Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
National Yoyogi Stadium, Tokyo, Japan
Japan’s World Victory Road continues the featherweight tournament they started last March. The tournament is down to eight men from the original sixteen competitors. Sengoku is locked in a battle with Japanese competitor DREAM to get attention in the country’s market. Traditionally an MMA hotbed, attention for the sport has apparently waned a bit since the demise of juggernaut PRIDE. DREAM also has a featherweight tournament in progress, but both companies have taken different roads in trying to attract attention. DREAM has contracted established Japanese stars, however Sengoku has gotten good reviews and attention for launching an exciting tournament of relatively newcomers. Going into round 2 of the tournament, there does not appear to be a clear favorite to take home the title.
Nick Denis comes off a quick two minute KO in the first round, and now takes on Marlon Sandro, who won by standing choke in round 2. Japaese fighter Masanoru Kanehara, who won by decision in round 1 of the tourney gets Korean upstart Change Sung Jung, who fought a slugfest in round one against Shintaro Ishiwatari in what was labeled the fight of the night back in March. Michihiro Omigawa, who won by decision in round 1, gets Nam Phan who was impressive with a ‘drop them dead’ KO after only three minutes back in March. Perhaps the tournament favorite is Hatsu Hioki, who showed stunning transitions in round one as he made short order of Chris Manuel, ending the match by arm bar. He gets Ronnie Mann, who won by decision. The Japanese fans and the promotion alike are looking for a new face to emerge from among the three Japanese fighters left, however Denis, Sandro, Phan and the upstart Jung all have a good chance of emerging winners in May.
The single bouts in the tournament lack star power as well, as Sengoku has considerably trimmed down its roster as they are running shows in Yoyogi’s second arena which seats under 5000. Jiu Jitsu champions Alexandre Ribeiro and Leonardo Santos are on the card, as is Mexican pro wrestler Maximo Blanco. American heavyweight warhorse Travis Wiuff returns as well, and he takes on a tough Bulgarian fighter. Makoto Takimoto is the biggest of the Japanese names, as the former judoka tries to even his MMA record at 5-5 after going 2-4 in his last 6 bouts. He gets Michael Costa, a Brazilian who lost to top ten welterweight Nick Thompson back in Sengoku’s 3rd event.
In the United States, the event will be broadcast on cable channel HDNet, so be on the lookout for local listings. The complete card appears below.
Featherweight Tournament (Round 2)
Hatsu Hioki v Ronnie Mann
Michihiro Omigawa v Nam Phan
Masanoru Kanehara v Chan Sung Jung
Marlon Sandro v Nick Denis
Leonardo Santos v Kazunori Yokota
Maximo Blanco v Akihiko Mouri
Alexandre Ribeiro v Keiichiro Yamamiya
Stanislav Nedkov v Travis Wiuff
Michael Costa v Makoto Takimoto
Kota Ishibashi v Shigeki Osawa
**Card Subject To Change