Possibly one of the most gifted ground fighters in all of Japan, Shinji Sasaki has slowly become one of the top Lightweights in Shooto in a day and age when most of its top f ghters jump ship to bigger organizations for more fame and glory. Sasaki was first noticed back in 2006 when he was the runner-up in a Shooto Rookie Lightweight tournament, where he lost the first fight in his career – to Yoshihiro Koyama – by unanimous decision after being unable to submit the crafty wrestler.
Sasaki would then go on to submit his next three opponents, all with chokes. He got the biggest win of his career up to that point by finishing Italian mixed martial arts Lightweight Paolo Milano.
He would then get the biggest shot of his career, facing off with French Lightweight wunderkind Bendy Casimir at Shooto’s largest event of the year, Shooto Tradition 1. The two fighters would do much of their combat on the ground, as Sasaki looked for submissions from his back, while Casimir would work from the top with ground and pound. Sasaki threatened with several submissions, but Casimir escaped them and held on for position en route to a decision victory.
Not letting this loss get in his way, Sasaki got back on the horse rather quickly at Shooto Tradition 2, only two months later. On this occasion, he would face off with dangerous striker Jin Kazeta. Sasaki wasted no time and took the fight right to the ground, not wanting to take any risks on the feet. Sasaki started to wrap around a dumbfounded Kazeta, positioned himself on Kazeta’s back, and locked in the fight-ending rear-naked choke in impressive fashion.
Besides tearing up the Lightweight scene in Shooto, Sasaki has also been excelling in the world of submission grappling, putting his submission skills to the test against some of the best in the world. One thing that has held Sasaki back in his mixed martial arts career has been injuries, but now he is healthy and ready to challenge for the Shooto title sometime in the near future. However things work out, watch out for Sasaki to make some noise in the coming months.