Nine fights in 20 months.
That is almost fighting once every two months.
Since he was released from UFC this is how often Motonobu Tezuka has been fighting.
During this period, he won both Grachan and HEAT bantamweight titles, and after this win over Takeshi Numajiri in Grachan 16, Tezuka is now 4-1 in last five fights, with two submissions and one TKO win.
This fight, against Numajiri, was a very good fight though.
Tezuka grabbed Numajiri's kicking leg for a take down. A veteran from team MMA Dojo Cobra-kai smoothly made a transition to the half-guard then onto the side mount. However, Numajiri bridged out, reversed the position. Tezuka escaped from the bottom then shot in but Numajiri sprawled. Numajiri displayed wrestling skills that earned him a spot in Japan's wrestling team at the Peking Olympics. But, once again, Tezuka escaped, took the top position. From there, Tezuka went for an arm-triangle then got the mount position. The first round ended there.
So, this was a close fight.
But suddenly, the fight ended in the beginning of second round.
Numajiri threw a left low kick and Tezuka defended with his right leg. In the next moment, Numajiri went down in pain, holding his right leg. The referee stepped in and it was all over.
Tezuka won via TKO due to Numajiri's leg injury.
Not a clean win for Tezuka but like he said after the fight, "Win is a win" and now he improved his pro MMA record to 24-9-5.
After he was released from UFC, Tezuka did go back to Pancrase once and won. However, instead of going for a title in Pancrase, Tezuka signed with VTJ (Vale Tudo Japan) and took a loss against a Japanese veteran named Yuta Nezu. Then he signed with Road FC in Korea and fought Soo Chul Kim yet didn't last two minutes. He got KO'd with Kim's barrage of punches. It wasn't even close.
These two losses must have been a big blow to Tezuka. These two losses basically shattered his hope of getting back to the UFC.
But from there, he took an interesting route.
Instead of fighting in Shooto, Pancrase or DEEP, like many other top Japanese fighters do, Tezuka decided to fight for promotions like HEAT and Grachan.
In the era when there is no such a thing called "major league" MMA promotion in Japan, although Shooto, Pancrase and DEEP still maintains their place as top promotions in that country, fighting and beating good opponents are also possible in the other promotions in HEAT and Grachan.
The clear example is Tezuka's team mate Kiichi "Strasser" Kunimoto.
After Kunimoto lost to Takenori Sato in Pancrase, "Strasser" won four straight in HEAT and got the call from UFC.
So, right now, Tezuka is trying to follow the same path as his team mate.
More than likely, he needs couple more wins against better opponents than Numajiri, in a much better way though.
Sunday, March 29th, 2015
At Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
The Main Event – Bantamweight Bout 5 min 3R
Motonobu Tezuka (Japan / MMA Dojo Cobra-kai) vs Takeshi Numajiri (Japan / AACC)
Winner: 2R 0'10" Motonobu Tezuka by TKO (referee stoppage – leg injury)
Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (www.boutreview.com)