This is has been the busiest week in MMA for a long time. WEC 50, Bellator 25 (which was the worst event they’ve put on so far – minus Hornbuckle vs. Blackburn), Strikeforce: Houston, and SRC 14 are all within days of each other. I for one do not feel overworked by the amount of high-impact combat action I get to watch while sitting on my ass, I can’t wait for Saturday’s Strikeforce event, and Sengoku 14 – although airing pretty fucking late, will still get my full attention.
Headlining the overseas card will be a middleweight rematch between current champion Jorge Santiago and PRIDE welterweight grand prix champion Kazuo Misaki. These two fan-favorites first met at Sengoku – No Ran 2009, and fought for the vacant middleweight belt. Misaki was well on his way to winning a decision until a 5th round come-from-behind victory from the American Top Team fighter. Santiago leapt in, took Misaki down, unleashed some ground and pound before jumping to mount, took Misaki’s back when rolled over, and locked in a tight rear-naked choke, nearly putting the former Grabaka Hitman out. It was a triumphant and emotional victory for Jorge Santiago, and a devastating loss for the Japanese native.
Since their first meeting, both fighters have gone 1-1. Santiago got quickly destroyed by KSW veteran Mamed Khalidov in a non-title fight at Sengoku 11, but avenged that loss at Sengoku 12 – winning a unanimous decision over the Polish fighter. Misaki rebounded after the loss to Jorge by submitting UFC and PRIDE veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura, but was stopped by Dutch wrecking ball Melvin Manhoef at Dynamite!! 2009. Misaki also found himself in some legal trouble outside of MMA, getting arrested for injuring a police officer when he fled the scene after getting pulled over for talking on his cell phone, which is illegal in Tokyo. You can read about that here if you want. Now, Misaki finds himself in perfect position to get his long MMA career back on track, fighting once again for the Sengoku strap against a highly-ranked and extremely dangerous former foe.
Japanese notables Hatsu Hioki and Akihiro Gono will compete tomorrow night. Hioki will be taking on TUF 9 participant Jeff Lawson, and Gono will be fighting the 2-2 Jadamba Narantungalag. Needless to say, I think both Japanese fighters will make quick work of their opposition.
Also at Sengoku 14 will be two fights in the first ever Sengoku welterweight grand prix. Veteran American fighter Nick Thompson will be taking on Taisuke Okuno, and Yasubey Enomoto will be fighting Kenta Takagi. This event also features the second round of the first ever Sengoku bantamweight grand prix, and those fights are:
- Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Kil Woo Lee
- Takuya Eizumi vs. Shoko Sato
- Tatsuya So vs. Wataru Takahashi
- Hirokazu Nishimura vs. Jae Hyun So
I know very little about the bantamweight tournament participants, but I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from their performances tomorrow night. Sengoku 14 airs LIVE Saturday at 11pm PT, only on HDNet. I’m sure there will be a stream somewhere online, where I don’t know, but I’d check Sopcast for it. Now, onto my quick picks…
- Jorge Santiago via submission, round 3.
- Akihiro Gono via knockout, round 1.
- Hatsu Hioki via submission, round 2.
- Nick Thompson via TKO, round 2.
- Yasubey Enomoto via unanimous decision.
The rest of the fights I have no idea, and won’t waste your time with picks on fighters I know nothing about. Enjoy the event, and stay tuned Sunday morning for my Sengoku 14 recap!