It looks like fears that the UFC's designs on Japanese expansion effectively ended with the release of Yushin Okami were greatly overstated. Zuffa has gone on a tear this week of picking up top Japanese talent, now with their third major signing, longtime ZST (for those wondering, it's "zest") standout Shunichi Shimizu. ZST is something of a strange, "hybrid" organization formerly holding tag-team, shoot, modified grappling, and alternate rules MMA bouts, however Shimizu has long been one of their most legitimate fighting talents. MMA in Asia announced his signing Friday. No debut date or potential opponent has been announced.
At 28 years old and with a hefty 46 fights under his belt already Shimizu should enter the UFC ranks something of a finished product. At 5' 6" he has the size for bantamweight or flyweight, although I imagine he'd be better suited for the lower weight class as he probably doesn't cut as much weight as many of the current UFC 135ers. Looking over his record (a decent 28-8-10) he'll enter the UFC on a five fight win streak. His only recent losses are decisions to recent UFC release Motonobu Tezuka and Kohei Kuraoka. He has a recent win over ZST champ Keisuke Fujiwara but his resume is otherwise short on top talent with a pair of victories in Sengoku over Manabu Inoue and Wataru Takahashi probably representing his other highlights. It should be noted that 6 of his 10 draws came in his first 8 fights.
Shimizu fights out of the little known (at least stateside) Uruno Dojo of which he is certainly the biggest name fighter. While has a few TKOs/KOs to his resume he's largely a submission fighter, with 19 of his 28 wins coming by way of tapout. Watching him fight I have serious concerns about his style in the UFC, like many Japanese fighters he seems to fight at a very relaxed pace from distance choosing to throw select, dynamic strikes rather than creating consistent offense. He has a propensity for attempting flying submissions and putting himself in bad positions because of them, but he is very active from his back in working for sweeps and submissions and once he has top control he's essentially a submission hunting limpet. He will go for armbars and leg locks at will. He has a decent low single and he ankle picks with surprising speed, so he's not without a takedown game. Eventually however, in the UFC's bantamweight division, and especially at flyweight, he may have a lot of trouble making that style work.
Here's a link to highlights from his most recent fight at Pancrase 247 and a full video of another of his recent fights, just to get us acquainted:
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