March was a huge month for Japanese kickboxing, with two Rajadamnern Stadium title fights, the Road to Glory 65kg tournament and big cards from RISE and Krush. This post will recap all of March's kickboxing and muay thai action from the past month.
March 3rd: Krush Ignition 2013 vol.1 and 2
Krush's series of smaller shows, previously known as Krush-EX, kicked off in March with a day-night double header. The main event only lasted 2:19, but was a wild affair with 2012 Youth GP semifinalist Daizo Sasaki knocking down prospect Minoru Kimura. However it was Kimura who came out on top, dropping Sasaki 3 times en route to a stoppage and giving him his third straight stoppage win after a pair of losses, which seem to have reenergized him. The co-main event saw Masanobu Goto rebound from a loss to Keiji Ozaki with a 1st round KO of Atsushi Ogata, who has proved to be little more than a punching bag since an upset win over Toshiki Taniyama. Ryuma Tobe returned to action after a 10 month layoff, knocking out Hiroshi Kamata in the 3rd round.
While the main event was an MMA fight, the main kickboxing attraction saw Legend 63kg champion Kouki Nakamura stop Masataka Maeda in the 1st round. Nakamura has fought on Big Bang cards before, losing to Koya Urabe and Naoki, and could find himself in Krush or RISE if he continues to dominate lower level competition.
March 10th: Road to GLORY Japan -65kg SLAM
The most stacked weekend of the month was headlined by GLORY's first Road to GLORY Japan event. The quarterfinals saw Zen Fujita stop Riki Matsuoka, Yuki beat Mohan Dragon, Masaaki Noiri get by HIROYA for a 3rd time and Yukihiro Komiya score an upset over Ryuji Kajiwara in a brawl. The semifinals saw Yuki use his signature low kicks to stop Zen Fujita while Noiri got by Komiya. In the finals, Noiri turned it on and dropped Yuki six times over the course of two rounds, ultimately stopping him with a brutal knockout and earning himself a spot in GLORY's 65kg world tournament in May. The event also featured a big superfight between Krush champ Hirotaka Urabe and WPMF champ SHIGERU in what was one of the best fights of the night. After three even rounds, Urabe opened up a nasty cut over SHIGERU's eye with a flying knee in the extension round, forcing a doctor stoppage. Full recap here.
SNKA: Magnum 31
This event featured two Rajadamnern Stadium title fights as Hiroki Ishii defended his 140lb title while Bantamweight champ Manasak Pinsinchai defended his strap against Mutsuki Ebata. Despite facing his second straight undersized opponent, Ishii was dropped in the 2nd round by an elbow and, despite recovering, finished in the 4th round by Aikpikart Mor Krongthepthonburi, who claimed Ishii's Raja title. In the co-main event, Manasak dominated Ebata in every aspect of the fight for the first four rounds and fended off a strong charge from Ebata in the final round, defending his title on foreign soil for the first time. Also on the card was 2010 K-1 Koshien champ Shohei Hareyama bouncing back from a loss to Shota Saenchaigym with a with a unanimous decision over Haruki. NJKF Welterweight Taeyeon was also on the card and despite impressing over the past year, he was knocked out in the 1st round by Shota Otsuki.
REALDEAL Gym's 32nd event was headlined by a rematch between one of their top prospects and RISING Rookies Cup 70kg winner Ryota Toyoshima and Akio Kishima. Toyoshima won their first bout, but this fight couldn't have ended differently as Kishima landed with a big head kick in the 1st round that put Toyoshima to sleep.
The main event saw the popular TOMONORI defeat WAKO Korea Flyweight champion Gan Byon-ju by decision, dropping him once in the fight. Also on the card was NJKF and Krush vet Shoya Suzuki who picked up a win over Yoshiyuki Nagayama.
Recap of the second half of the month after the break.
March 17th: RISE 92
RISE 92 featured 3 title fights, a fight between two former It's Showtime champions and a rematch of the 2012 Fight of the Year. The first title fight was a rematch between 65kg champ Koji Yoshimoto and #1 contender Yasuomi Soda. After a close loss in his first attempt, Soda came out on top with a majority decision, earning himself the RISE 65kg title. Unfortunately, neither of these fighters will take part in GLORY's 65kg tournament. In a fight for the inaugural RISE 90kg title, former Heavyweight champ Makoto Uehara won a split decision thanks to a point deduction to Kengo Shimizu for clinching. Without the deduction, the fight would've ended as a split draw and gone to an extension round. Due to the close decision and a lack of contenders at 90kg, I wouldn't be surprised if these two fought again in the near future. Dyki and Seiya Rokukawa faced off for the vacant 55kg title and despite falling victim to a 1st round knockdown, Dyki proved he is RISE's best 55kg fighter in the post-KENJI era, winning a close decision in an action packed fight. I give a lot of credit to DEEP*KICK champ Rokukawa who I didn't think would pose much of a challenge to Dyki. In a 61kg bout, the last It's Showtime 61kg champion, Masahiro Yamamoto, took on former IS 61kg champ Karim Bennoui. After an even 3 rounds, Yamamoto pulled away in the extension round, earning a unanimous decision. In a rematch of 2012's Fight of the Year, Genji Umeno exacted revenge against Chang-hyun Lee, dominating the fight and winning a unanimous decision. Full recap here.
MA Kick ~Break 35~
The main event pitted MA Kick #1 Featherweight Minoru Junibayashi against #2 RYOTA with a shot at champion Hiroki Akimoto likely on the line. Surprisingly, RYOTA controlled the fight and didn't drop a single round against former champ Junibayashi. While I think he has little chance against Akimoto if they ever fight, RYOTA put on a very impressive performance here.
NJKF 2013 2nd
This was a rather lackluster card from NJKF, but the main event saw #3 Welterweight DAI pick up a decision over Thailand's Petonarin Sor Superbon.
King of Strikers Round 11
The main event saw King of Strikers Bantamweight champ Takeshi Ono defend his title against Krush veteran Chiharu Manda with a 1st round knockout. This puts Ono's name on the map at Bantamweight.
March 20th: Krush.27
The main event saw 63kg champ Thomas Adamandopoulos attempt to make the first defense of his title, but come up short against Hideaki Yamazaki, who dropped the champ with a spinning backfist in the 2nd round en route to a unanimous decision. This was a big upset as Yamazaki was coming off of a knockout loss to Gagny Baradji at Krush.25. In the 58kg tournament semifinals, favorites Nobuchika Terado and Takeru advanced to the finals with wins over Shota Kobe and Yuzo Suzuki, respectively. Fan favorite Yuji Takeuchi stopped Shohei Hayashi in the 1st round while Yutaro Yamauchi knocked out Hiroki Nakajima in the 2nd. In a strange affair, Koya Urabe rematched Fumiya Osawa at 60kg, with Osawa dropping Urabe early as he came in for a flying knee. After managing to get back up, but still dazed, Urabe dropped Osawa with a left hook after the ref ordered a break from a clinch. The shot was ruled illegal and Osawa, who was more or less knocked out himself, was declared the winner by disqualification. 55kg prospects Keisuke Miyamoto and Masahiro squared off, with Miyamoto edging out a decision. 63kg prospect Hisaki Higashimoto started strong, but was stopped by former NJKF champ Ikki in the 3rd round. The event also hosted the 2nd leg of the 55kg WILDRUSH League, with favorite Takumi improving to 2-0 and moving up to 1st place. Full recap here.
March 24th: M-FIGHT Suk WEERASAKRECK 1
M-1 Muay Thai put on their first event under a new name, headlined by a 5-fight Japan vs Thailand series, also featuring a WPMF Japan Women's Flyweight title fight and the opening round of a 4-man tournament to determine the next WPMF Japan Super Lightweight champion. The headlining bout saw a smaller Kaew Fairtex face off against Daiki Watabe with the Japan vs Thailand series tied at 2-2. Watabe had his moments, but Kaew controlled most of the fight and picked up his 4th straight win in Japan. In the co-main event, the streaking Yosuke Mizuochi improved to 11-1 since 2011 with a decision over Debbanchon Fairtex, scoring a knockdown in the 3rd round. Japan's other win on the night came as Sota Ichinohe knocked out Paranam Lemtongapetch. Despite fighting just a month earlier with a decisive result, Kanongsuk WSR rematched Hidekazu Tanaka with Kanongsuk winning again, this time via doctor stoppage due to a broken nose that was bleeding profusely. The first Japan vs Thailand bout saw Kongnapa WSR pick up his second win in Japan, stopping Shingen Endo in the 3rd round with a body kick. In a fight for the WPMF Japan Women's Flyweight title, champion Tomoko SP was unable to defend her title, losing a unanimous decision to Aki Gracyer. At Welterweight, J-Network champ Masato Otake picked up a win over APKF's Kouki. In the semifinals of the 4-man Super Lightweight tournament, Shunsuke Oishi and Hiroyuki Norose advanced with wins over Takeshi Kato and Shinji Suzuki, respectively.
J-NETWORK: J-FIGHT and J-GIRLS 2013 1st
The headlining bout saw former Super Bantamweight Interim champ Hidemaru defeat 4th ranked Satokichi to claim the vacant J-Network Super Bantamweight title. Also on the card was the last two quarterfinals of a tournament to decide Tomoko SP's next challenger for the J-GIRLS Flyweight title, or for the vacant title if Tomoko vacated it. Yoko Odamaki upset top ranked Yaoyi Sanchez while Kumi Nanba advanced over Nana Kusakabe despite not fighting, though I'm not exactly sure why the two didn't fight; my assumption would be an injury or illness. In the semifinals, Odamaki faces Rena Matsuda while Nanba faces Itsuka; Matsuda and Itsuka won their quarterfinal fights back in February.
This card lacked the star power of previous K-SPIRIT cards, but the main event saw Yuichi Miyagi claim the vacant RKA Lightweight title with a win over Motofumi Fujii.