MW division - disappointing

In the late 90's/early 2000's, Shooto's MW division was exciting. They had 3 Japanese stars, including Mach, Nakao, and Kato, and a host of rotating foreigners, including Trigg, Cook, and Cooper. But, like the UFC LHW division, it can't stay this good for long without new blood.

Mach is gone from Shooto, and his career has spiralled downward. Nakao is still a good fighter, but it looks like he could never be a top fighter again, and he may not fight in Shooto anymore either. Kato stopped fighting for a while, and has done poorly in his return. And foreign talent are rarely "Shooto fighters" (exceptions include Pequeno, Shaolin, Moura, Louro, Denes, and to a lesser extent Cooper, Hansen, and Shields), so, of course, Shooto relies on Japanese fighters to be their stars.

Some young blood began to show up...

Seichi Ikemoto: This guy had all the makings of being a star. Charismatic look, exciting style, and a ton of natural talent. But he has never improved in his entire career. It's like he never tries to improve. There is no reason why he shouldn't be a title contender, instead of becoming a gatekeeper in DEEP.

Yasuyuki Tokuoka: This is another guy who looked like a potential star. Very good wrestler, looks like a total bad ass, exciting style. Has some nasty GnP and high impact throws. After going 4-0, he gave a lackluster performance against Hironaka, then went to draws with Iwase (didn't see this fight) and Ikemoto (almost getting submitted in this fight), before jumping to Pancrase and losing a fight there. WTF happened to him?

Kuniyoshi Hironaka: Won the 2002 rookie tournament, defeated Nick Diaz, and then got injured training for a fight with Nakao. Makes his return to MMA in Lithuania a year and a half later, wins a decision, then gets injured AGAIN in a BJJ match. Guy has great skills, but just can't stay healthy.

Hirofumi Hara: This is a bit of a stretch, but he obliterated Hironaka and gave a great performance (in a losing effort) to Tokuoka. He looked like he could be a good fighter, but he's been unimpressive ever since.

The only guy with potential who has fulfilled it is Kikuchi. But he can't carry the division on his own, can he?

Now there are two more guys at middleweight who could become contenders. K-Taro Nakamura and Shinya Aoki. I think both of them need to realize their potential for the middleweight division to stay interesting.

Well... Shields is still in the picture, and Jhun is making his move on the Shooto title picture since it has been shook up (as you illustrated).

He is fighting Iwase on Jan. 22nd

Ryan G,

I wouldn't write off Nakao just yet. He has some good fights in him left -- he won the Deep MW GP.

Unfortuntely, Nakao can be too technical at times, which equals boring to watch for the average fans. He's tough as hell and a great fighter, but I wish he was a bit more exciting. I've personally felt his triangle a few hundred times while sparring and I can testify that it's tight. If your lucky or fast enough to avoid it before he slaps it on, you have a chance. If not --- tap tap tap or lights out.

It's really unfortuante that Nakao didn't get to fight more actively in Shooto. I remember when he didn't have any fights for like 6-9 months. Pretty sad for someone that is ranked constantly in the top 10 of his weight class in Shooto.


For Nakao to send both Miletich and LaVerne Clark to dream-land, is pretty impressive. I also feel that Nakao is a game fighter and a threat to anyone...

Unfortunately, as you said, he does not get alot of opportunities... His performance in Deep is impressive.

Nakao kicked some ass in the Deep tourney,and his fights were exciting.

Don't get wrong. I'm not saying Nakao isn't exciting or a good fighter. I think Nakao is a great fighter! BUT I think to the average fan he can be boring to watch at times. (At the UFC against Tony DeSousa (SP?)they were being booed until Nakao got the KO.)

I'll be interested to see how he does, when he finally fights in Bushido.

I haven't trained with him in a long time. He's now freelance and no longer with Shooting Gym Osaka. I know he trains with Mishima and Cobra Kai but I haven't seen him training at our gym for over 6 months or so. Since he's freelance he can train anywhere.


I know,Im just saying it seems like he has been trying to be more exciting so he can get a shot in Bushido.

Wow. Who runs STG Osaka now?

Nakao has had some really exciting fights, but he's kinda like the grappling version of Rizzo. Unreal talent, but too passive. Regardless, I'm always interested when Nakao fights because he is just so damn good. I also find it interesting that every single one of his wins is within the distance. He has no decision wins. Even fights in which he would have won an easy decision, he pulled out crazy last minute submissions (such as the armbar on Kato in their first fight with just 4 seconds left on the clock).