From Richard Santoro (SHOOTO):
Here is comes… Shooto’s year end mega-card. Shooto promoter, Sustain, always finishes out the year strong with a huge and exciting event line-up. While this one is not quite as blockbuster as some others in preceding years, it certainly promises to be a memorable one featuring titles bouts and hot up-and-comers.
Shooto middleweight rookie tournament Champion, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, is taking on 18 year old Cesar Gracie student and newly ‘crowned’ BJJ purple belt Nick Diaz. Both men are young, skilled and ready to make their mark.
Next is the fighter formerly known as Takumi Nakayama (now just Takumi) taking on Norwegian Shootor Joachim Hansen. Takumi is coming is coming off of a draw with Rumina Sato after breaking his two fight losing streak by defeating respected fighter Takeshi Yamazaki. Hansen who is 2-1 in the Finnfight promotion also won his Shooto debut in Scandinavia’s first ever professional Shooto event. Will this be enough experience to put down Takumi???
Next up is Shooto Featherweight rankers Hisao Ikeda and Masato Shiozawa. Ikeda has a win and a draw this year, is now looking to cement his place as the top contender at this weight despite the tournament that is running to establish that very spot. Shiozawa has two wins this year and wants to make his mark. He is ranked 9th and was left out of that Featherweight tournament so a win here could be for him.
Another Shooto rookie tournament winner is on the card ready too not only prove that he is a major player in the Shooto circuit, but on the world stage as well. After winning the Shooto Welterweight tourney and climbing up the Shooto rankings, Tetsuya Kawajiri is stepping up to face the very dangerous Vitor Ribeiro. Ribeiro, who has already dispatched two Shooto rankers in the past, sees this a big step toward vying for the belt. You can bet the winner of this one will be very close to obtaining that goal.
Shooto veteran and stalwart competitor Jake Shields will be laying it down against one of Shooto’s hottest commodities Hayato Sakurai. Shields lost his Shooto debut against Ray Cooper by a very close majority decision, but he has had a good measure of success in other venues. He is looking to translate those victories over into Shooto, where a win would really shake things up. Sakurai is getting back into the ring after quite a lay-off. He has been nursing and injured back and bruised ego after his disappointing loss to Matt Hughes in the UFC. This is the first step for him to get back on track and work towards reclaiming his status as the top fighter in this weight class, not to mention reaqcuiring the Shooto Middleweight crown which was vacated by Anderson Silva (who defeated Sakurai for the belt in the first place).
Then there is the highly anticipated rematch between Alexandre Nogueira and Hiroyki Abe. Abe defeated the champion by KO in a non-title fight and now this is his chance to take the belt once and for all. However, Nogueira will be twice as dangerous because this is not only a title bout, but also a chance at redemption. This scenario played itself out before when the Champ soundly defeated Tetsuo Katsuta in a rematch after Katsuta had also won a non-title bout. Even if Nogueira does win, he won’t be able to relax because the Shooto lightweight division is quickly becoming one of the toughest in the business. Number two ranked Stephan Paling dispatched another opponent this past weekend and is primed and ready for his chance at the champ. There is also Norifumi Yamamoto the bruiser who decimated Katsuta, the ever dangerous Naoya Uematsu, and the new kid on the block Bao Quach. The possibilities at this weight are very interesting.
Finally, closing out the card is the long awaited match-up between Dokonjonosuke Mishima and Takanori Gomi. Gomi is still the only undefeated fighter at this level and he is the proud owner of the Shooto Welterweight Championship belt. Mishima has his work cut out for him, but he has the size and grappling expertise to truly challenge the champion. However, it is Gomi’s aggression and striking that could be the main factor in determining the outcome for this one.
The entire card is listed below:
Bout #1: Middleweight [76 Kg] 167.5 lbs
Bout #2: Welterweight [70 Kg] 154.3 lbs
Bout #3: Featherweight [60 Kg] 135.3 lbs
Bout #4: Welterweight [70 Kg] 154.3 lbs
Bout #5: Middleweight [76 Kg] 167.5 lbs
Bout #6: Lightweight [65 Kg] 143.3 lbs
Bout #7: Welterweight [70 Kg] 154.3 lbs Championship