Hello, Japan: Zombie Sengoku Lurches Onward; Major Upset Atop the Women's MMA Heap

Henry "Sentoryu" Miller, Kiuma Kunioku and Yoshihiro "Kiss" Nakao at this week's Sengoku Raiden Championship press conference. Photo via SRC-Official.

Sengoku Raiden Championship -- "now under new management" -- is slowly piecing together its March 7th return show, to be held at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo hall. Most promising of the three fights announced this week is a welterweight tilt between Akihiro Gono (31-15-7) and Sweden's Diego Gonzalez (13-3, 1 NC). Fresh from his New Year's Eve armbarring of Dream's Hayato Sakurai, the resurgent Gono will be gunning for his third straight win since his infamous KO loss at the hands foot of Dan Hornbuckle. The lesser-known Gonzalez comes in riding an eight-fight win streak which stretches back to May 2006.

In a lightweight bout, Nova Uniao's Leo Santos (6-3) will again try for his first win in Sengoku when he meets ex-Pancrase titlist Kiuma Kunioku (34-22-9); this, despite an earlier report that the two would face Eiji Mitsuoka and Maximo Blanco, respectively. Also added to the slate: a heavyweight throwdown featuring former sumo Henry "Sentoryu" Miller (6-9, 1 NC) and Yoshihiro "Kiss" Nakao (8-2, 2 NC).

And while we're on Sengoku, the promotion held a press conference today to announce their 2010 "SRC Girls." So... enjoy that.

Seven months after earning the right to challenge for the title, Mei "V Hajime" Yamaguchi (6-2) stunned Valkyrie 115-pound champ Yuka Tsuji (22-2) with a 76-second rear-naked choke in the main event of Thursday's all-female offering from Cage Force promoter Greatest Common Multiple. To put the upset in perspective, Jordan Breen likened it to a small-scale Tyson-Douglas.

In avenging her November 2008 loss to the "Vale Tudo Queen," the diminutive Yamaguchi - who also competes in Shootboxing - announced herself as a true threat in the women's lightweight ranks. She also took some lustre off of the long-rumored superfight between Tsuji and pound-for-pound queen Megumi Fujii. "V Hajime" vs. "Mega Megu," anyone?

Up next for Valkyrie: the crowning of their first flyweight champion in the 105-pound mini-tournament finals. Veterans Yasuko Tamada (10-4-3) and Naoko Omuro (11-7-3) will square off this spring, having won their respective semifinal bouts on Thursday.

Photo via Kamipro.

* * *

One more title upset worth mentioning: last weekend, at the first Pancrase outing of 2010, Kiyotaka Shimizu (5-3-1) dethroned Mitsuhisa Sunabe (11-6-3), becoming the second generation Flyweight King of Pancrase and leading to this scene in the ring post-fight, as described by Mr. Tony Loiseleur:

Mitsuhisa Sunabe stands in stunned disbelief as the judges' cards are read off:

Matsumiya: 29 - 29
Umeki/Chiba: 29 - 28 Shimizu
Wada: 29 - 28 Shimizu

This is awkward. Sunabe is just standing there as SK Absolute, Shimizu's team, comes into the ring to bounce Shimizu in their collective arms. Sunabe continues to just stand there, stock-still in the same position, as Shimizu is let down to his feet to paces the ring, crying tears of joy. Shimizu looks for a moment toward Sunabe, perhaps to talk to him, but notices that he's still in catatonic shock.

He tastefully turns away and continues to pace.

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