Jorge Santiago file photo: Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- When the Sengoku Raiden Championship middleweight title is on the line, Jorge Santiago always seems to put forth a dramatic roller coaster of a performance. His SRC 14 rematch with Kazuo Misaki -- whom he defeated with a come-from-behind rear-naked choke in the fifth round to win the title in January 2009 -- was no exception, replete with drubbings, comebacks, and close calls for both men.
Though not typically made available by Japanese promotions, Sherdog.com has obtained the scorecards for this 2010 fight of the year candidate. See below for this exclusive look into how SRC judges were sizing up the fight before its dramatic fifth round ending, as well as an exclusive interview with the champion immediately after the fight. Santiago recaps his thoughts on the bout, Misaki, the scorecards, and what's ahead in his immediate future.
Judges Had Santiago Down on All Three Cards Going into the Fifth
Round one was the closest on the scorecards. Though Misaki scored two takedowns, two of the judges apparently erred on the side of caution, deeming the exchanges on the feet and on the mat as not enough to award the round to either fighter.
Tenshin Matsumoto: 10-10
Ryogaku Wada: 10-10
Masato Fukuda: 10-9 Misaki
The second period clearly belonged to Misaki in the judges' eyes, thanks to the tight guillotine that Santiago only barely managed to escape from.
Matsumoto: 10-9 Misaki (Total: 20-19 Misaki)
Wada: 10-9 Misaki (20-19 Misaki)
Fukuda: 10-9 Misaki (20-18 Misaki)
Due to the head kick, straight-right combo that leveled Misaki early on, the third frame was the only round that all three judges awarded to Santiago. Foiled by the ropes, Santiago couldn't finish the dazed Misaki, and instead attempted a heel hook and to pound Misaki out from guard, while “the Hitman” held on for dear life. Fukuda was the lone judge to not award the champion a two-point round.
Matsumoto: 10-8 Santiago (29-28 Santiago)
Wada: 10-8 Santiago (29-28 Santiago)
Fukuda: 10-9 Santiago (29-28 Misaki)
Clearly his most disastrous round, the champ earned the lowest possible Sengoku scores in the fourth thanks to the red card he earned for moving outside of the ring. This came as a result of Misaki throwing knees to Santiago's head while prone on the mat. Earlier in the round, Misaki had dropped the champ with a left hook and racked up punches on the ground. Santiago rallied to drop Misaki in the last thirty seconds of the period, but it seemed to have no bearing on the cards of judges Matsumoto and Wada.
Matsumoto: 10-7 Misaki (38-36 Misaki)
Wada: 10-7 Misaki (38-36 Misaki)
Fukuda: 10-8 Misaki. (39-36 Misaki)
Quickly attaining mount to get to work smashing the challenger with punches from above, Santiago once hustled to finish the fight in the fifth round. His efforts managed to get Misaki's corner to throw in the towel in the final thirty seconds. Had the towel not been thrown, Santiago would have lost the bout unless he were to have somehow earned a 10-7 round. A more plausible 10-8 round for Santiago would have resulted in a 46-46 draw on both judge Wada and Matsumoto's cards. In SRC, drawn scorecards are given a “must” victor, awarding the fight to whichever fighter the judge felt won the fight, regardless of the scores. With the way the bout finished, it's hard to imagine Wada and Matsumoto not awarding the bout to Santiago, who likely would have won a split decision.