Almost exactly five years ago Andy Souwer stepped into the ring against Hinata Watanabe as a two-time K-1 World MAX Champion who had the previous year stood with Giorgio Petrosyan in the K-1 World MAX Finals in a fight that saw Petrosyan win the World MAX Championship and cement his legacy as the top dog. Hinata Watanabe was an up-and-comer in Japan that was looking to make a name for himself and called out Andy Souwer. Not only did he call out Andy Souwer, but he did it on what was arguably Souwer's home turf of Shoot Boxing.
Shoot Boxing, for the uninitiated, is a hybrid of kickboxing and judo. Not only are kickboxing techniques involved, but throws, trips and standing submissions are all legal within the realm of Shoot Boxing. When they two stepped into the ring many had seen Hinata on the rise and Souwer on the decline. The only thing was that Hinata wasn't expecting the standing choke. How could he?
Souwer made use of Shoot Boxing's unique rules to handily defeat Hinata in under a minute. Needless to say, Hinata was humbled. Since then Hinata has continued to toil throughout Japan, making a name for himself as one of the best and most active fighters at 70kg. He never forgot that loss to Souwer, though, which reared its ugly head again in 2013 when he met Andy Souwer's chosen successor to the throne of Souwer Power in Canadian Josh Jauncey, picking up the win over Souwer's star pupil.
The rematch between Souwer and Hinata would have to happen sooner or later and almost five years to the day after their first meeting in a Shoot Boxing ring they met in Japan again, this time in the REBELS ring. What followed was an entirely different fight. Both men have had their ups and downs over the past few years, but the rematch still meant something. The two met yesterday afternoon in the legendary Korakuen Hall right next to the Tokyo Dome, a venue that has seen some of the most memorable fights in MMA and kickboxing history, as well as historical moments in professional wrestling history -- all of it is simply kakutougi in Japan -- and this time Hinata was able to pull off the decision victory over the 32 year old Souwer, avenging one of the most embarrassing losses of his career.