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Sengoku: 'Eleventh Battle' recap and final thoughts

World Victory Road presents Sengoku: "Eleventh Battle," taking place in the famed Sumo Hall, Ryogoku Kokugikan on November 7, has come to a close.

The event delivered a nine-fight card live via HDNEt and more than fulfilled the MMA enthusiasts’ thirst for thrilling competition, showcasing several wars of attrition, a barn burner of main event and a number of quick finishes that kept the live and TV audience on the edge of their seat.

As the last event of the year before the Sengoku Raiden Championship on New Year’s Eve, Sengoku 11 served as an invigorating prelude to the year-end extravaganza.

Without further ado, check out our complete fight recap after the jump.

Shigeki Osawa vs. Ronnie Mann

The night kicked off with a three-round scrap between the British prospect, Ronnie Mann and former amateur wrestling superstar, Kenji Osawa. Mann, the far more experienced of the two, staged a MMA clinic against Osawa, who made his debut on Sengoku’s main card.

Mann surprised many as he fearlessly pursued takedowns against the world class wrestler. He kept busy on the feet and on the ground to stay one step ahead of Osawa, threatening with several submission attempts. Osawa kicked up to a higher gear with forty seconds left in the final round, feverishly working the top control and ground-and-pound; however, his effort proved belated as Mann walked away with a majority decision.

Dave Herman vs. Jim York

Dave "Pee Wee" Herman notched another KO victory with a raw display of striking acumen. York took control of the stand-up exchange. With his hands hovering dangerously low, Herman got tagged repeatedly on the feet and found himself on the back. York snatched his feet for an ankle lock. Herman briefly countered with toe hold but switched gears to hammer York with heel strikes – Herman’s heel landed flush on York’s jaw to add another stoppage victory to the ledger of the unstoppable "Pee Wee."

Marlon Sandro vs. Yuji Hoshino

In a match pitting the current champions of two Japanese promotions, Marlon Sandro took one home for Pancrase as he made a quick work of Cage Force featherweight champion, Yuji Hoshino.

After a sluggish start that saw the fighters stall in the clinch, Sandro exploded forward with a flurry of mile-wide hooks to counter Hoshino’s kick: Sandro’s strikes penetrated through the gaping void above Hoshino’s low guard and landed flush on the chin.

Having shut off Hoshino’s light, Sandro earned his 15th career W and rebounded from the galling loss to Michihiro Omigawa in the semi-final round of the featherweight grand prix.

Akihiro Gono vs. Yoon Young Kim

Akihiro Gono forwent his trademark pageantry – he instead trudged to the ring with solemn expression. Upon his return to ring after a devastating KO loss to Dan Hornbuckle, he seemed devoid of his usual pizzazz: His nerves manifested in the frustratingly hesitant tussle he waged for the first two rounds.

The first round unfolded as a tentatively paced striking contest with both fighters’ trading low kicks and jab-right cross combinations. Round two proceeded in a similar fashion: Kim displayed crisp body punch combinations while Gono remained unable to pull his trigger. On the mat, Gono looked equally sluggish on the ground, content to maintain the top position.

Gono started the final round with urgency and staggered Kim with a right hand to the jaw. Finally displaying a semblance of momentum, he inflicted further damage with a series of punches and a jumping knee. Gono eked out a unanimous decision victory.

Immediately after the fight, he took the mic and demonstrated surprising English proficiency to deliver a message to his last opponent, Dan Hornbuckle: The humble veteran congratulated Hornbuckle for the victory in their bout and thanked him for the wake-up call to train harder. He concluded the message with a plea for rematch and word of encouragement in light of Hornbuckle’s possible showdown with Makoto Takimoto for the welterweight belt.

Kevin Randleman vs. Stanislav Nedkov

Upon his return to Japan, UFC and PRIDE veteran, Kevin Randleman met the undefeated Bulgarian prospect, Stanislav Nedkov for a three-round war of attrition. They traded takedowns and top control throughout the fight. An extremely close contest prompted two of the judges score it a draw and the third ruling in favor of Nedkov: In accordance with the promotional rule, the two judges were forced to overturn their verdict and pick the winner. In the end, Nedkov walked away with a split decision victory to keep his undefeated record intact.

Kazunori Yokota vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

In one of the two matches pitting top lightweight contenders, Mitsuoka and Yokota showcased a collision of "power and speed," per the pre-fight billing. Mitsuoka showed his momentum in the first round by scoring takedowns, wearing off Yokota with knee strikes and dirty boxing from the clinch, and securing advantageous positions on the ground.

Yokota proved resilient in the second and third round, peppering Mitsuoka with crisp, straight punches. Mitsuoka kept pace with stifling wrestling but ultimately proved unable to do much more than locking up Yokota with body lock. Yokota also revealed a glimpse of his judo background with an exquisite judo throw in the second round.

After a three-round war of attrition, Yokota edged Mitsuoka with unanimous decision.

Satoru Kitaoka vs. Jorge Masvidal

After having his momentum halted and belt wrested, the former lightweight champion, Satoru Kitaoka experienced another deflating loss against Jorge Masvidal.

Kitaoka had his moment in the first round, as he threatened to wrench Masvidal’s foot off with his signature heel hook. Masvidal persevered and eventually spun out of the submission. After the arduous takedown and submission effort, Kitaoka precipitously lost steam. Seemingly on auto pilot, Kitaoka persisted for one anemic takedown attempt after another but Masvidal countered with guillotine choke attempt and mercilessly punished him with ground-and-pound. The first round ended with Kitaoka bruised and struggling to walk back to his corner.

Wobbling on his feet, Kitaoka started the second round with (gasp!) another takedown. Kitaoka dug deep for every last ounce of strength to lock in a toe hold that looked tight: Again, Masvidal spun out. A slumped heap of flesh at this point, Kitaoka gave another futile attempt for takedown but eventually succumbed to Masvidal’s barrage of punches.

With a stoppage victory, Masvidal made a strong case for title shot against the current champion, Mizuto Hirota.

Jorge Santiago vs. Mamed Khalidov

In the upset special of the night, Mamed Khalidov made a quantum leap from the obscure corner to the forefront of the MMA world.

In a non-title bout against the reigning Sengoku champion and top-ranked middleweight, Jorge Santiago, the Chechen-Polish fighter sent a shockwave throughout Ryogoku Kokugikan with his granite fist.

After a slow start to the fight which saw Santiago breeze through the first round with top control on the ground, Khalidov put an exclamation mark with a punch that turned the tide: After bucking Santiago off, he got up and stunned him with a single blow, forcing the champion to turtle up. Khalidov then swarmed him with a flurry of punches until the referee intervened.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Michihiro Omigawa

In an entertaining scrap to cap off the night, Hioki and Omigawa went toe to toe in a gripping stand-up action. After a feeling-out process on the feet to begin the first round, Omigawa landed a crisp right cross.

The first significant strike of the fight served as a wake-up call for Hioki to force Omigawa into his domain. He maintained top control and peppered Omigawa relentlessly with short punches. Toward the end of the round, he secured a back mount and rolled into an arm bar, forcing Omigawa at his mercy for the last thirty seconds.

In the second round, the two fighters continued with the action on the feet. While Omigawa sought to navigate past Hioki’s reach and land big shots, Hioki countered with short straight punches to keep his foe at the end of his reach. In addition to the rudimentary but effective striking, Hioki again showcased fluid grappling on the ground.

In the third round, Omigawa turned up the heat in the striking exchange. Though neither fighter showed a decisive advantage, Omigawa started finding the target with his punches and seized the momentum in spurts. The partisan crowd sat on the edge of their seat and went into frenzy over his valiant effort.

After fifteen minutes of feverish action, Omigawa walked away with a split decision victory that sent the HDNet broadcast team into throes of disbelief – a controversial decision that reeks of favoritism and dubious judging certainly puts a damper on the entertaining bout and punctuates an otherwise solid night of action on a sour note.

Stay tuned to MMAmania for post-fight reports and other scoops on the aftermath of the event.

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