I've been busy lately so I wasn't able to recap most of what took place for the second half of January, so over the next couple days I will put up event recaps of RISE 86, It's Showtime Japan Countdown/REBELS.10 and Shin Nihon Kickboxing Association's Brave Hearts 18 cards.
First, I will start with RISE 86 that took place on January 28th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo and was headlined by a Super Lightweight title fight between champion Koji Yoshimoto and Yasuomi Soda. Also on the card were a pair of superfights featuring promotional Bantamweight champion KENJI and Middleweight champion Takafumi Morita, as well as a #1 contender's bout at 63kg between K-1 vets Yuto Watanabe and Shohei Asahara.
In the main event, Super Lightweight champion Koji Yoshimoto defended his title for the second time, edging out Yasuomi Soda and taking a unanimous decision on scores of 48-47, 47-46(x2). It appears as though with the win Yoshimoto (24-13-3, 3 KO) will be focusing on going global and taking on some of the world's best, presumably at 63kg and not 65kg. Yoshimoto may not have been on a lot of people's radar, but a win in K-1 and a huge win over prospect Son Hyun Lee back at RISE 85 has made Yoshimoto an interesting fighter to look out for. At 32, if Yoshimoto is looking to make a run at the top of the 63kg division, his time is winding down. Personally, I don't think Yoshimoto possesses the tools to challenge the likes of Koya Urabe, Masaaki Noiri, Rashata, etc., let alone the world's best. The loss for Soda (10-1-0, 3 KO) is his first as he sported a spotless 10-0 record coming into the fight. Despite the loss, Soda put forth a good effort against a fighter who seems to be hitting his stride and at 23, Soda has time to improve.
In the co-main event and probably the most important fight of the night, RISE Bantamweight champion KENJI took on Lumpinee Bantamweight ranker Pajonsuk Por. Pramuk in a 55kg fight. The fight appears to have been close, but Pajonsuk suffered from two (possibly three) point deductions that were a result of clinch knees, something that has been removed from RISE, much like K-1 and Krush. KENJI took a unanimous decision on scores of 29-26 and 29-25(x2). This is a huge win for KENJI (19-4-0, 13 KO) and further establishes his name at 55kg. His next fight will take place in what should be shaping up to be a stacked RISE 87 card, though it is unclear whether or not he will be defending his title, but with a lack of new challengers, he will likely be in a superfight. Pajonsuk (110-20-1) has fought in Japan several times before in Shootboxing, where he has had great success, however he hadn't faced anyone with the same skill level of KENJI. However, Pajonsuk had fought the week prior against Karim Bennoui at 60kg where he managed a 5 round draw, so one could assume that fight took a bit of a toll on him.
In another superfight featuring a RISE champion, Middleweight champ Takafumi Morita scored a unanimous decision win over Korean fighter Cha Un-pyo on scores of 30-27, 29-26 and 30-26. Morita (12-1-1, 5 KO) scored a pair of knockdowns to nab the win. Morita is a fighter that, along with Kenta and Yuji Nashiro, made a name for himself in the K-1 Japan MAX Tournament last year. Unlike fellow prospect Hiroki Nakajima, who he beat in that tournament, Morita possesses equally impressive offensive and defensive tools and likes to use pressure and a high volume of strikes to crack his opponents. If FIKA holds a Japan qualifying tournament, Morita has a very good chance to play spoiler should he be selected for the tournament.
In a 63kg #1 contender's bout, #2 ranked Yuto Watanabe was able to edge out an extension round majority decision over #3 ranked Shohei Asahara on scores of 10-10 and 10-9(x2) after a 3 round majority draw on scores of 29-28 and 29-29(x2). With the win Watanabe (10-5-0, 2 KO) earns the right to face current Lightweight champ Yuki in his first title defense at RISE 87 on March 24th. Watanabe is a middle of the road fighter at 63kg and has had trouble stringing together wins since reaching the higher levels of the division, going 4-4 in his last 8 without any consecutive wins. I expect the trend to continue for Watanabe, though the long layoff for Yuki could cause problems and give Watanabe an edge. Asahara (8-6-0, 2 KO) drops back onto a 2-fight losing streak and cements his status as a divisional gatekeeper.
RISE 87 is set for March 24th and although only one fight has been announced, the list of participants is very promising. The lone fight announced is Lightweight champion Yuki defending his title against Yuto Watanabe. Participants for the card are Heavyweight champ Makoto Uehara, Bantamweight champ KENJI, Super Featherweight champ Kosuke Komiyama, Erika Kamimura, Kengo Shimizu, Ryo Pegasus and J-Network Featherweight champion Masato Sato. Speculation on my part is that Uehara will defend his title against Shimizu and, with two quarterfinal bouts left in the RISE Featherweight tournament that are set to take place on this card, Ryo Pegasus and Masato Sato will each be featured in one, but likely not against each other as they are the #1 and #2 ranked fighters in the division.
Quick results after the jump