Satoru Kitaoka (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

Out of Obscurity: iSMOS.1, UAE Warriors 12 and Shooto 2020 Vol. 5

Every week, Combat Press takes a look at three regional, developmental and international cards from the upcoming weekend, previewing from each a single fight to which people should pay close attention. We will also list other significant bouts from the card, as well as information on how to follow each promotion and watch the events.

Let’s discover those prospects that fight in obscurity, waiting for their shot at the bright lights and big stage of the UFC, and those veterans looking for one more chance at stardom.

It all begins here, from the small convention centers and high school gymnasiums to the developmental leagues that serve as a launching pad to the big show. It all begins with promotions such as these…


Pancraseism Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan
Event Date: July 31
Watch Event: Nico Nico Wrestling Channel (Japan)

Spotlight Fight:
Satoru Kitaoka (42-20-9) vs. Sho Kogane (17-3-1)

The newest addition to Japan’s field of MMA promotions, iSMOS is set to put on its first show this weekend. The lineup relies on veterans like Yuki Kondo and Satoru Kitaoka, the latter of whom is set to meet Sho Kogane in a lightweight bout.

Kitaoka is a grizzled veteran at this point who has over 70 pro fights under his belt. The 40-year-old, who holds black belts in judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, made his pro debut in the year 2000. He was the first Sengoku lightweight champion and has made appearances in the Pancrase, Deep, Dream and Rizin organizations. He’s clashed with a long list of notable names, and he holds victories over Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, Takanori Gomi, Katsunori Kikuno, Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Daron Cruickshank and Tatsuya Kawajiri. He’s had a rough run in the last three years, with just two wins and six losses.

Kogane, 32, made his pro debut in 2011. He spent much of his early career with Deep, but he’s also made stops in Pancrase, Road Fighting Championship, Pacific X-treme Combat and Real Fight Championship. His more recent fights have occurred under the ZST banner. After picking up four straight wins to open his career, Kogane lost two out of his next three. He’s since rebounded with a 12-1-1 run. He has won seven fights by decision and another seven via submission.

Kogane has a spectacular winning percentage through 21 fights, but a deeper dive into his resume only serves to raise some issues. His setbacks came against fighters with records of 1-0, 6-2-1, and 4-0. Meanwhile, his most significant opponents have held marks along the lines of 16-13-8, 13-10-5, 10-5-1, and 14-8-9. His two most recent victories came against the previously winless five-fight veteran Do Hyung Kown and rookie competitor Kyung Min Yang. Kogane’s strength of schedule is abysmal.

Kitaoka hasn’t exactly been tearing it up in recent years, but he’s a veteran who was once among the best lightweights in Japan. Even his recent 2-6 stretch includes the victory over Kawajiri and losses to such seasoned pros as Yusuke Yachi, Kiichi Kunimoto, Diego Brandão and Johnny Case, along with undefeated upstarts Koji Takeda and Roberto de Souza. He may be getting up there in years, but Kitaoka is still a capable fighter.

Kitaoka is most prone to knockout losses, but Kogane has rarely flashed much power. Kitaoka should be able to thwart Kogane’s ground game and reveal just how much Kogane is out of his league. This one should end in a tapout for Kitaoka, who has secured 20 of his career wins by submission.

Other key bouts: Yuki Kondo (60-36-9) vs. Binta Mochi (6-7-3)

UAE Warriors 12
Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Event Date: July 31
Twitter: @uae_warriors

Spotlight Fight:
Usman Nurmagomedov (9-0) vs. Jerry Kvarnstrom (15-14)

The 12th show from the UAE Warriors promotion received some late changes, with a scheduled heavyweight bout between Fabio Maldonado and Chi Lewis-Parry scrapped and the addition of a new lightweight foe for the undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov. Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin will now meet Jerry Kvarnstrom.

Usman’s relation to Khabib will surely do wonders for his ascent in the MMA world, but he hardly needs the help. He’s steamrolled nine opponents since making his pro debut in 2017, and only one of those fights went the distance. Thus far, Nurmagomedov has five knockout finishes and three submissions. Over his last four fights, he’s also stepped up his level of competition. His opponents in this span had combined for a 28-13 mark before locking horns with Nurmagomedov.

Kvarnstrom steps in after a fight between Nurmagomedov and Erkin Darmenov ultimately failed to materialize. The 23-year-old Darmenov appeared to be a far superior challenge for Nurmagomedov, whereas Kvarnstrom is barely above water at 15-14 and has won just one of his last five fights. The Finn actually got his career off to a strong start in 2005. He went 10-1 before his career went off the rails. He’s since managed just a 5-13 record that has included some brutal losing streaks. The 39-year-old grappler has scored 14 of his victories via submission.

This should be a showcase for Nurmagomedov, who has already made a habit of destroying the competition. Kvarnstrom is a minor threat on the ground, but Nurmagomedov’s own grappling skills, combined with his wrestling chops, should completely nullify the Finn’s chances at an upset.

Nurmagomedov won’t be afraid to take Kvarnstrom to the mat. Once there, this should be a one-sided affair in which the undefeated prospect utilizes wrestling and barrages of ground-and-pound en route to a TKO finish.

Other key bouts: Bruno Azeredo (13-9) vs. Mike Santiago (22-13) for the lightweight title, Alexandru Chitoran (4-0) vs. Do Gyeom Lee (7-3) for the featherweight title, Elias Boudegzdame (16-6) vs. Han Guk Jung (7-7-2), Atabek Abdimitalipov (2-0) vs. Izzeddine Al Derbani (9-2)

Shooto 2020 Vol. 5
Korakuen Hall in Tokyo
Event Date: Aug. 1
Twitter: @xshooto

Spotlight Fight:
Mina Kurobe (15-5) vs. Megumi Sugimoto (5-1)

Shooto gets back to business this weekend with a fight card that features a Pacific Rim lightweight title contest and a women’s super atomweight championship affair. The latter of these is sure to draw the attention of fans of women’s MMA. Mina Kurobe, a fixture for years now in the atomweight division, is set to clash with prospect Megumi Sugimoto.

The 43-year-old Kurobe got a late start to her professional MMA career. The Master Japan product, who has a background in grappling, debuted in December 2012 at the age of 35. She won her first five fights, including three by way of rear-naked choke submissions. When she stepped up to face Mei Yamaguchi, Kurobe fell on the scorecards. Her next fight, which came against Naho Sugiyama, also ended in disappointment when the scorecards were read. Kurobe regained her confidence with wins over MMA newcomers Hana and Renju Date, who had a combined 1-0 mark when they clashed with Kurobe. The Deep Jewels mainstay then stepped it up and scored significant wins over veterans Tomo Maesawa, Saori Ishioka and Sugiyama. She stumbled again when she met top atomweight Seo Hee Ham, but she’s since rebounded with a 5-2 run in which her only losses came to Ayaka Hamasaki and the aforementioned Maesawa.

Sugimoto, 30, entered the pro ranks in 2013 with a debut win over Takumi Umehara. After suffering a split-decision loss just two months later, Sugimoto retreated from the MMA circuit until 2019. Her comeback has included four victories, including three finishes. Sugimoto’s most seasoned opponent up to this point had just four fights under her belt.

Kurobe’s definitely getting up there in years, but she’s been a steady borderline top-15 atomweight for a while now. She uses grappling and ground-and-pound to score her victories. Thus far, she’s only lost to fellow top-15 talent.

Sugimoto’s comeback has been achieved on the backs of fighters with a combined 5-5 record. This includes two previously winless opponents. She tends to score her wins on the mat, too, which might make this fight an uphill battle for her. Kurobe is still quite capable of controlling the ground game and securing the submission finish, especially against an opponent like Sugimoto.

Other key bouts: Takumi Tamaru (11-1-1) vs. Tatsuya Ando (10-2-1) for the Pacific Rim bantamweight title, Hayato Ishii (15-3-1) vs. Kota Onojima (12-5-1), Ryohei Kurosawa (12-2) vs. Takamasa Kiuchi (15-11-2)

The Best of the Rest

Rocky Warriors Cartel 5: Bez Przebaczenia: Michał Andryszak (20-8) vs. Ion Grigore (7-1)

Fight Nation Championship 3: Vaso Bakočević (40-19-1) vs. Ivica Trušček (38-35) for the Balkan BMF championship

RUF MMA 39: Sherrard Blackledge (4-0) vs. Drew Fickett (42-21)

Legacy Fighting Alliance 87: Nick Browne (9-1) vs. Ben Egli (12-3) Watch Event: UFC Fight Pass

Extreme MMA 16: Michael Morales (8-0) vs. Daniel Bastidas (2-0)

Last Week’s Scorecard
Fight Prediction Outcome
Eduard Arustamyan vs. Vladimir Fedin at BFC 57 Fedin by submission Fedin by submission
Isao Kobayashi vs. Akira Okada at Pancrase 266 Kobayashi by knockout Kobayashi by decision
Greg Fischer vs. Jimmy Flick at LFA 86 Flick by submission Flick by submission