Kiichi Kunimoto made his Bellator debut Friday at Bellator 224 in Oklahoma, but Ed Ruth was there to spoil the party.
Having been bounced from the Bellator welterweight grad prix, wrestling standout Ed Ruth was looking to bounce back from the first loss of his career. That loss came in December, against the formidable Neiman Gracie. At Bellator 224 on Friday night in Thackerville, OK, Ruth had a very different challenge in front of him: former UFC and RIZIN fighter Kiichi Kunimoto.
Kunimoto, who had won two straight in RIZIN, was making his Bellator MMA debut Friday night. It did not go his way.
Ruth opened the first bout of the Bellator 224 card with a leg kick, then ate one in return. Kunimoto seemed lighter on his feet, but a left hand from Ruth caught the Japanese fighter, giving him pause. Kunimoto seemed to think takedown, moments later, and nearly caught a kick, but was eventualy tied up by Ruth along the fence. Soon enough it was Ruth scoring the takedown, and Kiichi Kunimoto would be forced to work off his back with an NCAA wrestler on top. Kunimoto managed to wall walk back up, however. But on the feet, Ruth seemed to have the edge as well, landing a punch over the top after a Kunimoto kick, a sequence that ended with Kunimoto on his back, Ruth on top.
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Round two started a little wild, with both fighters swinging, but it was Kunimoto getting the worse of it. Ruth would fire a high kick, but Kiichi would land a punch on Ruth that backed the American up. Kunimoto then dropped for a takedown, but that wasn’t going to happen against the decorated wrestler, and they wound up back in the middle moments later. Ruth took a hefty swing but fanned; perhaps the biggest surprise was that Ruth wasn’t simply driving Kunimoto to the ground.
With ninety seconds to go, a bloodied Kunimoto found himself backed up by the fence. A kick that wound up being more of a knee landed to the head as Kunimoto dropped to shoot for a takedown, and the Japanese fighter fell forward. Ruth began dropping bombs as Kunimoto covered up, and that was all she wrote! Ed Ruth was back in the win column, improving to 7-1 as a pro.
Ed Ruth def. Kiichi Kunimoto by TKO, Round 2, 3:49