Confuseyus: World Victory Road Sengoku 9 Preview & Predictions
Posted by representingpuroresu on 07/23/2009
Wow, Confuseyus say el mouthful! Yes, it’s a double feature coming up for MMA fans around the first of August! First, Affliction Trilogy, which has long been rumored to be the promotion’s final PPV, starts things off on August 1 headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett for the WAMMA Heavyweight Title and perhaps a call from UFC. Then after that, the night owls get a break for a couple hours before it’s off to Japan for World Victory Road Sengoku 9, to be headlined by a couple of tournament finals then the promotion’s first champion makes what will be his first title defense. Since the cards are so close to each other time-wise we’ll put them together and do what’ll probably be the biggest preview & predictions post Confuseyus will ever do. Sit back and enjoy.
(Actually, Fedor-Barnett was the plan for Affliction. Plans have changed, so this this is going to be updated before it’s all over)
7/24 UPDATE: No longer a double feature as planned. Affliction Trilogy has been cancelled. Details still coming out. Thus I will be removing that section soon. I’ll also do an Affliction-related thoughts post soon.
(Last-minute note: Sengoku 9 actually WILL NOT air live overnight on HDNet. You’ll have to wait until 10 PM ET Friday)
Usual disclaimer: As always, these picks are strictly for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any real-life betting/wagering. A “NC” in a fighter’s record indicates No Contest. All fighter rankings are based on the latest MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings.
Sengoku 9 airs live in the US on HDNet.
Note: Sengoku uses rules and weight classes similar to the Unified MMA Rules used by UFC and other US-based organizations but also some DREAM rules. All Sengoku fights are 3 5-minute rounds, title fights are 5 5-minute rounds.
These 3 fights are Sengoku Gold Cup Tournament Final fights (a TUF-style made-for-TV competition in Japan), I will only do quick predictions for these fights:
Bantamweight: Takeshi Numajiri vs. Ryosuke Komori
Records: Numajiri 1-1, Komori 3-1
Prediction: Komori by 1st round submission/tapout.
Toru Harai vs. Shigeki Osawa
Records: Harai 6-2, Osawa 2-0
Prediction: Harai by unanimous/majority decision.
Ikuo Usuda vs. Koji Ando
Records: Usuda 4-0, Ando 2-0-2
Prediction: Usuda by unanimous/majority decision.
Featherweight GP Reserve Bout:
Matt Jaggers vs. Chang Sung Jung
Records: Jaggers 14-6, Jung 6-1
This fight will determine an injury replacement if either of the FWGP Semifinal winners can’t fight in the final that same night. It’s also a second chance for both. Both participated in earlier rounds and lost-Jaggers to Marlon Sandro, Jung to Masanori Kanehara. Jaggers has fought once since his loss, a win at Bellator’s 4th weekly event. Jung hasn’t fought since his loss, his first career defeat. Both fighters are quite balanced and about even size-wise, so on paper it’s a close fight. Tough call but looking at the records I’m leaning a little more towards Jung to catch Jaggers with a submission late in the fight. Jaggers has the striking edge but 4 of his 6 losses are by submission and 3 of Jung’s wins are by tapout. Do The MMAth.
Prediction: Jung by 3rd round submission/tapout.
Featherweight GP Semifinals:
Marlon Sandro vs. Michihiro Omigawa
Records: Sandro 14-0, Omigawa 6-7-1
Sandro is the Featherweight King Of Pancrase.
Sandro is the #10 Featherweight in the World.
The first 2 words about this fight, of course, are UPSET ALERT! If things went as planned Sandro would be fighting here, Omigawa would not. Let’s start with Omigawa-nobody expected anything of him considering how he’d fared since leaving Japan for UFC: Loss, Loss, Loss, Draw. But he’s put in the FWGP but he gets put in a “booked to lose” fight against LC Davis. When it’s all over, Omigawa shocked everyone with a decision win and cut a WWE-style promo afterwards, no love whatsoever. Next he gets rising Strikeforce star Nam Phan. Again expected to lose and be done with it. TKOs Phan. Which now brings us to the next potential wrinkle in the plans-Sandro. Representing the heralded Nova Uniao camp of Brazil, Sandro has established himself as perhaps the favorite to win the GP at this point with a submission win first over Matt Jaggers, then by KOing Nick Denis in only 19 seconds. But of course with the run Omigawa’s on here we must tread with caution. This is a fight Sandro is widely expected to win and should win, but you just never know in MMA. I’m taking Sandro to end Omigawa’s improbable run with a solid decision victory and ultimately win the GP, but it can’t be emphasized enough here on this pick: Be wary and proceed with caution. Omigawa might be a good upset flier.
Prediction: Sandro by unanimous/majority decision.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Masanori Kanehara
Records: Hioki 19-3-2, Kanehara 13-5-5
Hioki is the #3 Featherweight in the World.
This might be a rather important fight for Sengoku as some say Hioki is considered the poster boy for their Featherweight division much like, say, Urijah Faber is to WEC. The judoka, who just turned 26, is popular and already quite accomplished as a fighter, and also hasn’t lost in early 2 years (he’s on an 8-fight unbeaten streak, includes 1 Draw). He submitted Chris Manuel & Ronnie Mann to get here. Kanehara, one of the dark horses coming in, took the slightly easier path to this point, with decisions over Jong Man Kim & Chang Sung Jung. This is basically a fight much like Sandro-Omigawa, not quite booked to win of course but one would think Hioki is the heavy favorite and should win. Certainly will be more competitive than the other semi and a little closer, but Hioki should pull it out and take the decision win and set up a solid Hioki-Sandro final if both can continue.
Prediction: Hioki by unanimous/majority decision.
FWGP Finals: Sandro-Omigawa winner vs. Hioki-Kanehara winner
Akihiro Gono vs. Dan Hornbuckle
Records: Gono 29-14-7, Hornbuckle 17-2
Will he or won’t he? That’s the question here. I of course refer to Gono’s memorable and downright hilarious ring entrance at his last fight at UFC 94. Gono & co. came out dressed up as a Japanese version of The Supremes, complete with sparkly dresses & afros in perhaps the most memorable moment of the night. Of course Gono would lose the fight but the entrance quickly became immortalized in video clips & GIFs all over the net. It was Gono’s second loss in a row so he was gono…er, gone from UFC afterwards. His opponent here, Hornbuckle, makes his second appearance in Sengoku, his first one was at Sengoku 2 where he was submitted by Mike Pyle. Beyond that fight he’s mostly stuck to smaller promotions so very few people have probably heard of him. That makes this one a little tougher to call, Hornbuckle looks good on paper but he’s never really fought anyone of Gono’s caliber. Of course the story here will be Gono’s ring entrance and if perhaps he again brings the ‘fro to the weigh-ins, that will overshadow the fight if he duplicate the entry feat. As for the fight, Gono should bounce back from 2 losses in a row with a decision win.
Prediction: Gono by unanimous/majority decision.
Yoshihiro Nakao vs. Mu Bae Choi
Records: Nakao 7-2, 2 NC, Choi 9-3
Anytime we mention Nakao the conversation always includes the infamous “Kiss” incident that’s his nickname and has defined his career. If you’ve never seen or heard of it, it was at K-1 Dynamite!! 2005 pre-fight during the instructions and staredown with opponent Heath Herring. Nakao actually kissed Herring. Herring kissed Nakao back…good night with his fists. Nakao was out before it even began and thus it was declared a No Contest. He’s gone 3-2 career since, 1-1 in Sengoku (KO’d Jim York, TKO’d by Antonio Silva although Nakao was injured during the fight). Choi is also 1-1 in Sengoku, losing to Marcio Cruz then beating Dave Herman in what was considered an upset here in the US (Herman was widely viewed as a rising Heavyweight prospect before EliteXC collapsed). It’s another even fight on paper and the Japanese audience will enjoy it, but it’s one I wouldn’t be too interested in beyond seeing the “Kiss KO” footage replayed again. That being said, I’ll take Nakao by decision in the fight.
Prediction: Nakao by unanimous/majority decision.
Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Clay French
Records: Mitsuoka 15-6-2, French 17-5
Lightweights in action here, both could really use a win. Mitsuoka is 3-1 in Sengoku, the only loss coming to Satoru Kitaoka in the Lightweight GP Finals, so a win here could perhaps get him closer to a rematch with Kitaoka, and possibly a title fight pending how other fights play out. Over the last 3 years Mitsuoka has quietly gone 8-2 with a notable decision win over Joachim Hansen. French also has a loss to Kitaoka on his record, that came in the LWGP as well. French won in his last fight in June to stop what had been a 3-fight losing streak that snapped an 8-fight win streak. 2 submission guys going at it here and they’re both good at it, but here’s what tells the tale: French always seems to have trouble with top-tier guys. Here’s who he’s lost to: Kitaoka, Takanori Gomi, and Shinya Aoki among others, and his most notable win to date is Mac Danzig in January ’07. He might be good but Mitsuoka is a little better, and it’ll show when French taps late in the fight.
Prediction: Mitsuoka by 3rd round submission/tapout.
Kazuo Misaki vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
Records: Misaki 21-9-2, 1 NC, Nakamura 13-9
Misaki is the #8 Middleweight in the World.
There’s a rather interesting storyline to the title implications this fight now has. Originally it was going to be the winner getting the first shot at Sengoku Middleweight Champion Jorge Santiago. Now, not necessarily: Because Misaki was recently arrested and pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Tokyo, he’ll still fight here but gets nothing win or lose (his fight purse goes to charity) and he will be suspended indefinitely after the fight. So even if he wins, he’s lost his title shot. But if Nakamura wins, he’ll get the title shot. Both would want it as in their last respective fights, both lost to Santiago (Misaki’s fight was to crown the inaugural MW Champion). Looking by their records it’s safe to say that this one probably is going the distance, the real question is, considering he gets no money and no title shot and may not be fighting for some time after this, how motivated will Misaki be? All he can really do is deny Nakamura a title shot. That being said, he’s got more than enough to beat Nakamura so he’ll do so, but how impressively will warrant watching.
Prediction: Misaki by unanimous/majority decision.
Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Blagoi Ivanov
Records: Fujita 15-7, Ivanov No Record (Debut).
Special attraction fight here. Fujita’s always divided his time between MMA & pro wrestling, but hasn’t done well in MMA recently-he’s alternated wins & losses his last 5 fights and is coming off a loss. As for Ivanov, remember earlier on in the Affliction preview when I said Fedor recently lost in combat sambo? This is why he’s here-he is the one who beat Fedor. That’s about all that’s known about Ivanov, but sambo is one thing-this is MMA. Completely different. It’s hard to judge guys making their debuts here so I have to make a cautious pick here, I typically take the experienced guy by decision unless i have reason to believe otherwise. I don’t. So I go “safe” here.
Prediction: Fujita by unanimous/majority decision.
Main Event: Sengoku Lightweight Champion Satoru Kitaoka vs. Mizuto Hirota for the title
Records: Kitaoka 25-8-9, Hirota 11-3-1
This will be the first time a Sengoku title has been defended, so it’s a significant fight for both Sengoku & Kitaoka. Although he was already fairly well-known to Japanese fans, Sengoku clearly has been his coming-out party: 6 wins in 6 fights, 5 by first-round submission, and one of those wins was against Gomi. He’s quckly become the ace of the promotion. Doesn’t hurt he’s tough to finish-in fact, he’s only been KO’d once (in only 5 seconds) and never submitted. Hirota originally wasn’t suppsed to get the first shot, it was thought that Kazunori Yokota would after defeating Hirota at Sengoku 6…apparently plans changed. Since that loss Hirota fought Katsuya Inoue to a Draw then TKO’d Mitsuhiro Ishida in Shooto. Unfortunately for Hirota this is almost a mismatch-Kitaoka has only been a monster since coming to Sengoku. Hirota winning could be considered a big upset, and it’s gonna take quite the Omigawa-type feat for that to happen. Actually, lasting 2 minutes would be impressive, as if that trend continues it won’t be that long before Kitaoka submits him and retains the title.
Prediction: Kitaoka by 1st round submission/tapout.
Because the event will start at something like 3-4 AM I likely won’t be able to do live results, but I will get quick results up ASAP the morning of the event, likely by 9 AM ET.