How will ten months of ring rust affect middleweight ace Jorge Santiago? Photo by Daniel Herbertson for Sherdog.
With the promotion's understated-yet-important tenth show still a few weeks off, World Victory Road has officially announced the addition of three big names to the bill for its "Sengoku 11" event at the Ryogoku Kokugikan on November 7th.
Jorge Santiago (21-7) will appear to the Sengoku ring for the first time since January, when the American Top Team product captured the vacant middleweight title with a dramatic come-from-behind submission of Kazuo Misaki. A rematch with the "Grabaka Hitman" would have welcomed Santiago back from his layoff - which was due to myriad arm and shoulder troubles - but Misaki was suspended immediately after his August win over Kaz Nakamura thanks to a well-documented run-in with a Tokyo traffic cop. Thus, Santiago's paper thin division is left without an immediate challenger, though the Joe Doerksen/Takenori Sato scrap at Sengoku 10 could change that. After the longest inactive period of his fighting career, maybe a tune-up fight wouldn't be such a bad thing for Santiago anyway.
PRIDE veteran and current Strikeforce signee Kevin Randleman (17-13) will also make a return to Sengoku, having not fought for the promotion since its second event in May of last year. Talk emerged on Thursday that the "Monster" could face the undefeated "King Mo" Lawal (5-0), a fellow former NCAA wrestling champion.
Indeed, a web banner released by Sengoku this week features Lawal front and center, along with Satoru Kitaoka, Akihiro Gono and Eiji Mitsuoka.
Finally, Yoshida Dojo's Michihiro Omigawa (7-8-1) will attempt to even his record to .500 against an as-yet-unnamed opponent. The cat lover's Cinderella run in the 2009 Featherweight Grand Prix came to a halt when Masenori Kanehara topped Omigawa via unanimous decision in the finals, which Omigawa reached thanks to a highly controversial split with Marlon Sandro in the semifinals earlier that evening.
Other potential bouts for this card include the debut of blue chip prospect Satoshi Ishii, the return of BJJ phenom Xande Ribeiro, and the winner of Sengoku 10's Antonio Silva/Jim York bout taking on Josh Barnett for the company's inaugural heavyweight title.