SHOOTO Quarterly Report (part 1):
The first part of the year has come and gone, and we are already a couple weeks into Q2. The first quarter of 2003 had some truly exciting moments for the sport of Shooto, and it looks like that trend will continue n through the next portion of the year. However, before we get into the outlook for the coming months, let’s take a look back and see what has gone down so far.
Interestingly, the year opened up not in Japan but rather in the mid-south of the good ole’ U.S. of A. It was Tennessee Shooto that kicked things off featuring everything from UFC veterans to exciting new talent. and pleasantly, all in front of a sell-out crowd. Travis Wuiff headlined the card, putting on a crowd-pleasing performance with a methodical handling of his opponent. Then there were strong performances by newcomer Chris Spedale – TKO’ing his opposition in a come from behind victory, Ed Clay – who at only 21 years of age shows a great deal of potential, and finally Kentucky fighter – Joe Jordan – who will be a part of the up coming Superbrawl mega-card scheduled for May 9th in Honolulu, Hawaii. Then things headed out to Japan where Joao Roaque made an impressive return to MMA with a decisive decision victory over the stoic Naoya Uematsu. Also on that card was yet another impressive performance by top female fighter Erica Montoya, and the disappointing loss by her instructor, Chris Brennan. Brennan succumbed to an unorthydox spinning ankle-lock courtesy or Takaharu Murahama. Lastly, former Shooto Lightweight contender, Katsuya Toida also made his return by eking out a decision victory over Rami Boukai. A blockbuster start for the New Year to say the least.
February featured the international Shooto scene with events in Hawaii and Finland. However, as one would expect there was plenty of Shooto action in Japan as the month started out in Tokyo. The K’z factory promoted event on the 6th suffered the cancellation of the main-event between John Renken and Kuniyoshi Hironaka, but regardless, the show was a huge success some great bouts which featuried some great Shooto up-and-comers. These includeg Jin Kazeta and Mitsuhiro Ishida, both of which won their respective bouts. Then in Hawaii, the stage was set for Egan Inoue to get his long awaited shot at the Shooto Light Heavy Weight World title. He dominated Japanese fighter Yukiya Naito, and opened the challenge to current World Champ Masanori Suda. Also on that card were solid wins by top Hawaiians Ronald Jhun and Niko Vitale – two fighters who have been on the edge of real stardom, but have just not been able to break out yet. After that, the European Shooto scene continued to gain momentum when the Finnish promoter – FinfFighters’ Gym – held their second Shooto sanctioned event, which was headlined by a victorious John-Olav Einemo. FinFighters now joins Real Fighting Promotions out of Holland as the core of Shooto’s European contingent. Then just one day later it was back out to Japan for a bout with Shooto Welterweight World Champion, Takanori Gomi. He was looking for a bout to keep busy, and used that opportunity to impress with an armbar victory over Cesar Gracie student Nick Ertl. Along with that, the Shooto Featherweight title scene heated up when both Kentaru Imaizumi and Ryota Matsune (both top ten rankers) bested Shuichiro Katsumura and Kimihito Nonaka respectively (also rankers). Additionally, American Top Team fighter Dustin Denes continued his pursuit of the Shooto Light Heavyweight belt with a win over long time ranker Shiko Yamashita. The outcome of Inoue/Suda is of particular interest to Floridian who is hungry for his shot.
MMA fighter Baz Mohammad Mobarez inspires Afghanistan
March was also a month for international Shooto action, but in terms of the match-ups themselves rather than the locations. On the 18th the unpredictable Murahama defeated Norwegian Thomas Hytten, Tetsuji Kato climbed back into the ring after more that a year off to soundly defeat American Brian Gassaway, Shonie Carter lived up to his sobriquet of Mr. International by earning the decision win over Shooto staple fighter Seichi Ikemoto, and then. in an amazing upset, Joachim Hansen of the Scandinavian Brazilian Jiu jitsu Academy won a TKO victory over none other than Rumina Sato. This most certainly launches the Norwegian fighter into the lime-light, but also brings into question the legitimacy of Sato’s long held reputation… It will be interesting to see what the future holds for both men.