Sengoku XI Predictions & Fight Previews
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November 7th, Sengoku XI will be live from the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall in Tokyo, Japan. There will be a live broadcast to viewers on HDNet.
This card carries many intriguing matches. The featured match is a featherweight title number one contender match between Hatsu Hioki and Michihiro Omigawa.
Dave Herman vs. “Big” Jim York
Slugging New Zealander Jim York takes to the Sengoku ring here to face up and comer, Dave Herman. Herman is making his first return back to Sengoku since losing to “Disco Dancing Machine” Mu Bae Choi at the No Ran event in January. York makes his second straight appearance in Sengoku having been submitted by Antonio Silva at Sengoku X.
Jim York is always looking for a standup fight. His downfall has and will continue to be his submission defense and skill off of his back. York has a record of 1-2 in Sengoku, his only win coming over James Thompson by KO. He has losses to Yoshihiro “KISS” Nakao and Antonio Silva. The key to this fight for York will be to make the most out of any time where the fight is standing. In theory, York shouldn’t be able to stop a Dave Herman takedown. If and when York is on his back there is not a whole lot he can offer Herman.
Wrestling stud Dave Herman has amassed a 15-1 record in the short span of two years. His only lose to Mu Bae Choi was largely in part due to his lack of stamina. Up to the point where he gassed out, he was winning the fight. Since then, Herman is 2-0 in smaller North American promotions with wins over legend Don Frye and Josh Barnes. Herman is with an actual fight camp now, C-4 MMA. We will see if that will help his stamina problems, not that this fight has the makings of a long war. Herman should be able to take down and submit York or TKO him from a dominant position.
Prediction - Herman by TKO
Kevin Randleman vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Kevin Randleman’s second fight since a brutal staph infection that kept him out of action for a year, he returns to Sengoku to take on Bulgarian wrestler Stanislav Nedkov. Randleman in his one fight since the layoff, lost in Strikeforce to Mike Whitehead. Nedkov is undefeated in his career at 7-0 coming off his best win by TKO over Travis Wiuff at Sengoku VIII.
Randleman did not look himself in his return against Whitehead. Randleman was taken down repeatedly en route to losing a unanimous decision against Whitehead. In this upcoming fight with Nedkov the deciding factor will be whoever is able to get the takedown and maintain a steady work rate from on top. Randleman needs to be the first one to initiate the ground game. Normally, I would say Randleman has the wrestling advantage. Who knows at this point if he is the same fighter.
Nedkov, pulling the upset, had a great win over Travis Wiuff in his last outing with some help from a couple of illegal shots to the groin. All in all it’s still a win. Nedkov’s plan is to get on top and work ground and pound. Do you want to see this in full effect? Watch his one and only fight in PANCRASE against Masayuki Kono. He quickly took down and TKO’ed Kono inside of two minutes. Again the x-factor is who is getting the takedown. The question is can Randleman be taken down by Nedkov? If Nedkov can get on top, expect him to win.
Prediction - Nedkov by Decision
Mamed Khalidov vs. Jorge Santiago
A non title affair for Sengoku Middleweight Champion Jorge Santiago. A very tough fight taking on highly touted Polish prospect Mamed Khalidov. Santiago is fighting for the first time since January where he choked out Kazuo Misaki in one of the most thrilling fights all year. Khalidov is stepping up to the plate for the biggest fight of his career.
Mamed Khalidov holds a record of 19-3 with a well balanced amount of wins by TKO (8) and submission (10). You may remember him from ShoXC , where he manhandled Jason Guida by way of 2nd round TKO. His last win was a quick, exciting KO over gatekeeper and former PRIDE fighter Daniel Acacio. This will be a very tough test for Khalidov as Santiago is a top ten middleweight in most rankings. Through striking or grappling both of these fighters can put on a close battle. The only concern is that Khalidov is being thrown right into the fire in Sengoku. He certainly has the skills to be victorious.
American Top Team trained Jorge Santiago is one of the best stories in mixed martial arts right now. After losing out of the UFC he has completely rejuvenated his career with nine straight wins, all coming by stoppages. He won the Sengoku Middleweight Grand Prix then went on to defeat one of the toughest middleweights in the world, Kazuo Misaki, to get the belt. Hopefully Santiago is not taking Khalidov lightly, he can give Santiago trouble anywhere the fight goes. Santiago can also fight great anywhere. During the Grand Prix Santiago showed off KO power and submission skills. He nearly took Kazuhiro Nakamuras head off with a punch. He also heel hooked SHOOTO champ Siyar Bahadurzada.
Prediction - Santiago by Decision
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Jorge Masvidal vs. Satoru Kitaoka
Former Sengoku Lightweight champion Satoru Kitaoka is back after losing his crown to Mizuto Hirota. Masvidal takes back to the Sengoku ring after the first season of Bellator where he lost in the lightweight tournament to Toby Imada. Both men are hungry for a win.
Kitaoka was one of the most underrated fighters, not only in Japan but in the world, prior to exposure in Sengoku. Holding submission wins over the likes of Kurt Pellegrino and Carlos Condit, Kitaoka is one of the best lightweight submission fighters in the world. His preferences are leglocks and guillotines. He is a wizard at both. Kitaoka needs to grapple if he has any chance of winning against Masvidal. The problem when he fought Hirota was that Hirota was a better striker. Hirota is also adept at avoiding and defending submissions. Great submission defense is a must obviously when you fight Kitaoka, he needs only to get a hold of you to attempt a submission. He does not necessarily need a takedown. If Kitaoka can plant the right sub on Masvidal there’s no escape.
Fresh off a 2-1 Bellator stint, losing to Toby Imada but getting wins over Erick Reynolds and Nick Aguilar,“Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal returns overseas. He will be greeted by one of Sengoku’s best lightweights. Masvidal is mainly a striker but has improved in grappling, the ridiculous sub Imada hit on him aside. The question will be how good his defense is against a submission wizard like Kitaoka. Masvidal will definitely be put in submission trouble during the course of the fight if he doesn’t score a quick knockout. The pace of the fight will settle in Masvidal’s favor by escaping from submission trouble effectively. I feel the submissions of Kitaoka are excellent and eventually will force Masvidal to tap. This is the most intriguing fight on the card. It will answer questions about Masvidals submission defense and how Kitaoka comes back after losing the belt.
Prediction - Kitaoka by leglock
Kazunori Yokota vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
This fight is a lightweight title number one contender match. The winner will most likely face champion Mizuto Hirota for the belt at the Sengoku Raiden Championship event on New Year’s Eve. Grabaka’s Kazunori Yokota returns after mercilessly KO’ing Ryan Schultz at Sengoku X. Yokota faces Eiji Mitsuoka, who is coming off two straight first round victories.
Team Grabaka trained Kazunori Yokota holds a 10-2-3 record and also he is a criminally underrated fighter. He holds a win over current Sengoku lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota and also went fifteen minutes with former champion Satoru Kitaoka, both of those fights coming on the same night. He is a well rounded fighter having good striking but mainly using his grappling skills defensively to his advantage. This is a good style matchup for him, he is a better striker than Mitsuoka and should be able to avoid his submissions. Eventually he should obtain a KO or decision win.
Eiji Mitsuoka, probably most famous to fans as being the man who Chris Brennan submitted twice in the same fight in PRIDE, takes on Yokota for a chance to fight for the title. He is on somewhat of a roll with two straight submission victories over Clay French and Sergey Golyaev, both coming in round one. His only recent loss is to Satoru Kitaoka last November. You would have to go back to 2007 for his next loss, which was to Krazy Bee’s Kotetsu Boku in Cage Force. Unlike what I said about Yokota, this is a bad style matchup for Mitsuoka. He is not as good of a striker as Yokota. The only fighter that’s ever stopped Yokota is former DEEP lightweight champion Seung Hwan Bang. Mitsuoka should not be able to submit Yokota either. Yokota has shown competent defensive grappling and submission defense in the past.
Prediction - Yokota by Decision
Shigeki Osawa vs. Ronnie Ushiwaka
One of three featherweight bouts on the card, Sengoku Gold Cup Featherweight winner and talented Amateur Wrestler Shigeki Osawa faces England’s Ronnie Ushiwaka. Osawa looks to stay unbeaten against his toughest opponent yet, while Ushiwaka looks to rebound after a quick triangle loss to Hatsu Hioki.
Yoshida Dojo’s Shigeki Osawa is 4-0 in his young career and was also the featherweight winner of the Sengoku Gold Cup. He defeated DEEP veteran Toru Harai in the finals at Sengoku IX. Osawa then defeated his counterpart, Korean Sengoku Gold Cup featherweight winner Ki Hyun Kim at Sengoku X. This fight is by far his toughest and may be too much for him, as he is still young in his career. Osawa will be able to take down Ronnie but will be at a disadvantage standing and will be in constant submission trouble from the top position. This fight maybe too big of a jump in competition for Osawa.
Ronnie Ushiwaka was involved in one of the best fights all year at Sengoku VII in the first round of the featherweight Grand Prix with ZST product Tetsuya Yamada. He won a close decision over Yamada then went on to lose to Hatsu Hioki by triangle in the second round. He is pretty good on his feet but also has 10 wins by submission. Anywhere the fight goes Ronnie should be able to get the better of Osawa. He has to make peace with the fact that he is probably going to be double legged and sat down by Osawa. He then has to be busy from off his back with submission attempts because that will be his main weapon in this fight.
Prediction - Ushiwaka by Submission
Yuji Hoshino vs. Marlon Sandro
Compelling featherweight bout here as Sengoku Featherweight tournament semi finalist and King Of PANCRASE Marlon Sandro puts on the gloves to face one of the most underrated and lesser talked about featherweights in Yuji Hoshino. Call it a robbery or what you will, Sandro was defeated by Michihiro Omigawa in the semifinals of the tourney. Hoshino on the other hand won the tourney he was involved in, the Cage Force Featherweight tournament. This is his first fight since winning that tournament.
Hoshino is a lesser known featherweight to most fans due to not fighting on the big Japanese shows but he does have top ten ability. His last few fights were in the Cage Force Featherweight Tournament, which he won and was crowned Cage Force Featherweight Champion. He beat “Wicky” Akiyo Nishiura in the final to seal the deal, dominating him on the floor for a decision win. He is also unbeaten since 2005. He has eleven straight fights without a loss, eight wins and three draws. His last loss was 2004 to Daisuke Nakamura in DEEP. He is good both standing and on the ground, he is a good top positional grappler that can pass guard effectively and submit. The only problem with this matchup for him is that Sandro is also a great grappler. Sandro can also get takedowns with his strength then smother and use his grappling to stay out of trouble while staying busy enough to not get stood up.
Marlon Sandro gets back into it after that controversial decision loss to Omigawa to face off with Hoshino. That loss was Sandro’s first loss in his career, not a fun way to get your first loss. Up to that point, Sandro was being called a favorite along with Hioki to take the tournament, thanks to his 19 second destruction of “The Ninja of Love” Nick Denis and his nasty standing Arm Triangle on KOTC vet Matt Jaggers. Sandro has the better end of the style matchup in this fight. He can get on top and smother Hoshino to get a decision win. Hoshino and Sandro are both best on top but Sandro is probably the stronger of the two. He has pretty good takedowns to boot. If Hoshino gets on top of Sandro then you might see the fight go a different way.
Prediction - As much as I’d like to see Hoshino win because he deserves recognition and is very underrated, he has the wrong opponent.
Prediction - Sandro by decision
Akihiro Gono vs. Yoon Young Kim
Akihiro “DJ Gozma” Gono has drawn lanky Korean DEEP veteran Yoon Young Kim at Sengoku XI. Gono’s last fight will be played on MMA highlight reels for years to come, a devastating head kick KO from Dan Hornbuckle. Kim is coming off two submission wins in a row, one in DEEP and the other in HEAT.
At a CLUB: DEEP Tokyo event earlier this year, Yoon Young Kim had a chance to fight in the DREAM Welterweight tournament. Kim was matched up in a tourney eliminator with Yuya Shirai, which he ended up losing by rear naked choke in round three. Since that time, Kim has had two first round submission wins over Ken Hamamura and Kosei Kubota. Kim is a tall, lanky fighter who will have the reach advantage over Gono. Gono may have slight problems with Kim’s reach but Gono is a better striker. Kim is also decent with submissions, but Gono is a better grappler. Basically, Kim is a good fighter but Gono is in a different class.
Akihiro Gono, man of many nicknames (DJ Gozma, The Japanese Sensation, Japanese Roy Jones Jr. etc.) is back in Sengoku after nearly getting his head kicked out of the ring at Sengoku IX by Dan Hornbuckle. That KO made it three straight losses for Gono. Previous to that fight, he had lost to Dan Hardy and Jon Fitch in the UFC by decision leading him to get cut by the UFC. Gono is an extremely hard fighter to finish. Gono is well versed in both the striking and grappling aspects of MMA, he holds seven wins by TKO and seven wins by submission in his career. Gono should be able to out technique Kim standing and on the mat. As earlier suggested, Gono may have some small problems at first with Kim’s reach but once he settles in it should be all one way traffic to Gono.
Prediction - Gono by TKO
Hatsu Hioki vs. Michihiro Omigawa
The featured bout of the evening pits Yoshida Dojo Judoka and Featherweight tournament finalist Michihiro Omigawa against lanky submission expert Hatsu Hioki. The winner of this fight will be the number one contender to Masanori Kanehara’s featherweight belt. Omigawa was the underdog special in the tourney, upsetting LC Davis, Nam Phan and Marlon Sandro. Hioki submitted his first two opponents in the tourney, Chris Manuel and Ronnie Ushiwaka. He then defeated Masanori Kanehara in the semi finals but was concussed doing so, forcing him to withdraw and allow Kanehara to take the belt by defeating Omigawa in the final.
Omigawa seemed to have the judges on his side against Sandro, but honestly the judging at Sengoku IX wasn’t the best. There have been some awful decisions in Sengoku before. Hopefully the decision in the Sandro fight did not downplay the run that Omigawa had in the tourney, being the enormous underdog. Omigawa is a guy who currently has a 7-8-1 record and has a chance to fight for the title again. Doubting Omigawa did not work for me against LC Davis and Nam Phan, but picking against him is the logical decision here. Hioki should be able to outclass Omigawa on the feet and handle him grappling. Omigawa showed some improved striking in his fight against Nam Phan but the reach of Hioki is going to be hard for him to deal with. He will be trying to get inside and eating those leg kicks that Hioki likes to throw. If Omigawa ties up on Hioki maybe he can throw him but he can not dominate Hioki on the ground like he did to LC Davis. Hioki can trouble him off his back and remain the more offensively active fighter.
The pre featherweight tournament favorite, Hatsu Hioki is back after his withdrawal due to a concussion at Sengoku IX in a decision victory over Masanori Kanehara. Hioki has thrown together an impressive resume of wins fighting in organizations such as SHOOTO, TKO and PRIDE. He has defeated the likes of Thierry Quenneville, Jeff Curran, Hideki Kadowaki and Mark Hominick. His last fights have been wins over Chris Manuel, Ronnie Ushiwaka and Masanori Kanehara. His game on the ground while on top and bottom is solid, he can throw up submissions from everywhere. Hioki is very active on the ground. While standing he has a long reach that’s difficult for most fighters to deal with and throws some strong kicks. Against Omigawa, he is going to be the better striker so if it stays on the feet he can win. If Omigawa takes it to the floor, he will be outclassed by the superior grappling of Hioki. This is a match up that Hioki should win, setting up a rematch for the belt with Kanehara.
Prediction - Hioki by decision
By Curt Meyer
ProFighting-fans.com MMA Staff Writer