Goiti Yamauchi stepped into the cage for the 28th time at Bellator 229 against Saad Awad. The fight started off as pretty unremarkable until Yamauchi shot in for a single-leg against his fellow Bellator veteran. Awad defended the shot well and even briefly established top half-guard position. It only took a moment for Yamauchi to work his way back to guard and he quickly worked to isolate an arm. Awad was clearly outmatched on the ground as Yamauchi swung his leg over his head quickly to force a verbal submission via armbar in the first round.
This marked the nineteenth submission finish of Yamauchi’s career and set a new promotional record of seven submission wins. A versatile MMA grappler, Yamauchi is more well-known for his proficiency in taking the back and finishing the fight there. He’s still lethal off his back however, as the BJJ black belt got his fifth armbar finish to prove it.
Yamauchi has now won back-to-back fights and five out of six since he returned to Lightweight in 2016. His only slip in that time came against three-time Bellator Lightweight Champion, Michael Chandler. Although not quite due a title shot yet, the Lightweight title is being held up by the current champion anyway, as Patricio Freire defends his Featherweight title in the Grand Prix. This leaves time for a clear challenger to emerge from the dust surrounding Bellator’s Lightweight title-picture at the moment.
After his slick performance at Bellator 229, Yamauchi should have earnt a rematch against Chandler. If Scott Coker can put that fight together for early 2020 then that sets up the winner of that fight for a title-shot against Freire. This means either a rematch of Chandler’s last title-fight, or Yamauchi’s first attempt at Bellator gold. For more Bellator news, click here.