Few featherweights outside of the UFC are as intriguing as Sengoku 145-pound champ Marlon Sandro, a well-rounded Brazilian who has notched seventeen wins in eighteen professional appearances (with the lone exception being a split-decision loss to Michihiro Omigawa in August 2009).
The 33-year old fighter has exhibited both a polished ground-game and hands heavy enough to render seven of his previous opponents unable to continue over his six-year career, and, according to a conversation with Tatame, may very well be displaying both skill-sets December 31st at K-1’s annual “Dynamite!!” event.
According to Sandro, he expects to be putting his title on the line against 22-4-2 Japanese grappler Hatsu Hioki. Hioki has gone 10-1-1 over the last three years while racking up notable wins over Takeshi Inoue and Rumina Sato. He also holds a victory over UFC featherweight contender Mark Hominick from February 2007.
Sandro, who expressed the bout is not yet official but is probable enough to have him training for five rounds, showed significant respect when referring to Hioki’s ground-skills, saying, “He has great takedowns and good Jiu-Jitsu…he’s a submitter…. Hioki is good on the floor.”
In addition to Sandro’s title-defense against Hioki, other bouts rumored for K-1’s year-end offering include Gegard Mousasi facing famed kickboxer Jerome LeBanner and DREAM featherweight champ Bibiano Fernandes putting his belt on the line against Hiroyuki Takaya.