Imanari by Dec.
Kenichi Serizawa officiates our third tourney bout tonight. After a tense opening minute or so of either man measuring each distance and feinting, Imanari fires first with two (missed) flying kicks. Fujiwara fires back with occasional low and body kicks. Imanari continues to fly at Fujiwara with middle and thrusting side kicks. Serizawa calls a temporary stop to warn both fighters to fight less conservatively.
Imanari closes in for the clinch off of a middle kick and puts Fujiwara against the ropes. Fujiwara defends, but cannot stop the followup leg scissors takedown. Imanari fishes for the heel hook and almost gets it twice, but Fujiwara defends and forces his way into the Ashikan Judan's guard. The Deep champ throws palm strikes to the side of the ZST champ's ears, trying to force movement. Imanari tries for the rubber guard and Fujiwara prevents the lockdown, sitting up to drop punches.
Imanari elevates and sweeps Fujiwara, taking top in side control, where he unleashes knees to Fujiwara's ribs. The ZST vet replies in kind with knees from bottom to the side of Imanari's head. Imanari takes mount and remains snugly on top as he drops short punches and shoulder strikes to Fujiwara's head. Imanari postures up and drops a few hard punches before he is kicked off.
They're back standing, but it doesn't stay there long. Imanari misses another leg scissors takedown, but that's nothing a guard pull won't solve. The round ends with Imanari on his back, looking to land up-kicks on Fujiwara.
The nonchalant Imanari sticks again to the outer perimeter, throwing flying kicks and punches Fujiwara's way every so often. Fujiwara closes in to throw a left hook and then quickly backs away as Imanari drops for a leg. It doesn't catch and Imanari stands up to bide his time for the next attempt. It comes off of a hook, body kick combo from Fujiwara. Imanari eats the blows and again tries to drop for a leg after and misses it.
Fujiwara lands a big right hook and drops Imanari against the ropes. It's unclear whether Imanari was really clobbered or if he just took the punch to get close enough to take the fight to the ground. Either way, Fujiwara sees he can't finish here and so backs off to stand the fight back up.
The second big punch is a left from Fujiwara that appears to have sparked Imanari or at least buckled his knees. Fujiwara lunges in to finish, and in true Ashikan Judan fashion, Imanari falls back and tries to work off his back under fire in the last 20 seconds. He puts Fujiwara in the rubber guard but can't lock anything up before the bell.
Official scores: All three judges -- Hikaru Adachi, Samio Kimura and Akira Shoji -- rule the bout for Masakazu Imanari to advance to the semi-finals.