The Vale Tudo Japan series were annual events connected to Shooto from 1994 to 1999 and featured early pro fights from RIckson Gracie, Randy Couture and Hayato "Mach" Sakurai.
Three of the four so far confirmed for Vale Tudo Japan 2009, Sato, Gomi and Nogueira, fought 10 years earlier on the same card at the then-final Vale Tudo event. At Vale Tudo Japan 2009, Shooto champion "Lion" Inoue will take on former champ Nogueira, while Sato and Gomi will face opponents to be announced.
Inoue (16-3) recaptured his 143-lb. Shooto title last November against Hideki Kadowaki and in May stopped Rumina Sato in the first round. His opponent "Pequeno" Nogueira (13-5-2) was considered one of the world's best in the early 2000s but has fought sporadically in recent years. He's coming off a loss at WEC 34 in July 2008 to current WEC featherweight title no. 1 contender Jose Aldo.
Sato (24-14-2) is a Shooto legend in Japan and like many aging fighters has a losing streak that encourages pleas for retirement. He's lost six out his last seven, but to his credit, all his losses have been against titleholders and top-tier fighters such as Inoue, Hatsu Hioki, Akitoshi Tamura and Gilbert Melendez.
The former PRIDE lightweight champion Gomi (30-5) got back on track with a knockout over Takashi Nakakura in his return to Shooto in May.