At the press conference held on Tuesday, February 16, World Victory Road (WVR) public relations director, Michihiro Iida stated that WVR has settled on "Armbar Kim" as Blanco`s opponent after ruminating about who could pose a challenging but manageable matchup for the Venezuelan native.
Lightweight King of Pancrase and former freestyle wrestling standout, Maximo "Maxi" Blanco (4-2-1) has been confirmed to square off with Korean submission artist, Chang Hyun Kim (15-5) at Sengoku 12 on March 7.
Sengoku 12, the inaugural event under the new "Sengoku Raiden Championship" banner will take place at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, and the event will air on HDNet in North America.
Maxi last competed at Sengoku 10 in September last year and triumphed over 19 year-old ZST prospect, Tetsuya Yamada via second-round TKO. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak since losing via DQ at Sengoku 8 last May; in his second-to-last victory, he wrested the Lightweight King of Pancrase title from Katsuya Inoue.
His upcoming opponent, Chang Hyun Kim, has been dubbed the "Armbar Kim" for his high win ratio by way of armbar (the technique accounts for eight of fifteen career wins). Having cut his teeth in Korean circuits such as Spirit MC, Kim made his North American debut last November at a KOTC Canada event. Currently on a six-fight winning streak, he has not dropped a match since November 2006.
Blanco, whom WVR has been grooming under the Sengoku Fighter Development program, has thus far demonstrated a wild, high octane fighting style underpinned by his freestyle wrestling background and developing striking game. While his training at Yoshida dojo has equipped him with the rudiments of submission defense, acquiring ground game remains an ongoing challenge for him.
Thus, his upcoming fight against "Armbar Kim" should serve as a barometer for his proficiency in submission grappling.
In the wake of the recent expiration of the contract between Yoshida dojo and Sengoku, Blanco has found a new home in a Pancrase-affiliate gym. At the press conference, he revealed that he is in no hurry to contend for a lightweight title in Sengoku. Also, he said (perhaps in jest) that he does not want to defend his King of Pancrase title because "he has been evolving as a fighter."
When the potential 2012 Olympic bid for his Sengoku Fighter Development colleague and fellow freestyle wrestling standout, Shigeki Osawa, came up, he simply stated, "I want to go to London for sightseeing. I will concentrate on my professional career."
Elsewhere, Marlon Sandro has also been confirmed for participation in Sengoku 12. His original opponent (rumored to be the Sengoku featherweight champion, Masanori Kanehara) has reportedly been injured, and there is no word yet on who the new opponent will be.
Stay tuned to MMAmania for more information about the upcoming Sengoku 12 fight card.