Krush kicks of 2012 tomorrow with Krush.15 headlined by a pair of title fights. 55kg champ Shota Takiya defends his title in a rematch against ISKA World Bantamweight champion Nobuchika Terado and 60kg champ Hirotaka Urabe defends his title against former AJKF Super Featherweight champion Naoki Ishikawa. This post will break down the latter matchup and see how these fighters match up.
Hirotaka Urabe (c): 11-5-1 (5 KO) // 22 years old // 169 cm(5'6")
Naoki Ishikawa: 33-18-4 (18 KO) // 32 years old // 176 cm(5'9")
Hirotaka Urabe is one of the many products of the K-1 Koshien system that have found success in Krush. Though he did not have the success of his brother in the Koshien system, he has found success in his post-Koshien career. Heading into his first fight with Ishikawa, Urabe was a pedestrian 7-5, but his upset win vaulted him to his current 6-fight win streak which saw him knock out Kyoken Yuji Takeuchi to capture the Krush 60kg title. Ishikawa was a long-time All Japan Kickboxing Federation fighter who was one of the many fighters from AJKF who had a rough year or two after the promotion's demise. Heading into their first fight, Ishikawa had lost 3 of his last 4 and was struggling to adapt to fighting under K-1 rules. Since their fight Ishikawa is 2-1, though all 3 of his fights have come under a ruleset that allowed clinching and elbows. After his last fight, Ishikawa stated he wanted to fight the winner of the Krush Supernova Tournament and retire following the fight, but Ishikawa has not stated whether this will be his last fight. Should he lose, I expect him to consider it more than if he wins.
Urabe, much like his brother, possesses excellent boxing which he couples with good head movement, good footwork and flashy head kicks and knees. He throws in combination extremely well, as he did in finishing Yuji Takeuchi. He puts together his boxing with powerful head kicks very well. Defensively, Urabe is one of the more sound fighters in the division, using footwork and head movement to move in and out of range, taking little damage. His weaknesses come out when his opponent stays at distance and picks him apart with kicks, which Masaaki Noiri was able to do successfully in a close fight. Urabe also has trouble controlling his emotions sometimes as he allowed young Mike's Gym fighter Maik Redan to get into his head at the beginning of their fight and it caused Urabe to focus on other things and he got hit for his troubles. Ishikawa's biggest weapons will be completely useless in this fight because he excels in the clinch and with elbows, both of which are not allowed under Krush rules. With his best weapons unavailable, Ishikawa's best offense is in his kicks. Should he keep Urabe at range and tenderize his legs and body, Ishikawa can win the fight. His weaknesses are his lack of boxing defense. Coupled with his not so great chin, Urabe could end the fight with a nicely put together combination.
Urabe's key to victory is coming forward and pressuring Ishikawa with combinations, using his head movement to avoid any of Ishikawa's boxing. While I don't believe he possesses the same boxing prowess of his brother, he has very good hands and I feel as though he has more power than his brother. Like their first fight, hurting Ishikawa and roughing him up will allow Urabe to get a decision or stoppage victory. Ishikawa's key to victory is staying at range and keeping Urabe from landing combinations with sharp leg and body kicks. If Ishikawa can tenderize Urabe he can cruise to a decision victory or he could soften Urabe up for a flying knee.
My pick for this fight is Hirotaka Urabe. At some point, he will land in combination and Ishikawa will not be able to stay standing. Ishikawa has been resilient even in his later years so I don't think Urabe will finish him, but it will be more one-sided than their first fight.
Fight videos of both fighters after the break
Hirotaka Urabe vs "Kyoken" Yuji Takeuchi at Krush Triple Final
Hirotaka Urabe vs Masaaki Noiri at Krush.10
Naoki Ishikawa vs Makoto Morishige at Krush 70kg Tournament 1st Round
Naoki Ishikawa vs Yuto Watanabe at 2010 K-1 -63kg Final 16
Naoki Ishikawa vs Kizaemon Saiga at 2010 K-1 -63kg Tournament Final