World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report : #5 - Koichiro Matsumoto

At #5 on our 2011 World MMA Featherweight Scouting Report, DEEP Featherweight champion Koichiro Matsumoto (12-2) chimes in on our countdown as one of two Japanese featherweights breaking into our top ten. Matsumoto's speedy footwork and ranged striking skills make him one of the more elusive prospects on our countdown, but a rather pedestrian ground game threatens his chances at making a run at the elite featherweights in Japan.

Offensive Skills: Matsumoto's offense can be described easily in one word. Elusive. He generally stands outside of kicking range to give himself some space to evade any heavy kicking attacks. He combines that stance with decent footwork, normally circling his opponent while he plans quick, accurate attacks to the chin. While it may seem like the most rudimentary style of offense, it's effective. Matsumoto usually lands a quick jab before unleashing flurries of surprisingly accurate shots on his prey. Peep the SHOJI fight for some devastating combinations.

On the ground, Matsumoto can put together nice strings of aggressive ground and pound, but only when his opponent is flailing his arms in a frenzy to avoid being knocked out. He'll immediately stand up out of guard when he believes he's in danger, or stall in top control and try to maintain the position for a stand-up. It works well for him as the referees in DEEP seem to have no patience for ground tactics.

Defensive Skills: Again, Matsumoto's footwork and range are his greatest assets in defending incoming attacks. He's no Lyoto Machida, but he is speedy enough to avoid counters and evade any danger coming his way on the feet. He is susceptible to being cornered by larger, stronger fighters as Katsunori Kikuno was able to prove in their bout back in April of 2009.

Matsumoto's biggest weakness is his ground game. He doesn't have one, or should I say... he has never shown the ability to pull off slick transitions to armbars or beautiful guard passing skills. No, Matsumoto is content with sticking to guard and stalling the action. He has yet to battle a true power grappler, but I tend to think he'd be toast in that type of match-up.

Progression: There hasn't been a change in Matsumoto's style over the course of his almost four-year career in the sport. He hasn't developed a dangerous grappling game to go along with his effective striking, and he isn't a devastating ground and pound puncher. Perfectly content with peppering opponents with his superior striking, Matsumoto will need to develop if he intends to take on better competition. Will that happen? It doesn't seem likely.

Environment: Matsumoto trains out of Imada Dojo in Japan, but he's also been linked as a training parter to Michihiro Omigawa at former Japanese welterweight and middleweight boxing ace Toshiharu Kayama's K's Box gym.

Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
#5 - Koichiro Matsumoto
#6 - Tom Niinimaki
#7 - Marcos Vinicius
#8 - Matt Fiordirosa
#9 - Isaac DeJesus
#10 - Michel Gagnon
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray

Middleweight Light Heavyweight
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie
#1 - Marcos Pezao
#2 - Gian Villante
#3 - Jimi Manuwa
#4 - Glover Teixeira
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Scouting_report_medium

Potential: I'll be perfectly honest with our readers. Matsumoto wouldn't stand a chance against anyone with a decent wrestling background and a granite chin. In fact, I'm questioning my own determination that he should be ranked as high as #5 at this point in the report. A guy like Fiordirosa or Niinimaki could destroy Matsumoto, but I do feel that his striking could be a huge advantage for him, especially with the way he puts distance between himself and his opponent. Ranking him as high as #5 is a stretch in my mind, but I do feel he has the wins and effectiveness to garner some respect on our list.

As with any Japanese fighter, one has to question where Matsumoto goes after winning the DEEP featherweight title, and a rematch with Otsuka may be in order as the judgment was a bit controversial. Furthermore, the challenges he would face on the ground against better competition would plummet his stock in my opinion.

He's certainly an entertaining fighter to watch, but I'm not high on Matsumoto ever making a real impact in the upper-echelon of the Japanese featherweight division.

Video:

Koichiro Matsumoto vs. Jutaro Nakao
Koichiro Matsumoto vs. Ryan Bow - pt 1., pt 2
Yoshihiro Tomioka vs. Koichiro Matsumoto

Koichiro Matsumoto vs Seigo Inoue

Katsunori Kikuno vs. Koichiro Matsumoto

Koichiro Matsumoto vs. SHOJI

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