by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
“King Mo” Muhammed
Lawal vs. Ryo Kawamura
Highly eccentric “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal faces off with
light heavyweight King of Pancrase Ryo Kawamura in the main event. Lawal was a
virtually unknown commodity heading into his mixed martial arts debut against
the seasoned Travis Wiuff last year, but has since then become one of the
hottest undefeated prospects in the sport today. Kawamura has become known for
his entertaining stand-up oriented style that’s made him one of Japan’s better
Lawal has the advantage on the ground with his excellent
wrestling pedigree and has shown enormous power on the feet, but he might want
to play it safe against the skilled striker. Kawamura’s best chance to win the
fight will be to keep it on the feet and use his technique to outshine Lawal,
while avoiding his power shots. Overall, Lawal has the edge in the fight
because he has more tools than Kawamura.
GP Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Chris Manuel
Longtime Shooto standout Hatsu Hioki faces off with American
Top Team instructor Chris Manuel. This is an interesting fight because Hioki is
the presumed tournament favorite, while Manuel is a touted prospect who could
pose a serious threat to Hioki.
Hioki should be the better fighter on the ground because of
his natural grappling ability, but Manuel is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt
and should be able to hold his own. The key in the fight will be who can better
adjust on the feet. Hioki will have an enormous reach advantage and if he can
keep Manuel at bay then he’ll be able to pepper him with low kicks. Manuel will
have to try to get on the inside and swarm Hioki to do any real damage. Either
way, the fight should be a back and forth affair between two talented fighters.
GP Bout: Hideki Kadowaki vs. Nam Phan
Former Shooto lightweight champion Hideki Kadowaki faces off
with Strikeforce standout Nam Phan. This could be one of the better fights of
the night as both fighters are more than capable of putting on an excellent
fight. Phan will be dropping from lightweight to featherweight for the first
time in his career.
Both fighters have their strengths on the ground. Kadowaki
has shown that he can control fighters on the ground, while Phan likes to work
for submissions. If the fight stays on the feet, then Phan will have the
advantage because he is the better striker of the two. The key in the fight
will be if Phan can defend the takedown and keep the fight on the feet, where
he has the better chance to win.
James Thompson vs.
In what is guaranteed to be a slugfest, British powerhouse
James Thompson faces off with Australian Jim York. Both fighters are in need of
a win, so expect them to come out guns a blazing. If the fight turns into a
brawl, an advantage would have to go to York due to the fact that Thompson has
a suspect chin. Don’t expect the fight to go to the ground. These two will
trade on the feet for the enjoyment of the Japanese fans.
Bout: Michihiro Omigawa vs. LC Davis
Former UFC lightweight fighter Michihiro Omigawa faces off
with Miletich trained featherweight LC Davis. This is an interesting clash of
styles as Omigawa is an exciting judoka, while Davis is a solid wrestler.
Omigawa is a tough fighter to finish and it won’t be any different in this
fight, but Davis should have the advantage both on the feet and on the ground.
Omigawa’s best chance to win the fight will be to catch Davis in a submission or
clip him on the feet with a surprise power shot.
GP Bout: Marlon Sandro vs. Matt Jaggers
Undefeated Nova Uniao featherweight Marlon Sandro takes on
King of the Cage standout Matt Jaggers. Sandro is the featherweight King of
Pancrase and comes into the fight as a tournament favorite, while Jaggers gets
the biggest opportunity of his career. Sandro has the advantage in every aspect
of the fight, whether it’s on the ground or on the feet. Jaggers’ best chance
to pull off the upset will be to pressure Sandro from the onset and hope to
catch him with a big shot on the feet.
GP Bout: Masanori Kanehara vs. Jong Man Kim
ZST veteran Masanori Kanehara faces off with Korean
featherweight Jong Man Kim. Kanehara has been tearing it up in ZST and now gets
a chance to shine on a big stage. After coming out as a force in the
featherweight division in 2007, Kim struggled to duplicate his success in 2008.
Both fighters like to trade on the feet. If that happens then Kanehara will
have the advantage because of his size and power advantage. Kim will need to
keep the distance on the feet and use his technique to win the fight.
GP Bout: Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Chang Son Jon
In what could turn out to be a total slugfest, Shooto
standout Shintaro Ishiwatari faces off with DEEP veteran Chang Son Jon.
Ishiwatari broke out on the Shooto scene this year after impressive
performances culminating in his thrashing of Tenkei Fujimiya. Jon did the same
in DEEP, thoroughly dominating fellow tournament participant Michihiro Omigawa
in his debut. Out of all the tournament fights, this is probably the most
evenly matched fight and could really go either way.
GP Bout: Tetsuya Yamada vs. Ronnie Mann
The "Super High School Student" Tetsuya Yamada
takes on British featherweight Ronnie Mann. This is another fight between two
young up and coming fighters in a tournament full of youngsters. Yamada is the
youngest fighter, being only 18, but comes in as a touted prospect. Yamada has
the edge on the ground, while Mann has the advantage on the feet. The
difference in the fight will be Mann’s enormous fight experience advantage over
the still novice Yamada, who will be fighting his first full mixed martial arts
fight in the tournament.
GP Bout: Seiya Kawahara vs. Nick Denis
Young Pancrase knockout artist Seiya Kawahara faces off with
King of the Cage bantamweight champion Nick Denis. Both fighters specialize in
the knockout; so expect this fight to be a quick and exciting slugfest between
two young up and comers. Neither fighter has a clear advantage on the feet, as
they both seem to be more then the capable to knock the other out. The key in
the fight will be who the better ground fighter is and that seems to favor
Denis, who trains with former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton.