Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Headlining the nine-fight Shooto showdown on Friday (tonight) is the Shooto Pacific Rim Bantamweight (formerly called featherweight) champion Keita Ishibashi defending his belt for the second time against massive veteran Shoko Sato.
Ishibashi had a rough start in his Shooto career including a KO loss that went on Kyoji Horiguchi’s highlight reel. He stuck steadfast to Shooto, eventually mounted a 5-fight win streak, and got his shot against former champ Yuta Nezu. Alas, he was KOed by another superstriker and had to wait for his shot after Nezu vacated to belt to challenge in Road FC. With beautiful submissions over Road to UFC: Japan vet Tatsuya Ando and Infiniti League finalist Ryo Okada, Ishibashi finds himself at the peak of his career.
Sato is nearing 50 fights in his pro-MMA career, having repped Pancrase in the beginning, then Sengoku, Road FC and finally transitioning through VTJ to Shooto. He’s fought the rankers in Japan and Korea with wins over Ryo Saito, Nam-Jin Jo, Taiki Tuschiya, and Kazuma Sone – which determined his title challenge – yet he’s dropped decisions in tough situations and come up short against hot prospects, such as Akitoshi Tamura, Kyung-Ho Kang, and both current Road FC bantamweight title challengers Soo-Chul Kim and Min-Woo Kim.
Both guys are most comfortable on the ground, with Sato owning the edge in the stand up. Given these guys’ previous performances, the winner is anyone’s guess.
Three other fights that are definitely ones to eyeball: former King of Pancrase Kiyotaka Shimizu vs Hiroshi Osato, former King of Pancrase Manabu Inoue vs Taku Kajikawa, and two undefeated next generation flyweight fighters Takumi Tamaru vs Hayato Ishii.
Per the FightPass schedule, looks like Shooto will NOT be live today.
PRIMAL FC 1 3/24
Paradise Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Mike Swick’s new project debuts with a bunch of fighters from the massive Thailand training scene. At the top of the card is a special rules catchweight match between Strikeforce, Invicta and Bellator veteran Sarah D’Alelio versus Muay Thai standout Nong Kim. They will wear MMA gloves, striking and takedowns allowed, but no ground fighting. Check out the full review on The Fight Nation.
The fight will be aired live on Mike Swick’s website for free at 5:30 pm Thai ST.
PXC 56 3/25
UOG Calvo Fieldhouse, Guam
What was to be a double-title affair has sadly taken a hit as bantamweight champion Trevin Jones was sent to hospital for weight-cut complications, leaving Stephen Loman alone at the altar. The vacant Lightweight Championship is still a go: JJ Ambrose will face last minute stand-in Takahiro Ashida, the third change in a week. The show must go on! Check out the full review on The Fight Nation.
The fight might be live or slight delay on the PXC website at 7:30pm Guam ST.
INVICTA FC 22 3/25
Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Invicta atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki will move back to strawweight to take on Livia Renata Souza. Hamasaki is unbeaten in three years, with her sole career loss as a last moment KO at the hands of Claudia Gadelha. The former Jewels title holder has repeatedly shown off her judo, wrestling, and striking skills to become one of the best female mixed martial artists of all time.
Gadelha, as the former strawweight champ who recently lost her belt to Angela Hill, will make an excellent test for Hamasaki. Gadelha’s grappling game is high level, so with 7 out of 9 wins being submissions, Hamasaki huggers will likely get to see her AACC grappling in action.
The fight will be live on FightPass at 8:00 pm EST.
DEEP SAITAMA IMPACT 3/25
Koedo, Saitama, Japan
There’s a DEEP card in Saitama at Koedo on Sunday, which features lots of local young starters. It won’t be live broadcast, but check out the Tapology page and keep an eye on the names. “Vicious Lee” could be the next big deal.