Of the latest fighters on loan, two made their way to Japan this evening in the shape of Brian Rafiq, who took on Pancrase cosplay "otaku," Hikaru Sato (Pictures), in the semifinal, and Danny Batten, fresh off of a three-fight signing with Pancrase -- the first of which would pit him against Pancrase featherweight star Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures) in the main event.
Having barely one week to prepare as a last minute replacement, Batten, the Cage Warriors featherweight champ, tasted bitter defeat, dropping to 11-5-3 against Maeda.
Far from his typical form as well, Maeda took the better of two rounds to get into the swing of things, only realizing after two periods that he had the Briton's number. Tentative and otherwise leaving the obligation of attacking up to Maeda, Batten showed little attempt to damage his opponent.
Teasing the crowd with the occasional resounding low kick or a hard, single punch every now and again, Batten's potential to unleash a succession of deadly strikes seemed just under the surface, but unfortunately never came to fruition.
Both men began the first round tentatively, measuring each other with hard low kicks and brief punching staccatos. After a hard Batten kick to the midsection, Maeda shot in for a takedown, slamming him to the floor as Batten fought for underhooks. From guard, Maeda ticked away the remaining minutes by peppering Batten with punches from top position.
Batten fared no better in the second period as he continued to backpedal, apparently waiting for his opening to counter Maeda. Outside of a few jabs and several front kicks however, Maeda proved non-compliant, and gave the Cage Warrior champ little to work with.
After being reset off of a Maeda takedown attempt that almost put both fighters out of the ring, the Japanese featherweight came to the conclusion that Batten's lack of offense proved him to be of little danger.
Deciding then to push the pace as the bout's aggressor, Maeda engaged Batten with a barrage of well-placed body punches and hooks, rocking the Briton. Though unable to dispatch him with the following flurries and knees, Maeda was able to take Batten down and dominantly pound him out for the duration of the round.
Regardless of Batten's ability to ride out the final frame till the very end, Maeda's dominant ground and pound throughout the length of the third did little to help his case. With the ref almost stopping the fight midway through due to a number of unanswered ground and pound punches, Maeda left no doubt in the mind of the judges that his one-sided shellacking of the Cage Warriors representative deserved the unanimous decision victory. In agreement, the judges scored the bout 30-28, 30-28, 30-27 in favor of Maeda.