Fight-by-Fight: Sengoku 8 Grand Prix Preview

Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix Bout:

Hatsu Hioki vs. Ronnie Mann

Shooto veteran Hatsu Hioki faces off with British featherweight wunderkind Ronnie Mann in the main event of the night. Hioki looked like an absolute beast in his domination of Chris Manuel at Sengoku 7, while Mann won a comfortable decision over the talented but inexperienced Tetsuya Yamada. Going into the fight, Hioki must be considered the heavy favorite to win the fight and possibly the tournament.

Both fighters favor the ground game, but Hioki should have a rather comfortable advantage over Mann, who is just simply not as nearly
skilled as Hioki on the ground. Mann’s best chance in the fight will be to keep it standing and out strike Hioki, but he will still be giving up a considerable reach advantage. For Hioki, he’ll want the fight on the ground where he can work his grappling mastery over Mann.


Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix Bout:

Michihiro Omigawa vs. Nam Phan

Japanese judoka Michihiro Omigawa faces off with Strikeforce veteran Nam Phan. This is one of the more intriguing fights of the night, as both fighters have an equal chance to win. Omigawa shocked many when he won a dominating decision over LC Davis, who was considered to be one of the tournament favorites, while Phan looked impressive in his featherweight debut by stopping former Shooto champion Hideki Kadowaki.

Omigawa needs to use the same strategy against Phan that he did against Davis, use his judo to control the fight on the ground and
frustrate Phan. Although Phan isn’t a slouch on the ground, Omigawa does hold a slight advantage over him. Phan needs to keep the fight on the feet, where he can use his superior boxing technique and work over Omigawa to a possible stoppage. Out of all the tournament fights, this is the hardest to predict a winner as both fighters are so evenly matched.


Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix Bout:

Masanori Kanehara vs. Chan Sung Jung

ZST veteran Masanori Kanehara faces off with Korean featherweight wunderkind Chan Sung Jung. This could end up being one of the
more exiting fights of the night. Both fighters like to come forward and that is always the best recipe for excitement. Kanehara comes off a workman like decision victory over Jong Man Kim, while Jung had the fight of the night against Shintaro Ishiwatari in a back and forth brawl that ended with Jung submitting Ishiwatari.

If the fight stays on the feet then expect an all out brawl. Both fighters come forward at all times, but Jung has shown that he has quite a
chin and can pack a lot of power in his strikes. Kanehara can win the stand-up if he stays on the outside and isn’t lured into a brawl, as he can low kick all night long to frustrate Jung. If the fight hits the ground then neither has much of an advantage over the other, as they are equally good on the ground. The outcome of the fight simply depends on whether or not the fight turns into a brawl or a slower technical affair.


Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix Bout:

Marlon Sando vs. Nick Denis

Featherweight King of Pancrase Marlon Sandro faces off with King of the Cage champion Nick Denis. Both fighters are undefeated, but after it’s all said and done, one of these young prospects will have a blemish on his record. Sandro imposed his ground expertise over Matt Jaggers at Sengoku 7, finally finishing him off with a standing side choke. Denis looked impressive in battering Seiya Kawahara to a stoppage via strikes.

From the onset, it’s fairly obvious that each fighter has a distinct advantage over the other in his area of expertise. If the fight goes to the ground then Sandro has the advantage with his grappling pedigree. If the fight stays on the feet, Denis has the advantage because of his extensive stand-up background. Denis is the more explosive of the two, so if the fight is high paced it will benefit him. Sandro will look to slow the pace and impose his technical prowess on Denis. Either way, whichever fighter comes out victorious in this one will have to be considered a favorite to win the tournament.