Established overseas promoter Sustain revivified the Vale Tudo Japan banner of mid-90's infamy for a restructured event on Christmas Eve in Tokyo, Japan. In place of the ringed fighting environment and largely unfettered rule set of the promotion's past were contemporary elements like a steel cage and the enforcement of the unified rules.
Beloved combatants whose reputation and spirit outshine their worldwide competitiveness adorned the headliner, as bantamweight countrymen Hideo Tokoro, a consummate crowd pleaser, and old school legend Rumina Sato faced off in the main event. Four former UFC fighters saw action on the card: recently released Carlo Prater was matched with Kuniyoshi Hironaka, who pegged a 1-3 stint in the Octagon in 2006-2008, while Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight kingpin Ian Loveland, who dropped respectable decisions to Joseph Benavidez and Yves Jabouin (but balanced the scales with a pair of 1st-round TKOs since) drew rising Shooto prospect Kyoji Horiguchi, and Keita Nakamura, who hails from the renowned Wajutsu Keishukai gym and posted a winless trio of outings in the UFC, was paired with then (but no longer) unbeaten Nobutatsu Suzuki.
The understated gem of the card pitted the best flyweights yet beyond the UFC's grasp, as cunning Shooto and Tachi Palace Fights rep Mamoru Yamaguchi and his "Illest Afro in Asia" collided with fellow TPF and top-ranked standout Darrell Montague. Female veteran Megumi Fujii, whose duo of lone career losses transpired in Bellator, also graced the card against Mei Yamaguchi.
The pre-Christmas show saw airtime in Japan on SkyPerfect TV but stateside availability was scarce, and footage of the show has yet to surface. Therefore, the following results will be culled entirely from the fervent efforts of the folks over at Sherdog.com.
But, first -- the shocker of the evening was turned in by 2010 Shooto Rookie MVP and Bloody Elbow's 8th-ranked Scouting Report prospect in 2012, Kyoji Horiguchi, who blitzed Ian Loveland with strikes in the opening stanza for a near finish. Loveland held on and recovered, even gained ground by winning the 3rd round, but it was not enough to overcome Horiguchi's 1st-round devastation. The following is Sherdog.com's take on the 1st round from their live results and play by play:
Horiguchi sticks to the outside, picking at Loveland with low kicks. Loveland misses a head kick, and Horiguchi counters with a big punch, but Loveland evades and puts Horiguchi against the fence. The Japanese fighter works his way out and begins working the low kicks again. One of them grazes Loveland's groin, and Loveland motions for him to watch out. Horiguchi closes in for the attack, but Loveland collars him with the Thai clinch and shucks him to all fours on the canvas. He allows Horiguchi to get back to his feet where both men continue to pick at each other with single punches and low kicks. Horiguchi lands a thunderous right hook that sends the Tachi Palace Fights champ down in a spin. Horiguchi lands some ground and pound, but Loveland quickly recovers under fire and gets to his feet before referee Kenichi Serizawa can move in for the stoppage. Horiguchi takes Loveland down and lands some more punches, but Loveland has shaken most of the cobwebs out it seems. The American gets back to his feet, but he looks a tad shaky as Horiguchi continues to assail him with punches that leave him looking wobbled. The horn sounds soon after. Sherdog.com scores the round 10-8 Horiguchi.
The judging triumvirate ultimately notched scores of 29-28 for Horiguchi, who drastically authenticates his status with an A-level victory. Loveland, aka "The Barn Owl," was given no lenience in his UFC tenure, debuting against elite bantam/flyweight Benavidez (unanimous decision) and then battling tooth and nail with Yves Jabouin in his sophomore effort; a split decision that could've gone either way. Big things will now be expected of Horiguchi, a product of Norifumi Yamamoto's Krazy Bee gym and a surging talent at just 22 years of age.
- Hideo Tokoro def. Rumina Sato via TKO (Punches and Elbows) at 0:39 of Rd 1
- Kuniyoshi Hironaka def. Carlo Prater via Decision (Unanimous)
- Darrell Montague def. Mamoru Yamaguchi via Decision (Split)
- Kyoji Horiguchi def. Ian Loveland via Decision (Unanimous)
- Megumi Fujii def. Mei Yamaguchi via Decision (Unanimous)
- Kenji Osawa def. Takeshi Inoue via Decision (Unanimous)
- Keita Nakamura def. Nobutatsu Suzuki via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:09 of RD 1
- Daisuke Hoshino def. Kuntap Weerasakreck via Submission (Armbar)
(Intro penned by Dallas Winston.)