Favorites Become Casualties During Sengoku’s “Ninth Battle”. Superstition plays a large role in certain sports. After today’s World Victory Road event in Saitama, Japan and its total number of bouts – thirteen – Mixed Martial Artists may soon be added to the list of athletes carrying lucky rabbits’ feet while signing on the dotted line to compete.
From both the perspective of fans and bookies, more than one favorite fell at Sengoku “Ninth Battle”, and some did so in devastating fashion.
The promotion’s featherweight grand prix was unfortunately marred by both injury and controversy, as tournament favorite Marlon Sandro inexplicably lost via decision to local favorite Michihiro Omigawa after two of the three ringside officials scored the bout a draw with the third giving a nod to Sandro.
In the other semi-final fight, 20-3 Hatsu Hioki continued his recent string of success (7-0-1 in his previous eight scraps) by unanimously out-pointing Masanori Kanehara but was unable to compete in the championship bout after doctors’ concerns came into play regarding the damage he’d taken in the three-round battle. Eventually, as if fate would have it any other way, Kanehara took home the gold via split decision victory meaning the route involved him first falling in defeat, then beating an opponent who also essentially lost his earlier fight.
It was a difficult night for affable PRIDE icons as well with Kazuyuki “Ironhead” Fujita losing a tough three round decision to the man that handed Fedor Emelianenko his first Combat Sambo loss in years, Blagoi Ivanov. The “L” drops the 38-year old Fujita to 15-8 with three losses in his last four matches, while Ivanov may have been happy to see the fight come to conclusion after his last appearance involved a “No Contest” result due to the ring breaking.
In a scary moment for all involved, Akihiro Gono left the ring on a stretcher after ducking into a brutal headkick from Dan Hornbuckle in the third round. Fortunately, it was later reported Gono was in a hospital, but fine, after suffering a concussion and some damage to his neck. Hornbuckle should receive more attention from fans, promoters, and media types by moving to 16-1 in his last seventeen fights.
In two of the night’s biggest showdowns, Kazuhiro Nakamura was left questioning his immediate future, as the 30-year old dropped to 2-5 in his last seven fights after being locked into a tight Guillotine Choke three minutes into his match-up with “The Grabaka Hitman”, Kazuo Misaki.
Additionally, WVR Lightweight Champion Satoru Kitaoka defended his title for the first and last time against rising striker Mizuto Hirota. After three close rounds, Hirota was able to stuff a number of the champion’s takedown attempts and punish him with knees in the process eventually forcing the referee to stop action and rule in his favor.
Here is a quick rundown of the night’s action…
Ryosuke Komori def. Takeshi Numajiri – TKO – RD 1
Shigeki Osawa def. Toru Harai TKO – RD 1
Ikuo Usuda def. Koji Ando – Judges’ Decision (Unanimous)
Yoshihiro Nakao def. Mu Bae Choi – Judges’ Decision (Unanimous)
Chan Sung Jung def. Matt Jaggers – Submission – RD 2
Eiji Mitsuoka def. Clay French – Submission – RD 1
Dan Hornbuckle def. Akihiro Gono – KO – RD 3
Blagoi Ivanov def. Kazuyuki Fujita – Judges’ Decision (Split)
Kazuo Misaki def. Kazuhiro Nakamura – Submission – RD 1
WVR Featherweight Grand Prix:
Hatsu Hioki def. Masanori Kanehara – Judges’ Decision (Unanimous)
Michihiro Omigawa def. Marlon Sandro – Judges’ Decision (Split)
Masanori Kanehara def. Michihiro Omigawa – Judges’ Decision (Split)
WVR Lightweight Championship:
Mizuto Hirota def. Satoru Kitaoka – TKO – RD 4