This Fan Post was promoted to the front page by Nick Thomas.
Sengoku VII began a tad late for fans as there was a delay of the start of the event, but that allowed some fans to tune in for some of the final fights of the event at the wee hours of the dawn this morning. The event featured a Featherweight Grand Prix that produced some fantastic bouts as well as some non-tournament bouts that didn't disappoint. The event results are as follows:
Nick Denis def. Seiya Kawahara via TKO (Strikes) at 2:36 of Round 1
Ronnie Mann def. Tetsuya Yamada via Unanimous Decision
Chan Sung Jung def. Shintaro Ishiwatari via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:29 of Round 1
Masanori Kanehara def. Jong Man Kim via Unanimous Decision
Marlon Sandro def. Matt Jaggers via Technical Submission (Standing Side Choke) at 2:57 of Round 2
Michihiro Omigawa def. L.C. Davis via Unanimous Decision
Jim York def. James Thompson via KO (Punch) at 4:33 of Round 1
Nam Phan def. Hideki Kadowaki via KO (Punch) at 3:09 of Round 1
Hatsu Hioki def. Chris Manuel via Submission (Triangle Armbar) at 4:12 of Round 1
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal def. Ryo Kawamura via Unanimous Decision
The overall attraction to the event by a lot of hardcore fans was the fact that a lot of up-and-coming talent would get a chance to prove themselves against veteran talent, and it surely gave us a barometer on where each fighter stands.
Nick Denis vs. Seiya Kawahara: The bout went as predicted with Denis's size and range winning most of the exchanges. He was quick to the punch, able to counter Kawahara's punches with quick jabs, and worked the clinch effectively. Kawahara had an obvious reach disadvantage, but that didn't stop him from pressing forward for the knockout.
Denis was impressive in this performance in a number of areas. His clinch work was phenomenal in that he was absolutely dominating Kawahara against the ropes and in exchanges with knees. The power he displayed in the clinch by physically moving Kawahara where he wanted him to be was a pleasant surprise. After dropping Kawahara with a solid right head kick, it was only a matter of time before he put an end to this bout.
Denis will have some problems in the later rounds of the tournament when his ground game will be put to the test, and he won't have the luxury of a reach advantage against taller competition, but Sengoku would likely want to put him against another striker to produce a standup war. Impressive performance by Nick Denis.
Ronnie Mann def. Tetsuya Yamada: It was clear from the early round that Mann's experience was going to be a huge test for Yamada. We can take some pluses from Yamada out of this fight though. He showed some decent striking, good shots for the takedowns, and his ground game was actually fairly active. Mann was able to slip the strikes, stuff the takedowns, and had the experience edge on the ground to counter anything Yamada could offer. For only Yamada's fourth professional bout, he has a bright future.
Mann was effective on the ground and in Yamada's guard. He was able to land strikes, maintain an active offense, and easily escape submission attempts while pounding on Yamada. His base standup game coupled with his ground experience will make him a tough challenge for anyone in this tournament.
Chan Sung Jung def. Shintaro Ishiwatari: Ishiwatari was definitely the better striker in this fight, but he was narrowly missing explosive strikes when Jung came forward. This very well could have ended differently. Jung showed some good aggression, although his striking wasn't technical in the sense that he kept his hands low when coming forward. On the plus side, Ishiwatari wasn't great at countering Jung's desperate attempts to land a downing blow.
Jung's standup needs improvement. He was wild at times, but he did manage to drop Ishiwatari with a desperate strike late into a wild rush that hit the button. After a brief ground exchange, Jung took Ishiwatari's back while standing and sunk in a choke. Gutsy performance by Jung, but I wouldn't bet on him lasting too far into the Grand Prix with such wild standup.
VIDEO of fights after the jump...
-- photo via allelbows.com
Masanori Kanehara def. Jong Man Kim: Kanahera worked some very solid leg kicks early, but for the most part, was able to fend off any attacks that Kim could muster using his reach advantage. Kanehara was more dominant on the floor, and Kim couldn't manage to get any reversals with the exception of one exchange that ended with him in top control. Kanehara easily reversed it.
Kanehara should be a tough competitor in the Grand Prix, but he didn't show me much in terms of finishing ability. He could make a later round fight tough for his opponent, but he isn't overly great in any one area.
Marlon Sandro def. Matt Jaggers: Marlon Sandro worked a quintessential Sandro gameplan. He smothered Matt Jaggers for most of the matchup by switching levels in the standup and taking down Jaggers at will. Jaggers actually had some impressive guard and posture defense, and Sandro was having some big problems trying to posture up to punch Jaggers, but Jaggers was still unable to work any type of offense while on his back for most of the round. Jaggers had a great reversal in the first round, but Sandro easily put Jaggers back in his place.
Although Sandro wasn't overly impressive in the offensive arena, he was able to slip in a slick standing choke that finished this fight. His striking was relatively the same as many of his past performances, but he mostly used it to setup takedowns. I'd be hesitant to think Sandro won't try to work the same gameplan in his next GP performance. He was absolutely dominating on the floor in terms of control.
Michihiro Omigawa def. L.C. Davis: This was a fight in which you just watched it in awe of how dominating Omigawa's judo was along the ropes. Davis looked overpowered against the ropes against the smaller Omigawa, and Omigawa's standup was decent when coupled with the footwork he was displaying. Davis stood rather still in some of the exchanges, and Omigawa would simply throw jabs to setup clinches.
Davis was absolutely disappointing, and it's another fight in which a massive favorite just didn't show up to fight. Omigawa was actually impressive in using his judo along the ropes, and it could be an effective tool in this tournament. Omigawa's chances aren't exactly great considering a lot of the talent remaining will be able to counter him on the floor, but he did manage to knock off one of the better fighters in this tournament.
Jim York def. James Thompson: It may be time for Thompson to dump the "Gong & Dash". Once the opening bell rang, Thompson dashed at York... completely missing him and hitting the ropes. A torrid exchange ensued that saw Thompson eventually dropped, but he countered by trying to take York down. The fight progressively became a slugfest, but York eventually countered a Thompson strike with one of his own that ended the fight. A casual fan's dream of a fight with both guys going for the knockout throughout the battle.
Nam Phan def. Hideki Kadowaki: Surprise! That's all I could think of when watching this bout. Early on, Kadowaki's reach was a problem for Phan as he was landing more jabs in many of the exchanges, but Phan's determination during his offensive rushes paid off as he landed a lunging strike that put Kadowaki down for the count.
I wouldn't rely on Phan's standup to push him deep into this tournament, but he has a lot of experience and a solid ground game to counter a lot of the more talented ground guys left in this tournament.
Hatsu Hioki def. Chris Manuel: Manuel didn't stand much of a chance against the larger, lengthier Hatsu Hioki in this opening round bout. Manuel would have needed some heavy power punches to really put the hurt on Hioki, and Hioki actually looked great on the floor against Manuel. Hioki used his size to basically manhandle Manuel on the floor.
Hioki had a lot going for him in this fight. He came in with a solid gameplan of working his strengths on the floor, no stubbornness in sight. He was able to easily get full mount early, and as Manuel tried to get to his feet, jumped his back, sunk in the body triangle, and made things very difficult early. Once to the feet, Manuel would easily get eaten up by the clinch and tripped back to the floor where Hioki was just dominating. Solid win for Hioki, making his presence known to the rest of the field.
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal def. Ryo Kawamura: Lawal's cardio was tested in this fight more than any of his other skills. Kawamura had no real skill that could finish Lawal. His exchanges were more like wild, desperate attempts to land something, and Lawal would simply change levels and plow through Kawamura. For most of the fight, Kawamura hugged the corner post trying to get the referee to break up the lovefest in the corner for some standup, but Kawamura would rush forward and be immediately taken down once again.
Lawal showed some outstanding wrestling in this bout. His power is formidable to almost anyone in the weight class, and for a guy who weighed in around the same weight as Kawamura, he looked massive in comparison when the bout started. His striking wasn't anything to get excited about, but it was enough to fend off Kawamura and work the takedown. We can at least know that Lawal's gas tank is enough to take him into the late rounds with still some vigor in his performance.
Overall Observations: The Featherweight Grand Prix has some solid matchups that could happen in the next round after tonight's bouts. Denis could essentially be setup with another solid striking bout that he could once again take a win. Someone like Jung or Kanehara would be a nice fit, and Jung could get highlight reel KO'd if he tries to wildly strike like he did against Ishiwatari.
It'll be interesting to see who Sengoku matches Sandro, Hioki, and Mann against as they look to be the favorites coming out of the round with Hioki remaining top dog. Sandro wasn't overly impressive in working strikes from the top, but Jaggers may be the reason. He was very good at maintaining posture control.
Mann could be a dark horse pick in this tournament. While his opponent was very green in the sport, Mann's technical base in both the striking game and ground game could present big problems for some of the better fighters. I think Hioki would have an easier time with almost anyone in this tournament though due to his reach and skill on the floor.
Betting: It wasn't a night for upset picks. Yamada and Kadowaki both sunk me some money, but the parlay of Jung, Kanehara, and Denis paid out big. Losing a little on the underdog possibilites and making it back and then some on the parlay is normally a UFC card ordeal, but it's a welcome sight on this card.
Seiya Kawamura vs. Nick Denis
Tetsuya Yamada vs. Ronnie Mann
Chan Seong Jeong vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari
Jong Man Kim vs. Masanori Kanehara
Matt Jaggers vs. Marlon Sandro
Michihiro Omigawa vs. L.C. Davis
James Thompson vs. Jim York
Hideki Kadowaki vs. Nam Phan
Chris Manuel vs. Hatsu Hioki
King "Mo" Lawal vs. Ryo Kawamura