X-1 49: Suguru Nii Wins 3 Fights in 1 Night, Prospects Cheyden Leialoha and Zane Kamaka Score Finishes in Honolulu
Honolulu, Hawaii – The spirit of UFC 1 lived on this past weekend at X-1 World Events 49, where eight lightweight contenders battled in a one-night tournament to crown a new promotional champion. The tourney, which included four Japanese fighters and four Hawaiian fighters, saw Pancrase regular Suguru Nii (11-8) take home the crown with a first round kimura victory over late replacement dark horse Kaeo Meyers (3-3). Nii’s championship-sealing finish came when he sunk in the kimura while his opponent attempted a slam – the exact same way that he won his opening-round bout three hours earlier!
You can relive all of the action from Honolulu courtesy of Fite.tv, and read on for more results from the X-1 49 Lightweight Grand Prix plus strong performances from prospects Cheyden Leialoha and Zane Kamaka.
X-1 49 Bantamweight Feature: Cheyden Leialoha (7-1) Sub1-RNC Yuto Sekiguchi (7-4-6)
The last time fight fans saw Cheyden Leialoha in action, the Gracie Technics trainee slugged it out in the Dana White Contenders’ Series cage in a 15 minute bout with John Castenada but came up short on the judges’ scorecards. Leialoha’s 20 year old opponent Yuto Sekiguchi showed plenty of flash, starting with his firey weigh-in theatrics and continuing with a series of snappy capoeira kicks when the bell rang. But once the fight got real, Leialoha took the Japanese fighter to the mat and beat him down near the cage. The Hawaiian advanced to mount, then when Sekiguchi gave up his back Leialoha wrapped up the RNC for his fourth career submission win. Solid work from the 24 year old prospect, who picked up the most notable win yet in his young career – though it bears noting that Leialoha did miss weight by 3.5 pounds for this bantamweight contest.
X-1 49 Welterweight Feature: Zane Kamaka (12-3) TKO1-Broken Arm Mike Bronzoulis (18-10-1)
The “Waianese Bad Boy” Zane Kamaka has been close to the UFC on two occasions, first in 2012 when he fell short of entry into the TUF 16 house and second in 2014 when he saw a 3-fight win streak snapped by current UFC talent Belal Muhammed. Kamaka may have finally put together the win streak that he needs for a big show callup when he overpowered 39 year old Bellator vet Mike Bronzoulis in this contest. Kamaka smashed “The Greek Assassin” with wicked kicks, elbows, and ground strikes in round one. One of those nasty kicks broke Bronzoulis’ forearm, which forced the doctor to wave off the contest in round one. Very impressive work from the Gracie Technics talent, who continues to improve at 28 and now owns three straight wins over respectable veterans.
X-1 49 Lightweight Grand Prix Full Results
Quarterfinal 1: Kaeo Meyers (2-2) UD3 Taison Naito (8-6-1)
The X-1 lightweight Grand Prix tournament kicked off with an upset as Hawaii’s Kaeo Meyers used his grappling advantage to sweep the three round decision from Taison Naito. Meyers, who served as a late replacement for TUF alum Johnavan Vistante, added in some strong punches including a leaping left hook that dropped Naito near the end of round 2.
Quarterfinal 2: Michael Brightmon (16-9) SD3 Komei Kimura (3-5)
BAMMA and ACB vet Michael Brightmon did well to keep Komei Kimura on the mat for the first few minutes, but the Shooto regular proved to be a tough man to pin down during the second half of this contest. When it was on the feet, Kimura damaged Brightmon with liver kicks and head shots. The judges narrowly favored the 33 year old Brightmon’s positional control over Kimura’s striking as the American advanced to round two via split nod.
Quarterfinal 3: Suguru Nii (9-8) Sub1-Kimura Jonah Estrella (1-1)
In his second pro contest, Estrella scored an impressive over-the-shoulder slam early in the bout. Unfortunately for Estrella, seven-fight Pancrase competitor Nii locked on a kimura during the takedown and rolled to top psoition. Estrella briefly rolled back to the top, but one more roll was all it took for the Japanese veteran to elicit the early first round tap. Very smooth submission for Nii, who entered the semifinal round unscathed.
Quarterfinal 4: Keiji Sakuta (15-12) Sub1-Guillotine Titus Strickland (0-1)
The second short notice replacement in the tourney field, Strickland didn’t fare nearly as well as fellow alternate Kaeo Meyers in the first bout against recent Angel’s Fighting title challenger Keiji Sakuta. Sakuta clipped the rookie immediately with a punch, then promptly snared a guillotine choke that put Strickland out cold in seconds!
Semifinal 1: Kaeo Meyers (3-2) UD3 Michael Brightmon (17-10)
The rookie Meyers pulled a big upset to reach the finals as he took out the accomplished veteran Brightmon. Brightmon started well, taking down Meyers and holding back mount for much of round 1. Meyers survived Brightmon’s RNC tries, and by the end of the first he was smashing Brightmon with powerful knees and punches. Meyers’ onslaught continued in rounds 2 and 3, and he nearly had the fight finished in the third when he dropped the vet with a knee to the sternum. Brightmon barely survived the onslaught of followup ground-and-pound and saw the final bell. Nonetheless, this was another composed and classy performance from the previously unknown Kaeo Meyers against a vastly more experienced and established adversary.
Semifinal 2: Suguru Nii (10-8) SD3 Keiji Sakuta (15-13)
These two quick quarterfinal finshers put in a full three rounds of work on the feet in the second semifinal. Both men traded inside the pocket regularly, with both landing solid but unspectacular shots. This was a pick ’em fight when it went to the judges, who favored Suguru Nii’s boxing over Keiji Sakuta’s mix of punches and kicks.
X-1 49 Pro Undercard Results:
Bantamweight: Bill Takeuchi (5-1) entered this bout riding a wave of local hype, but he ran into an unexpected momentum breaker in the form of stocky brawler Rodney Mondala (3-1). Most of this fight took place on the feet, where Mondala worked to get inside of Takeuchi’s reach advantage. When they weren’t striking, the fighters were pummeling for underhooks against the cage, but neither could establish any significant ground control. After three close rounds, the underdog Mondala walked away with the hard fought unanimous decision victory.
Flyweight: Hilo’s Russell “The Muscle” Mizuguchi (4-0) showed off 10 minutes of strong takedowns and grappling control en route to a clearcut victory over Shojin Miki (4-2). The lanky, 5’9″ flyweight Miki scored well with hands in round 3 as Mizuguchi gassed, but the undefeated Boss MMA rep avoided the kill shot and walked away with the clear 2 rounds to 1 unanimous decision. Mizuguchi has now won 12 straight fights dating back to the start of his amateur career in 2011.
Flyweight: Team Alpha Male’s Mike “Baby Godzilla” Nakagawa (5-3) pressured debuting Hawaiian Dominick Abalos (0-1) relentlessly on the feet before taking the fight to the ground and bullying the academic RNC in round 1.
Light Heavyweight: US military serviceman Marcus Gamble (1-0) slugged his way to a one-sided unanimous decision over Chicago’s Matt “Thor” Kristufek (2-1).
Amateur Flyweight: Joey Von Blakenburg grappled his way to unanimous decision over Jeremiah Young.