New Japan Kickboxing Federation held the third installment of its Kick to the Future series, headlined by Tetsuya Yamato challenging for Seiji Takahashi's WBC Japan Super Lightweight title and a chance to face WBC International Super Lightweight champion Kevin Ross. Also on the card were former Krush 70kg champ Kenta and the continuation of the New Japan Wars 2012 series.
In the main event, Tetsuya Yamato stopped Seiji Takahashi at 1:29 in the 2nd round to win the WBC Japan Super Lightweight title and earn a shot at Kevin Ross, but not without some controversy. Yamato was controlling the fight and hurt Takahashi, sending him back into the corner where Yamato dropped him with elbows and punches, causing Takahashi to lean down against the ring post and before the referee was able to come in, Yamato landed a kick to his downed opponent, somewhat like Badr Hari's incident against Remy Bonjasky at the 2008 K-1 WGP Finals, but not as blatant. When the referee separated them, Takahashi was given time to recover, but was unable to do so and Yamato was handed the win on the grounds that his initial knockdown was legitimate. It's a bizarre ending, but Yamato (28-9-1, 22 KO) now moves on to face Kevin Ross for the WBC International Super Lightweight title on September 22nd in Tokyo. Yamato has put together a very solid 2012 with wins over Densiam Lookprabaht, Sergio Wielzen and now Takahashi, though he has been unable to finish out his past two years strong, with losses to Ryuji Kajiwara and Jomthong at the end of last year and a loss to Koya Urabe and a disappointing draw against MMA fighter "Wicky" Akiyo Nishiura in 2010. A win over Ross would keep Yamato's momentum strong and give some consistency to an inconsistent career. Takahashi (11-7-0, 6 KO) was game in the first round, but was unable to do much against the tough Yamato. Since he won the NJKF Super Lightweight title, I'd imagine his next fight would be whoever comes out on top of the New Japan Wars at Super Lightweight.
In the co-main event, former Krush 70kg champ Kenta returned to the win column with a 2nd round knockout of Shu Kiire at 1:48. Kenta controlled the entirety of the fight, causing Kiire's corner to throw in the towel in the 2nd round after a down. Kenta (24-10-3, 9 KO) came into the fight on a 3-fight losing streak, with a questionable loss to Yuya Yamamoto at last year's K-1 MAX Japan Tournament, an upset against TOMOYUKI at Kick to the Future 1 and then being KO'd by Yasuhiro Kido in the first defense of his Krush title. This is a much needed win for the exciting, talented fighter who was on fire last year. It does not seem like there was a moment in the fight he didn't control.
NJKF also held 5 fights in its New Japan Wars 2012 series, a tournament stretched across 2012 at each weight class to determine challengers for their current champions. In the first Super Featherweight semifinal, #1 ranked KEI took a majority decision over #4 ranked Nobuhiro Iwai who, after going 0-6-1 in his last 7, made it seem as though he was headed for retirement. In the other semifinal, #2 ranked Shoya Suzuki took a unanimous decision over #5 ranked Takeshi Tsuruya. In a Super Lightweight fight, #4 ranked Kazushige Sugama upset #1 ranked and former NJKF Lightweight champ Ikki by unanimous decision and denying Ikki a rematch against current champ Seiji Takahashi. In a Featherweight semifinal, #3 ranked Ayumu Sasara stopped #6 ranked Daiki in the 3rd round. And finally, in a 1st round Welterweight fight, #8 ranked Tae-yong stopped #9 ranked Masashi Aseishi in the 2nd round.
Quick results after the break
WBC Japan Super Lightweight Title Fight: Tetsuya Yamato def. Seiji Takahashi (c) by 2nd round TKO at 1:29 to win the WBC Japan Super Lightweight Title
67.5kg Fight: Kenta def. Shu Kiire by 2nd round TKO (towel) at 1:48
New Japan Wars Super Featherweight Semifinal: KEI def. Nobuhiro Iwai by 3rd round Majority Decision (30-30, 30-29, 30-28)
New Japan Wars Super Lightweight Fight: Kazushige Sugama def. Ikki by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-28, 30-28)
63kg Fight: Xiang Senchaigym def. Marimo by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27)
56kg Fight: Hiroya Haga def. Hiroshi Senchaigym by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-28, 30-28, 30-28)
New Japan Wars Super Featherweight Semifinal: Shoya Suzuki def. Takeshi Tsuruya by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-28, 30-28)
New Japan Wars Featherweight Semifinal: Ayumu Sasara def. Daiki by 3rd round TKO (referee stoppage) at 2:36
New Japan Wars Welterweight Fight: Tae-yong def. Masashi Aseishi by 2nd round TKO at 1:26