Japan’s Naoki Inoue picked up a win today in his RIZIN promotional debut when he got the nod from the judges following his bout with Australia’s Trent Girdham.
The pair’s bantamweight clash at RIZIN 21, was an entertaining affair that could have gone either way. When this bout was announced it had all the hallmarks of a grappler vs. striker duel with Inoue expected to have a considerable advantage if the bout went to the mat.
The opening round was a cagey affair with both men feeling each other out on the feet. Girdham, in particular, looked sharp as he switched stances and probed at Inoue defenses.
The Japanese fighter looked comfortable standing and had a couple of decent attacking combinations that put Girdham onto the back foot. At the 1:40 mark, Girdham momentarily dropped Inoue, who soon began bleeding from the nose.
The 22-year-old Toyohashi-native finally got the fight to the ground with just over a minute left of the opening frame, but Girdham was able to get back to his feet quickly.
The second-round was the polar opposite of the first with Inoue taking Girdham down at the two-minute mark and pouring on the pressure as he went searching for a submission.Girdham found himself trapped in a perfectly constructed body triangle lock but was able to avoid being submitted.
The final round saw the fight remain standing with Inoue unable to take the fight back to the mat. However, despite Girdham landing several clean body shots when the final bell sounded, it was Inoue who got the win, with the judges obviously valuing his near submission attempts higher than Girdham’s strikes.