(Main-eventers Ronnie Mann and Hatsu Hioki. Image courtesy of allelbows.)
Attention insomniacs and members of the undead: HDNet is hooking you up tonight with a live broadcast of "Sengoku Eighth Battle," which kicks off at 3 a.m. ET/midnight PT. Though the card lacks big names, it will feature the quarterfinals of their ongoing featherweight grand prix — and if the fights are as entertaining as the FWGP’s first round, we’ll be in for a treat, so DVR this bitch at the very least. Here’s what the matchups will look like…
The non-tourney bouts were all easy victories for the big names, as Mitsuhiro Ishida used his wrestling to dominate Daisuke Nakamura for 15 minutes, and Tatsuya Kawajiri was able to choke out BJ Penn student Ross Ebanez in the shortest fight of the night. The Shinya Aoki/David Gardner 163-pound feature started out exciting, with the American punishing Aoki with punches to the face after Aoki tried to pull guard, but once Aoki took his back it was only a matter of time before the submission came. Completely trapped, Gardner took a couple opportunites to wave to the audience. I don’t think I need to tell you what happens when you’ve got Aoki on your back and you decide to lift your arm to wave.
Full results are after the jump, followed by videos of the Warren/Beebe and Ishida/Nakamura scraps.
You might have noticed that DREAM 7 will only produce six quarterfinalists for the featherweight GP. The other two will be Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who’s getting a bye to the second round, and the winner of the Daiki Hata/Hideo Tokoro match at DREAM 8 (April 5th, Nagoya, Japan). Unfortunately, Sunday’s event won’t be broadcast on HDNet until next Saturday, but we’ll post the best fights on Sunday and Monday, so stay tuned.
No word yet if Aoki and Sakurai will have to face each other in the first round of the grand prix, but the two fighters previously met at a Shooto event in August 2005, where the far-more-experienced (at the time) Sakurai defeated Aoki by unanimous decision. Aoki went on to win Shooto’s middleweight (168 pounds) championship the next year — which he still technically holds — before dropping to lightweight in 2007. Both men have won their last two fights, with Sakurai winning a decision against Kuniyoshi Hironaka at DREAM 6 last September and scoring a TKO over Katsuyori Shibata at Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve, and Aoki earning quick submission victories over Todd Moore and Eddie Alvarez at the same events.
(Masakazu Imanari during his win over Mike Brown at DEEP 22 in December 2005. Photo courtesy of stephenfactory.)
DREAM’s next multi-event grand prix kicks off at DREAM 7 (March 8th; Saitama, Japan), featuring featherweights; the exact weight limit will be either 63 or 63.5 kilograms, which is closer to 140 pounds than the 145-pound Western definition of the weight class. According to Nightmare of Battle, eleven fighters have been officially announced so far. Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto’s participation is still a question mark, though he’d probably get seeded to the second round if he signs on. Here’s what the field is looking like currently:
Hideo Tokoro: Has had nearly 40 career fights, with three appearances at DREAM events. Most recently lost to Daisuke Nakamura at Dynamite!! 2008 on New Year’s Eve. Holds wins over Alexandre Franca Nogueira and Royler Gracie; once fought Royce Gracie to a draw.
Badr Hari doesn’t seem too concerned about his disqualification loss in the finals of this weekend’s K-1 World GP. In case you missed it, Hari took Remy Bonjasky down, which is already illegal in K-1, but then he decided that as long as he was down there he might as well punch him a couple of times and then stomp on his face. When the interviewer here points out to him that this is “prohibited,” Hari responds: “Yeah, but cycling on the pavement is prohibited too.”
Seriously? That’s his response to illegally attacking an opponent who was under the referee’s care? Apparently Hari didn’t feel that his actions in the fight made him unlikeable enough. No, better go ahead and follow that up with a dismissive statement that reveals your amoral thought process to the world, just to be sure.
The argument that I absolutely don’t buy in this case is that he let his emotions get the better of him because Bonjasky didn’t come to fight. First of all, when Bonjasky dropped him in the first, that seemed an awful lot like fighting. Second, if you get mad in a kickboxing match, why not kick or punch the other guy in the head, torso, or leg region while you’re both standing? It’s an effective expression of anger, and it’s legal!
Then again, if you fight only within the scope of the rules, how is everyone supposed to know what an asshole you are?
(In Trigg’s defense, he had just gotten out of the pool.)
Sengoku’s “Fourth Battle” went down today in Saitama, Japan, featuring the long-awaited returns of Takanori Gomi and Frank Trigg, and the first round of their lightweight grand prix. In a non-tourney main event bout, Gomi faced 5-1 Korean DEEP vet Seung Hwan Bang — who should have been steamrolled by the legendary “Fireball Kid” — but Bang hung in for all three rounds. Eventually, Gomi’s accurate striking and control of the fight’s pace convinced the judges to unanimously give him the win. Trigg’s opponent was Makoto Takimoto, a judoka and PRIDE vet who came into the fight with a 4-4 MMA record, and as with Gomi, the fight was a little more difficult than it should have been. Trigg dominated the standup and inflicted major damage from top positions on the ground, but Takimoto nearly caught Twinkle Toes in a kimura in the second round, and spent a lot of the third on top; still, it wasn’t enough to prevent the judges from giving Trigg the decision after the fight went the distance.
The first round of Sengoku’s lightweight tournament held some surprises as three big names were unceremoniously bounced out of the competition. The HIT Squad’s Clay French was tapped in 31 seconds via achilles lock by former Pancrase mainstay Satoru Kitaoka, and jiu-jitsu ace Rodrigo Damm also suffered a first-round submission at the hands of Eiji Mitsuoka. Former IFL lightweight champ Ryan Schultz, who was the biggest favorite to win his first GP match, got his lights put out by a superman-punch from Cage Force champ Mizuto Hirota in the second round of their fight. Full results after the jump; videos to come.