Marlon Sandro. Photo courtesy of World Victory Road.
World Victory Road today announced four fights scheduled for their Sengoku “Ninth Battle” event on August 2 in Japan, including the pairings for the one-night semifinal tournament that will crown the promotion’s first-ever featherweight champion.
Undefeated Brazilian prospect Marlon Sandro will be facing upstart Japanese veteran Michihiro Omigawa in one semifinal bout, while tournament favorite Hatsu Hioki will go up against Masanori Kanehara in the other. The winners will end up fighting in the show’s main event.
In addition, Sengoku lightweight champion Satoru Kitaoka will defend his title against slick striker Mizuto Hirota and Kazuo Misaki and Kazuhiro Nakamura will collide in a battle of former PRIDE Fighting Championships standouts that will have the winner face middleweight title holder Jorge Santiago later in the year.
Kitaoka bested the likes of Kazunori Yokota and Eiji Mitsuoka during Sengoku’s inaugural lightweight tourney before scoring a surprising submission of longtime lightweight king Takanori Gomi at Sengoku’s year-end event this past January. Hirota had a breakout year in ‘08, winning three out of four bouts. He most recently stopped Mitsuhiro Ishida with strikes in the first round of their fight at Shooto’s “Final Tradition” show earlier this month.
Misaski last fell to Santiago in a hard-fought, five-round battle in January, succumbing to a last-minute rear-naked choke. He had won his last three bouts prior to the defeat, including a controversial stoppage of Joe Riggs at Strikeforce’s second trip to the Playboy Mansion last fall. Following a disappointing stint in the UFC, Nakamura signed with WVR, where he has posted a 2-1 record, his lone loss also coming at the hands of Santiago.
Sandro has won all fourteen of his professional bouts to start his career. After scoring a second-round submission of Matt Jaggers in the opening round of the tourney, Sandro needed only 19 seconds to knock out previously undefeated Nick Denis earlier this month. Omigawa meanwhile, has played the role of tournament spoiler thus far. Following a lackluster stint in the UFC, Omigawa has now knocked off highly touted featherweights L.C. Davis and Nam Phan in consecutive tourney bouts.
A longtime veteran of the ZST promotion, Kanehara has flown under the radar thus far in the brackets, winning a pair of one-sided unanimous decisions over Chan-Sung Jung and Jong-Man Kim. Hioki, the favorite to win the tournament from the start, has performed as such, earning first round submission wins over Chris Manuel and Ronnie Mann.
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