photo by Yoshinori Ihara (www.boutreview.com) // PIC: 2001 ADCC world champion Sanae Kikuta (top) teaching MMA lessons to Olympic champion Makoto Takimoto.‘I wanted to finish this fight with a submission. Takimoto is a gold medallist and he knows how to not let opponents finish him.’– Sanae Kikuta, at the post-fight press conference.When Sanae Kikuta became the first ever-Japanese fighter to become an Abu Dhabi World Champion, his status in the rather obscure world of submission wrestling and MMA should have risen dramatically. As a ‘drop out’ of Judo, Kikuta rose through the ranks only to turn away and run into obscurity to the land down under. He literally was ashamed of showing his face in the Japanese Judo circles because of his own short comings in that sport and embarked on the life of adventure and traveling. He would eventually return to Japan, and work at refining his grappling skills eventually becoming an Abu Dhabi champion. For Kikuta, this rekindled the spirit of the warrior, he was reinvigorated and on track with solid body and mind.Been Down So LongAs the leader of GRABAKA and as a successful Pancrase Light Heavyweight, Kikuta experienced a few obstacles that more or less tripped up his forward MMA movement. Although he defeated Alexander Otsuka in his PRIDE debut in a very controversial match – Otsuka kept striking at Kikuta’s groin while referee Shimada somehow overlooked it – his career seemed to stagger, particularly so in PRIDE. When I met Sanae Kikuta, he was a man hungry for recognition, thirsty for a chance to redeem himself as one of the world’s top submission grappler/ MMA fighters. Even though Kikuta had to suffer through MMA Purgatory, participating mostly behind the scenes in the capacity of trainer and team leader for fighters such as Akihiro Gono or Kazuo Sasaki, he never seemed to lose hope. For a couple years he had been condemned to the backspaces of MMA, especially after losing by KO in his second encounter with Yuki Kondo, for the King of Pancrase belt. He had a couple of luke warm victories in Pancrase against fighters like Keith Rockel, but was still not satisfied. Now after much patience and waiting, and even training a Japanese TV celebrity named Bobby Ologun to be victorious twice now in MMA, it was finally the guru?s turn again to display solid martial arts.The ClinicAlthough Kikuta wanted to finish this fight by displaying his sharp submissions, he left no doubt in anyone’s mind with his overwhelmingly clinical victory. Simply said, Takimoto could neither initiate nor complete one single thought or instinctual maneuver. Right off the bell Kikuta tied up Takimoto, who was wearing a short sleeved gi. He pulled Takimoto back into his guard, and reaching under for the ankles, then unbalancing the Judo-ka who tilted back. He swiftly moved in for a heel hook but opted for top position instead. Kikuta then delivered a couple right hands to the head and controlled his opponent inside his half guard. The GRABAKA man was constantly active vying for position, side control, rights to the head, body shots, and a full mount four minutes in. He then decorated Takimoto’s left ear with leather, setting up an arm bar, losing it and slipping into a knee lock attempt.The fight continued at this pace and intensity, and what was most obvious was that Kikuta was completely confident. He then locked up Takimoto from the side position into a shoulder lock with north south positioning. Anyway Takimoto tried to escape from his school lesson, Kikuta was two steps ahead, getting back position, standing, using the GI against its inhabitant.For Kikuta, this was the fight of his life, and he literally paralyzed the movement of his Yoshida Dojo prey to every inch of his gi’s fiber with his poisonously fluid control and maneuvering. I wouldn’t be surprised if Takimoto reconsiders his own career in MMA after this rather humbling shock.BacklashAfter the show, once again PRIDE seems to have decided to send Kikuta back into MMA purgatory.How would you rate your performance? ‘As a spectator I would rate it a ten. On a personal level I conquered my complex toward Judo. As a grappler I would rate it at eight.’In his usual manner, adding a true dose of venom to Kikuta’s well-deserved victory DSE President Sakikibara said that, ‘Both fighters (Kikuta Takimoto) should start from square one, and they need to express more emotions in the ring.’I think Sakibara missed the point here, he matched up two grapplers, and he got a superb grappling match. Instead of questioning Kikuta’s performance, DSE should feel privileged to have such a fighter at hand and match him against a contrasting Mixed Martial Artist.