Officials with World Victory Road’s Sengoku promotion officially announced Friday that EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva will debut for the promotion on Jan. 4 during its Sengoku 7 event to be held at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
According to the promotion, Silva’s opponent will be Yoshihiro Nakao, who is best known to fans in the U.S. for earning a disqualification victory after being dropped from a punch by Heath Herring during a pre-fight staredown. Nakao instigated the punch by kissing Herring on the lips in a moment that lives on to this day in YouTube infamy.
Silva has not competed since winning EliteXC‘s then-vacant heavyweight title on July 26 in Stockton, Calif. during the promotion’s “Unfinished Business” event. Facing former UFC heavyweight title challenger Justin Eilers, the man known as “Big Foot”was declared victorious following a TKO stoppage at 0:19 of round 2.
Silva’s move to Sengoku will come with some controversy, as in August, Silva was suspended following the Eilers bout after the California State Athletic Commission claimed he had tested positive for the steroid Boldenone.
After an October appeal was upheld, Silva’s one-year suspension remains in effect and would likely be recognized by any state athletic commission in the United States. However, most Japan-based promotions do not honor suspensions handed down to fighters by athletic commissions in the U.S. By choosing to fight for Sengoku, Silva could hurt his chances of reinstatement when he’s eligible to re-apply for a license next July.
In addition to Silva vs. Nakao, other bouts set for Sengoku 7 include Takanori Gomi vs. Satoru Kitaoka for the vacant Sengoku lightweight title; Kazuo Misaki vs. Jorge Santiago for the vacant Sengoku middleweight championship; and heavyweight headliner between Hidehiko Yoshida and Sanae Kikuta.