Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta made an impressive ONE Championship debut on Friday, 7 December.
Taking on former ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva at ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Japanese warrior put together a comprehensive performance en route to a unanimous decision victory.
The 31-year-old showcased tremendous grappling to battle a third-degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt on the ground. He was sharp and on point for the majority of the three-round strawweight contest, and inserted himself in the title picture.
In a technical grappling showcase, Yosuke Saruta outduels Alex Silva to claim a unanimous decision victory!Watch the full event LIVE & FREE on the ONE Super App ???? http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast.
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, December 7, 2018
As soon as the opening bell sounded, Silva pressed forward, stalked his rival, and looked to engage in a striking battle. Both competitors tentatively exchanged punches and went for takedown attempts.
It was the Brazilian who appeared most effective in his attempt at first. He used the momentum from his striking attack to shoot for the takedown, but when he pressed his adversary against the fence, Saruta tossed “Little Rock” onto his back, and tried to unload punches from top position.
The BJJ black belt cleverly defended and returned to his feet, but the Japanese athlete tried to wear him down against the cage and hurt him with knees.
In the second round, Silva was more aggressive. He pushed the pace with his wild combinations and continued to hunt for the takedown.
Saruta, however, employed great defense in both the stand-up and the grappling exchanges. He replied by connecting with overhands and counter left hooks.
Even when the Evolve product took his back and pressed him up against the fence, Saruta — a Shooto Strawweight World Champion — used his judo skills and threatened with an uchi mata to effectively reverse positions.
It seemed like the Japanese warrior was always one step ahead of his Brazilian adversary.
The third and final round saw Silva come out aggressively once again, perhaps sensing he had fallen behind on the judges’ scorecards.
“Little Rock” searched for the single-leg takedown for the majority of the frame, in hopes of bringing the action to the canvas where he could threaten his rival with submissions.
Instead, Saruta landed a takedown of his own, as he ducked under the Brazilian’s punch.
Despite operating with his back to the canvas, Silva remained as dangerous as ever. He quickly went for a helicopter armbar and constantly attacked Saruta’s legs, but the Japanese veteran brilliantly escaped every submission attempt.
With under 30 seconds left in the contest, the Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts representative sealed his fate by hitting a takedown and exploding with ground strikes all the way to the final bell.
In the end, all three judges scored the match in favor of Saruta.
The Japanese athlete improved his record to 18-8-3 and instantly established himself as a contender for the ONE Strawweight World Title.