All year long, Usuda’s been presented as one of the most well-rounded and dangerous workers on the BattlArts roster. Booking-wise, he’s clearly only behind both Ishikawa and Ikeda in terms of importance to the company at this early point of its history. He comes across almost as a synthesis of the strengths of his two superiors–he has the ability to control a match on the ground but his standing kicks bring a lot of stopping power.
Usuda’s all clean and precise technique in this match. He comes across as such a threat, especially given how banged up Ikeda looks here with bandaged up knees and all that. Usuda too got a real big win to advance to the finals here, having tapped out Ishikawa in the semi-finals. He’s such a great contrast too to Ikeda, who in this time has always felt like much more of a grimy street fighter with some technique to back him up. Paired against this machine, Ikeda actually comes across as an underdog.
Mechanically brilliant as Usuda is throughout this whole thing, Ikeda can’t help but steal the show with his selling. It’s never anything too dramatic, but there’s a real sense of struggle from him especially when Usuda’s laying in those strikes on their feet. Ikeda’s able to express a very endearing babyface spirit when absorbing those attacks, and one can’t help but root for him to find a way out against Usuda. That’s why the finish plays so beautifully. Usuda’s closing in with strikes and even drops Ikeda down to the mat to lay in some ground and pound. But Ikeda’s just able to position himself and elbow Usuda to grab an arm submission that gets the win. Hell yeah, love our scruffy kicky hero.