ISAO turned to top control while Patino was screwing around with a bizarre kneebar. This position, like all others, didn't last long and ISAO wound up going for a Kimura after Patino stood, but it was Patino who nearly got it. Patino got ISAO's back again from a standing position, and was able to get him down by picking a leg to go into a kneebar that looked like the old pro wrestling stump puller, but Patino was so high on the back that ISAO easily slipped his head out through Patino's legs and got another takedown. I really enjoyed R3 both for the heart and the daring. A lot of people probably think it's terrible that they just call these even fights draws, but rather than making the guys shell up in the 3rd for fear of losing, they really went for it because they had nothing to lose. Above average match.
King of Pancrase Featherweight Title Match: Takumi Nakayama vs. Koji Oishi 3R. They started off cautiously, with neither taking many risks even into the 2nd round. While it was close throughout, it turned into a worthwhile match in the 2nd half. Takumi's conditioning began to be the determining factor in the 2nd, as he just kept pressuring Oishi, and had the strength and wrestling to get him down. Takumi had a takedown then hurt Oishi with a series of short right clinch uppercuts when Oishi stood, but was called for a foul for continuing to attack on the outside after he'd knocked a stunned Oishi through the ropes. Though Oishi got a "break" in being given plenty of time to recover from damage that was mostly legal, Takumi was right back on him with another takedown, and was now able to work him over on the ground. Oishi was the more technically skilled striker, but what changed things in round 3 is he finally realized he needed to disengage in order to actually capitalize. Now that Oishi wasn't getting locked up and taken down, he could use his movement to pick Takumi apart from the outside. Now it was Oishi's pressure, as well as some effective body punches, that began to wear Takumi down a bit. One judge scored it for Takumi, but the other two had it 29-29, resulting in a majority decision draw. Above average match.
Akira Okada vs. Keigo Hirayama R1 4:48. Hirayama had a huge reach advantage, but was never able to use it, as Okada able to get inside and outmuscled him in the clinch game and takedown game. Hirayama got back up late, but Okada backed him into the ropes and dropped him with a right hook. Hirayama got up, but Okada just plowed forward with a flurry of lefts and rights until Hirayama crumbled.
Eiji Ishikawa vs. Akihiro Yamazaki 3R. A total grind. This wasn't lay and pray, but Ishikawa dominated to such an extent with his wrestling the whole fight you almost felt he was glued to Yamazaki. Yamazaki was working an open guard, being active, and taking chances. Sometimes he made something happen, mostly in the good 3rd round with a kneebar and rear naked choke attempt, but even then more often Ishikawa used Yamazaki's risk taking to his advantage. Ishikawa won a unanimous decision. Average match.
Daniel Swain vs. Tomonari Kanomata R2 4:36. Swain's wrestling and aggressive ground and pound was just too good, even understanding the different rules and risking position to stand up and kick Kanomata when he was down. Swain was by no means a one-dimensional wrestler. He didn't need his standup, but he did everything really well on the ground, Kanomata just wouldn't tap or stop moving so the ref could put him out of his misery, so the comprehensive beatdown continued for much longer than it should have, with Kanomata's ear taking a real bludgeoning. The highlight for me was Swain's beautiful belly to back suplex early in the 1st. Above average match.
Yuki Kosaka vs. Ryan Hayes 3R. Competitive standup fight early that shifted entirely toward Kosaka after the 1st. Kosaka really put the volume on Hayes, not slowing down as the fight progressed despite the obvious fatigue from throwing seemingly 500 head punches. Kosaka had no real variety, but his plentiful head punch combos were damaging Hayes face. Hayes really wanted the takedown, but kept expending a lot of energy failing, and even when he got the takedowns, Kosaka was right back up. Hayes did drive Kosaka through the middle rope to the floor on a single leg attempt. Hayes was really fading midway through the 2nd to the point he looked ready to collapse from sheer exhaustion, and seeing the fatigue just made Kosaka just attack that much harder. Both men showed a lot of heart here, with Hayes recovering well in between rounds and scoring a couple flash takedowns early in the 3rd before Kosaka again took over with his head punches, and Hayes again faded (though not as badly). I had this 30-27 Kosaka, but one judge had it even, so Kosaka wound up winning by majority decision. Above average match.
Akihiro Murayama vs. Yuki Kondo 3R. Evenly matched battle of veterans. The first two rounds could have gone either way, with the main difference for me being Murayama had better movement in standup. Murayama came out with a big right then left hook, dropping Kondo to start the 3rd then machine gunned with hammerfists and looked to choke him out. Kondo made a push later in the round to try to steal it back, but what initially looked like a knockdown turned out to be an accidental headbutt to Murayama's chin. Murayama won a unanimous decision. Average match.
Noboru Tahara vs. Hiroyuki Abe R1 0:40. Tahara followed the right middle kick with a right hook to the chin.
Guy Delameau vs. Yojiro Uchimura R2 2:28. Uchimura was just firing away, landing some good middle kicks as well as punches to the body. Delameau generally landed the cleaner shots though because he was more patient and had some defensive orientation whereas Uchimura was only thinking offense. Delameau also had a clear wrestling advantage. He got Uchimura down in the corner, and applied a guillotine choke with Uchimura sitting in the corner for the win. Above average match.
Yuji Hisamatsu vs. Kei Yamamiya 3R. Majority Decision
Ikkei Nagamura vs. Naoki Yoshioka R1 4:28
Takuya Eizumi vs. Teppei Masuda R1 3:32
Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Chikara Shimabukuro 3R Unanimous Decision
Takatoshi Matsumoto vs. Tomoaki Ueyama R1 1:44
Amber Brown vs. Kikuyo Ishikawa R3 3:27
Andy Main vs. Hiroki Aoki 3R. Majority Decision
Takumi Shimazaki vs. Kishi Matsuura R1 1:24
Hikaru Hasumi vs. Shuichi Kanda 2R Split Decision
Eric Fought vs. Toru Kanamori R2 4:35
Naohiro Takaoka vs. Katsuhiro Sakanaka 2R Unanimous Decision
Kosuke Terashima vs. Gaku Suwazono 2R draw
Tatsuya So vs. Yuki Ueshima R2 0:26
Kenta Takagi vs. Kenji Nagaki R2 2:52
Flyweight Tournament Final: Kent Kambe vs. Naoto Ayuta 1R
Featherweight Tournament Final: Juntaro Ushiku vs. Kosaku Yanai 1R
Lightweight Tournament Final: Takayuki Ijima vs. Gaku Hirayama
Yusuke Mitsuzuka vs. Ryuya Suzuki R2 3:42
Chiaki Wakana vs. Yukio Kishi 2R Unanimous Decision
Toshihiro Komiya vs. Nobuhisa Kudo 2R Majority Draw
Gen Ikeda vs. Suguru Hayasaka 2R Unanimous Draw
Hiroshi Ono vs. Masaomi Saito R1 1:21
Yo Saito vs. Toshihiro Shimizu 2R Unanimous Decision
Lando Vannata vs. Mitsuyoshi Nakai R1 4:13
Keigo Hirayama vs. Shinobu Miura 3R
Hiroshi Hayashi vs. Kosei Kubota R1 2:53
Yukitaka Musashi vs. Takehiro Ishii R2 0:35
Ikkei Nagamura vs. Shinnosuke Oba R1 3:36
Guy Delameau vs. Hiroyuki Oshiro 3R
Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha 3R
TG: Caitlin Mercer vs. Justine Kish 3R. Caitlin didn't believe she could beat Justine and was just frozen the entire fight. Kish danced around, came in, landed spinning shots, knocked Mercer off her feet, and Mercer got up and stood there some more. Kish had a knockdown getting in and landing a short right in the 1st. Totally one-sided. Average match.
Tomoaki Ueyama vs. Yu Kuwabara 2R Majority Draw
Kent Kambe vs. Daiki Yamaishi R1 4:31
Kentaro Ushiku vs. Hikaru Hasumi R1 0:11
Yusei Shimokawa vs. Suguru Hayasaka R1 3:24
Kosuke Terashima vs. Tatsuya Suzuki R2 4:54
Nobuki Fujii vs. Takahiro Takaoka R1 4:57
Yusuke Kitago vs. Chiaki Wakana 2R Unanimous Decision
Takashi Sato vs. Joe Proctor R1 2:31
Kohei Kuraoka vs. Tatsuyuki Nakamura 3R Unanimous Dec
Shigeki Iijima vs. Shun Miyakawa 3R Unanimous Dec
Masahide Hiraoka vs. Kenzo Hirokawa 3R Unanimous Dec
Taiyo Hayashi vs. Satoshi Kogure 3R Unanimous Dec
Makoto Kawawa vs. Mauricio Okumura 3R Unanimous Dec
Kazunari Kimura vs. Hanbyo Oniyama 3R Unanimous Dec
Yoshinori Horie vs. Kota Fujisaki R1 2:36
Yojiro Uchimura vs. Suguru Nii R2 2:57
Takafumi Ato vs. Yuya Kodama R3 2:13
Hiroyuki Oshiro vs. Yasuhiro Kawamura 3R unanimous decision
Takaaki Nara vs. Kosei Kubota 3R unanimous decision
Takumi Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sugiyama 3R unanimous decision
Yuki Niimura vs. Ikkei Nagamura R2 2:58
Kanako Murata vs. Claire Fryer 3R unanimous decision
Masakatsu Ueda vs. Toshinori Tsunemura 3R unanimous decision
Yuki Kondo vs. Ikuhisa Minowa 3R unanimous decision
Kazuki Tokudome vs. Keiran Joblin 3R unanimous decision
Welterweight Title Match: Daiji Abe vs. Hiromitsu Miura R2 0:26
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