MA Kick started off 2013 with a big card headlined by a Heavyweight fight between Magnum Sakai and Alex Roberts as well as 5 title fights featuring MA Kick's biggest stars. The theme of the night was rematches as four of the five title fights were rematches, but only one fighter was able to pick up a 2nd win against his opponent, as two of the others lost their titles and the third nearly lost his title in a draw.
While Roberts vs Sakai was the main event, it was not the most important fight of the night, so I will recap the event by order of importance. At Flyweight, top 5 Flyweights Ryuji Kato and Yuji Uwasawa met for a second time and after another close fight, it was Ryuji Kato who came out on top, winning a split decision and earning the MA Kick Flyweight title. The win solidifies Kato as the #1 Flyweight in Japan as he had a win over almost every top fighter in his division except for Uwasawa, who he lost his MA Kick title in their first meeting last January. Kato has now won 4 in a row and is the owner of the MA Kick, WPMF Japan and WBC Japan Flyweight titles, so it's hard to know which one he will defend next, though I can imagine MA Kick want to book a 3rd fight between the two. Uwasawa was just 1-2 since beating Kato last year, getting stopped by Shuichi Wentz and Hiroyuki Yamano before picking up a win over Nagata Haryi. He is still a top 5 fighter, but he will need a solid win over a top 10 guy to remain elite.
In a Bantamweight title fight, Takashi Ohno improved to 2-0 against Takuma Ito with a majority decision win to retain his MA Kick belt. The two first fought last January with Ohno taking Ito's title and emerging as the top Bantamweight in Japan. Despite fighting in 2 different weight classes throughout his career, the 22 year old Ohno has put together a 12-4-1 record and hasn't lost a fight at Bantamweight since a split decision loss in January of 2010 to current MA Kick Super Bantamweight champ Keisuke Miyamoto. After the fight he stated he wanted to avenge his loss to Dyki and a rematch is definitely something I want to see as there's not a whole lot for him to do at Bantamweight at the moment as he owns two wins over the #2 in his division and has a win over Seiya Rokukawa, who fights Dyki for the vacant RISE 55kg title in March. Ohno vs the winner of that fight would be a great matchup. After losing in their first fight, Ito went on to lose to Kiminori Matsuzaki, which put him on a 3-fight losing streak. He bounced back with 3 straight wins, including a big win over J-Network champ Kentaro Kimura, but the loss here moves him back to square one. He did better in this fight than their first, as he was knocked down twice in their first encounter and he is still young, so it's not as if he's at a difficult time in his career. I'd like to see him rematch Matsuzaki or take on someone like J-Network Flyweight champ Yuki next.
In a Super Bantamweight title fight, champion Keisuke Miyamoto and challenger Kunihiro fought to a majority draw, giving Miyamoto his first defense. While Miyamoto escapes with the title, he takes a huge hit to his stock as Kunihiro won the only judge's card that wasn't a draw and Miyamoto was a big favorite in this fight after knocking off former #2 Super Bantamweight Ryuya Kusakabe in October. Like the two previous title fights, this was a rematch of a fight that took place in 2011 that Miyamoto won quite handily. This draw is huge for Kunihiro, who didn't have a real quality win on his record. He goes from afterthought to legitimate contender and may have earned himself another shot at Miyamoto. While I think Miyamoto may have overlooked him a bit and I would favor him in a third fight, I think Kunihiro may have figured out a gameplan to beat Miyamoto.
In a Super Featherweight title fight, Tadahiro Hashio pulled off the upset, forcing a doctor's stoppage of Hikaru Machida in the 4th round to win the MA Kick Super Featherweight title. After failing to win the MA Kick Lightweight title from Yoshito Kajita, Hashio dropped to Super Featherweight where he is now 2-0 and the MA Kick champion. While this may look like a bit of a fluke win, Hashio was step for step with Machida after a rough first round and was able to open up a cut that stopped the fight, so props to him. Machida now finds himself on a 3-fight losing streak after a loss to Yoshinori Nakasuka and a similar cut stoppage loss to RIOT at K-SPIRIT 4. After looking to be one of Japan's most promising prospects over the last 2 years, Machida finds himself without any titles and with a bit of an exploitable flaw for the ruleset he fights under. While I don't think these cut stoppages will drive him away from full contact rules, it would be interesting to see what he could do against RISE and Krush's crop of 60kg fighters.
In the night's final title fight, Super Welterweight champion Kazuya Takeda was upset by Hiroto, who earned a doctor's stoppage via cuts in the 3rd round. Keeping with the night's theme, this was another rematch and Takeda had won their first fight in March of 2011, netting him the MA Kick title. Hiroto had failed twice before in winning the title, as he lost the first fight to Takeda and then lost to Masahito Arthur in a #1 contender bout. However a 4-1 record since the loss to Arthur earned him this shot which he capitalized on. Like the other fights, I expect a third fight between these two due to the nature of the stoppage, but it's a solid win for the previously unheralded Hiroto. Takeda reached a career high in 2012, going 4-0 including a big win over TOMOYUKI, but takes a step back to start 2013. That being said, I believe he is one of Japan's best 70kg fighters, if not the best, who has not fought on a bigger stage.
Quick results after the break
Heavyweight Fight: Alex Roberts def. Magnum Sakai by 3rd round KO (punches) at 1:04
MA Kick Super Featherweight Title Fight: Tadahiro Hashio def. Hikaru Machida (c) by 4th round TKO (cut) at 1:09
MA Kick Super Bantamweight Title Fight: Keisuke Miyamoto (c) and Kunihiro fought to a 5th round Majority Draw (48-48, 49-49, 48-49)
MA Kick Super Welterweight Title Fight: Hiroto def. Kazuya Takeda (c) by 3rd round TKO (cut) at 2:49
MA Kick Bantamweight Title Fight: Takashi Ohno (c) def. Takuma Ito by 5th round Majority Decision (50-48, 49-48, 48-48)
MA Kick Flyweight Title Fight: Ryuji Kato def. Yuji Uwasawa (c) by 5th round Split Decision (49-48, 49-48, 49-50)
59kg Fight: Kenryu def. Eiji by 1st round KO (3 knockdowns) at 1:55
61kg Fight: Kyoshiro and AK2 fought to a 3rd round Unanimous Draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28)
63kg Fight: Shunsuke Kono def. DAI by 2nd round KO at 0:24
67kg Fight: Yuichi Toyama def. SHINGI by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27)