Would Hisaki Kato be able to solve the puzzle the taller, longer Chidi Njokuani posed at Bellator 189?
After three straight misses at making the welterweight limit, Chidi Njokuani made his middleweight debut Friday. Opposite him in the Bellator MMA cage was Japanese-French standout Hisaki Kato, who rolled into Bellator 189 on a three-fight win streak. The event went down at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Once the action was underway, Kato knocked Njokuani’s legs out from under him early, though it looked to be more of a slip. Njokuani would reset, launching a front kick of his own. Clearly the longer fighter, he looked to establish distance early. However, Kato would upend him again rushing in, but was unable to keep him down. As the round progressed, Njokuani got his jab going, connecting clean with Kato, who was rolling the dice trying to find a way to close the distance against his taller, longer foe.
With Njokuani getting the better of the striking in round one, could Hisaki Kato turn things around in the second? Again, Kato dangerously rushed forward to close the distance. That was a dangerous gamble against Chidi Njokuani, who also possessed a speed advantage. Kato was showing damage around the nose, while Njokuani was looking fresh. In a clinch near the midway mark, Njokuani landed a big knee to the body of Kato. Halfway through the bout, it was clear Kato was struggling to solve the riddle Njokuani posed. Kato was now showing damage around the eye as well. A lead left hook followed by a knee followed, with Njokuani in full control.
Round three would find Kato almost certainly needing a knockout. However, it was Njokuani who scored a knockdown with a right hand that sent Kato reeling. The bulk of the round didn’t go much better for Kato, who resorted to a desperation takedown. Njokuani stayed up with a fence grab that earned a warning, but in the end they went to the buzzer. A one-sided affair, there was never any doubt as to the winner.
After the bout, however, it appeared Njokuani may have a broken foot, as it was looking mighty swollen.
Chidi Njokuani def. Hisaki Kato by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)