(Photo courtesy of Sports Navi)
Spoiler Alert: The event will be broadcast on tape delay on HDNet in North America next weekend.
Sengoku Raiden Championship held its inaugural event under the new promotional banner on Sunday, March 7. While the event lacked marquee names, the fight cards offered a few riveting finishes and only three of eight fights went to decision.
The event featured the middleweight title bout between the reigning champion, Jorge Santiago and Mamed Khalidov. Also, two of the fighters on the card delivered spectacular finishes that cemented their status as the top contenders in their respective divisions.
Full fight results and recap after the jump.
Kicking off the main card, the Sengoku Fighter Development program prospect, Shigeki Osawa utilized his bread-and-butter wrestling to overpower Kyung Ho Kang. The former amateur wrestling dynamo suffered the first loss of his career against Ronnie Mann at Sengoku 11 last November. Against Mann, he looked stifled as he mostly steered away from wrestling. This time, he returned to a familiar realm and outpointed Kang with a relentless medley of suplexes and ground-and-pound.
The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu prodigy, Leonardo Santos earned his first victory in SRC against the Pancrase veteran, Kiuma Kunioku. Santos, the younger brother of WEC bantamweight, Wagnney Fabiano, used his superlative grappling skill to gain dominant position on the ground. After securing mount, he breezed to submission victory via rear naked choke at 3:06 of the opening frame.
The Cage Force featherweight champion, Yuji Hoshino, also notched his first victory in SRC. After suffering a first-round knockout loss at the hand of Marlon Sandro in his promotional debut, he bounced back with a submission victory over KOTC Canada veteran, Nick Denis. Denis, the smaller of the two, displayed his arsenal of strikes in the first round; Hoshino countered by utilizing his size and wrestling ability to put him on his back. In the second round, Hoshino locked up a tight guillotine choke to force a tapout. With the victory, Hoshino catapults himself into the mix of top featherweight contenders in SRC.
In the lone heavyweight (and the most facetious) bout of the night, Yoshihiro "Kiss" Nakao pounded out Henry "Sentoryu" Miller in the second round. Though Nakao could not finish Sentoryu with the ultra-destructive "TK clutch" he hyped before the fight, win is a win for the fighter who most likely will be remembered more for his amorous antic against Heath Herring than for any accomplishment as a fighter. Next....
The featherweight King of Pancrase, Marlon Sandro could not have made a more thunderous case for a shot at the SRC Featherweight title. The Nova Uniao product needed only nine seconds to accomplish the utter destruction of Tomonari Kanomata: A single right uppercut left Kanomata motionless on the canvas. Once derided by some as the "featherweight Ricardo Arona" for his inability to finish fights, Sandro has now knocked out three of his last four opponents in the first round.
He is now arguably the frontrunner for the shot at the title, which Masanori Kanehara will defend at the next SRC event on June 20.
Following Sandro's highlight-reel knockout, the Venezuelan wild man, Maximo Blanco brought his usual, high-octane violence. While the World Victory Road brass chose Chang Hyun "Armbar" Kim to test Blanco's defensive grappling, "Maxi" stormed Kim from the opening bell with haymakers and kicks. Leaving Kim on the defensive, Blanco scored a devastating KO at the 70-second mark. Only nine fights into his career, the Lightweight King of Pancrase is a force to seize the SRC Lightweight title.
In the meantime, the SRC Lightweight champion, Mizuto Hirota walked into the ring to announce that he will vacate his title. With his plastered right arm serving as a harrowing reminder of Shinya Aoki's bone-crushing hammerlock submission on New Year's Eve, Hirota told the crowd that he expects to return to the ring in September. with the belt up for grabs, Kazunori Yokota and Jorge Masvidal stand out as the top contenders and Blanco is not far behind.
In the co-main event of the night, the resurgent Akihiro Gono welcomed the Swedish prospect, Diego Gonzalez, to SRC. Gonzalez held his own against the Pride and UFC veteran, landing effective punches throughout the first two rounds. Gono countered with leg kicks, and in the final round, hurt Gonzalez with a flurry of strikes and knees from the clinch. In the end, Gono's experience and fighting instinct prevailed, as the judges ruled 30-27x2, 30-29 in his favor.
In the main event of the night, Jorge Santiago laid his middleweight title on the line in a rematch against Mamed Khalidov. In their first encounter last November, Khalidov staged a shocking upset, catching Santiago off guard with a hammer fist off his back. This time, Santiago cautiously fought off wild strikes from Khalidov and secured kimura toward the end of the first round. He stayed busily from his guard in the second round, almost wrenching Khalidov's arm off with omoplata.
While Khalidov gained momentum in the third round with relentless attack from the top, Santiago persisted with submission attempts. Khalidov started to fade in the fourth round and while Santiago could not finish the tough KSW veteran, he cruised to unanimous decision victory. The judges awarded him 48-47, 48-47, and 49-47 on the score card.
8. Jorge Santiago Def. Mamed Khalidov via Decision 3-0
7. Akihiro Gono Def. Diego Gonzalez via decison 3-0
6. Maximo Blanco Def. Chang Hyun "Armbar" Kim via KO Round 1
5. Marlon Sandro Def. Tomonari Kanomata via KO Round 1
4. Yoshihiro "KISS" Nakao Def. Henry "Sentoryu" Miller via TKO Round 2
3. Yuji Hoshino Def. Nick Denis via submission (guillotine choke) Round 2
2. Leonardo Santos Def. Kiuma Kunioku via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1
1. Shigeki Osawa Def. Kyung Ho Kang via Decision 3-0
* For some strange reason, the promotion did not grant reporters access to the venue, thus rendering them unable to give updates. Bloody Elbow, Sherdog's Jordan Breen, amongst others scoured the cyberspace in order to bring live results and updates. Kudos to those who have contributed to live coverage in any way - if you're reading this, you know who you are!!