Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Magic of the Nippon Top Team

It's late and I can't sleep, so I've been watching fighter highlights. It doesn't usually help, but it does keep me entertained for a while. Tonight, I'm sharing with you the Nippon Top Team, a superhero group of three elite Japanese submission artists in MMA.

First is Satoru Kitaoka, former Sengoku Lightweight Champion.

While not as popular as his teammates, don't think for a second he's not dangerous. Kitaoka beat Takanori Gomi (the last Pride 155lb. king) for SRC's first Lightweight Grand Prix, submitting Clay French and Eiji Mitsuoka to get there, then beating Kazunori Yokota in a grueling decision to face Gomi for the belt. A master of Catch Wrestling and Jiu-jitsu, his favorite subs are the Guillotine, Achilles Lock, and Heel Hook.

Now we go to the small man of the group, Masazaku Imanari.

I would say that Imanari is the most dangerous of them all, simply because of his specialty in leg-locks. He is known as "Ashikan Judan," which translates to "Master of Leg-locks." For those not in the know, by the time you can feel the pain of one of those nasty subs, it's already doing terrible damage to your joints and muscles. He's the former DEEP Featherweight Champ, and current DEEP Bantamweight and Cage Rage Featherweight Champion.

And the leader of the pack, regarded as the second greatest 155lb. fighter on the planet, Shinya Aoki.

Aoki is probably the most conventional grappler of the team, if only for the fact that he goes for armbars and triangles instead of leg-locks every other round. A master of flying armlocks and the rubber guard, he's known for having absolutely no mercy for his opponents, and has broken the arms of a few competitors already. The most recent victim was Mizuto Hirota at the SRC vs. Dream event last New Year's Eve, where he broke Hirota's shoulder with a Hammerlock. The current Shooto Middleweight, WAMMA Lightweight, and Dream Lightweight World Champion, he'll be fighting Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce 155lb. belt to add to his impressive collection.

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