In a major upset in Japanese mixed martial arts, Mizuto Hirota defeated Satoru Kitaoka by fourth-round TKO Sunday at Sengoku IX, winning the World Victory Road promotion's lightweight title.
The first three rounds featured some back-and-forth action with the heavily favored Kitaoka generally getting the better of it. But in the fourth, Kitaoka went to the ground for a lazy takedown attempt, Hirota sprawled and got Kitaoka into the north-south position, and Hirota landed a series of knees to the head on the ground -- which are illegal in the United States but legal in Japanese MMA. Those knees did serious damage and Kitaoka couldn't stop them, and so the referee stopped the fight, handing the Sengoku lightweight belt to Hirota.
Although Kitaoka is known only to hard-core MMA fans in North America, he came into this fight as a Top 10 lightweight in some rankings. The number crunchers at FightMatrix.com actually considered Kitaoka the best lightweight in the world, although he'll obviously drop in that rating system now. This was the biggest win of Hirota's career.
In other Sengoku results:
Masanori Kanehara won the featherweight tournament, beating Michihiro Omigawa in the final.
Yoshihiro Nakao beat Choi Mu Bae by unanimous decision.
Eiji Mitsuoka beat Clay French by first-round submission (guillotine choke)
Dan Hornbuckle beat Akihiro Gono by third-round KO (head kick)
Blagoi Ivanov beat Kazuyuki Fujita by split decision.
Kazuo Misaki beat Kazuhiro Nakamura by first-round submission (guillotine choke)