Graphic: Inoki Genome Federation
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic retained his Inoki Genome Federation title and closed out the year in thrilling fashion on New Year’s Eve in Japan, stopping Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii after two rounds.
The heavyweights met Wednesday at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan in the main event of “Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014,” a rematch of the Aug. 23 encounter which saw Filipovic take Ishii’s title via second-round doctor stoppage.
Ishii came to the return bout armed with a sound game plan, one which the judoka implemented well in the opening round through the use of clinches, takedowns and elbows on the ground. Filipovic was put on his back again in the second frame, but once the 40-year-old Croatian striker kicked Ishii away and scrambled to his feet, he marched forward with renewed confidence.
Cro Cop picked at Ishii with jabs and single shots, narrowly missing the mark with a few left high kicks. With seconds to go in round two, Filipovic found the mark with his signature strike, his left shin grazing Ishii’s temple and putting the younger man on rubber legs. A barrage of left hands sent Ishii to the canvas just before the bell, bleeding profusely. Ishii’s corner attempted to get their fighter back to his stool, but when he remained on the ground in a daze, referee Ryogaku Wada called an end to the contest.
Filipovic was not the only fighter to score an impressive finish, as lightweight Shinya Aoki added the elusive twister to his list of submission accomplishments.
Matched against the relatively inexperienced Yuki Yamamoto, Aoki walked through an early knee to the jaw in order to shoot for a takedown. The “Tobikan Judan” pulled Yamamoto to the mat and took his back in the same motion, hitting the ground with one hook attached. Instead of looking to secure the other hook and work for a rear-naked choke, Aoki applied a neck crank and forced Yamamoto to tap to the twister after just 81 seconds. Yamamoto appeared to take offense at some post-fight taunting from Aoki and followed the One FC champion around the ring before being restrained by his corner.
A pair of American super-heavyweights finished their years with wins, as “Huggy Bear” Chris Barnett stopped Shinichi Suzukawa with punches from back mount at 1:57 of round one, and American Kickboxing Academy’s Justin Willis blasted Yusuke Kawaguchi with thunderous right hands in 43 seconds.
In a lightweight bout marred by myriad stand-ups and separations from impatient referee Naoyuki Taira, Russian prospect Ramazan Esenbaev earned a two-round majority decision against Japanese veteran Kiuma Kunioku.
Yusuke Masuda took a pair of questionable split decisions over Ryo Sakai and Takaaki Oban to win IGF’s one-night, four-man “Road to Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2014” heavyweight tournament. Shuji Morikawa defeated Katsuyoshi Sasaki by unanimous decision in the tournament’s reserve match.