Mike Grundy
Mike Grundy - Photo: Shooto/Twitter

Mike Grundy scored a big upset win over Shooto lightweight champion Yutaka Saito as he dominated all three rounds on his way to a decision victory in the Shooto: Japan main event on Sunday.

Shooto took place on Sunday, January 29 at the legendary Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan and would feature several title eliminator bouts as well as the non-title main event and was shown live on UFC Fight Pass.

Saito (12-3) aimed to bounce back after a loss to Isao Kobayashi in Vale Tudo Japan, but Wigan fighter Grundy (9-1) would spoil those plans with a relentless display of wrestling which saw the Brit take all three rounds on every judges’ scorecard.

Early in the first round, Grundy dictated the pace, but narrowly missed a flying knee before he secured the first of the many takedowns he would successfully complete during the fight. After taking some hard knees to the body and face in the clinch after Saito had got back to his feet, the Commonwealth Games 2014 wrestling bronze medallist would go back to his strengths, taking the champion down and staying on top for the rest of the round.

Sticking to the game plan, Grundy would take Saito down immediately in round two, making his Japanese opponent work hard to get to his feet before dragging him straight back down again. This would continue into the third round with Grundy slightly more active in his transitions until he eventually got into mount for the last thirty seconds of the fight, where he landed heavy ground and pound to make claim for a 10-8 round.

The judges would return with a unanimous decision for the Team Kaobon product, starting conversations of a new contract offer from Shooto, and a potential shot at the lightweight title after imposing his will over the champion with such dominance.

After winning his last five fights including bouts under the BAMMA and ICE FC banners in the UK, Grundy could choose to continue his career in Japan and capitalise on this victory or return home to try for titles domestically.

In the co-main event, Flyweight prospect Hayato Ishii (9-0) would keep his perfect record intact with a unanimous decision win over WEC and DEEP veteran Yoshiro Maeda (34-16).

In round one, a mistake by Maeda allowed Hayato to secure a standing guillotine attempt with his back against the cage, where he eventually fell to his back to try to get the finish. Hayato would not let go despite being unable to secure it any tighter and with his experienced opponent in no danger, the referee was forced to stand them up as the time dwindled out.

Momentum would swing in the opposite direction in the second round as Maeda took the back and looked for a rear-naked choke. Again a stalemate ensued as Hayato was able to fight off the submission with Maeda not willing to give up position before Hayato would secure a sweep to finish the round on top.

The third round was the most exciting of the fight as both men engaged in a grapple-fest that saw Hayato secure a deep armbar. However, a stubborn Maeda refused to tap and instead managed to helicopter out and after trading submission attempts would come close to securing a kneebar before the bell.

In a decision that could have gone either way, the judges unanimously ruled in favour of Hayato who remains undefeated after nine professional fights.

Also on the card, Yosuke Saruta (13-7-3) and Junji Sarumaru (14-7-1) would battle it out in a back-and-forth majority draw leaving no clear winner in their strawweight world title eliminator bout.

Both fighters would take turns at landing clean shots and takedowns throughout the fight, but with neither willing to up the aggression levels and abandon their hesitancy, a draw wasn’t the most surprising outcome.

In the night’s other action, Shoko Sato (27-15) would open up two large cuts on the head of Kazuma Sone (20-15) with some nasty first round elbows to force a doctor’s stoppage in their bantamweight Pacific Rim eliminator bout.