World Victory Road Announces ‘Sengoku’

By Taro Kotani Nov 27, 2007
TOKYO, Nov. 27 -- Newly formed mixed martial arts promotional company World Victory Road Inc. officially announced its first show for the new event "Sengoku" will take place March 5, 2008 at the Yoyogi First National Gymnasium.

Naoya Kinoshita, CEO for WVR, introduced the name "Sengoku" saying that it was selected from the 10,211 fan submissions of the event name. The word Sengoku consists of two Chinese characters "Sen" and "Goku" with "Sen" literally translating into "Fight" and "Goku" into "Master."

The brand new name suits perfectly with the concept of the event, which Kinoshita described as "a place for masters of martial artists to show their spirit and pride to compete for the strongest in the world."

"We want the passion for MMA to return to Japan because this is where the sport began. We were looking for a name that symbolizes Japan," he added.

Other names that were taken into consideration of the new event were Bushido, Samurai, and Spirit.

Fighters who will be participating in the Sengoku show in March were in attendance. Among those were Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures), Sanae Kikuta (Pictures), Makoto Takimoto (Pictures), and Ryo Kawamura (Pictures). All four fighters said they appreciated the offer from the new organization.

"I am glad to have this opportunity. I want to bring back the passion for MMA," said Yoshida. Kikuta followed by saying "GRABAKA has made sensations in various rings. We want to create another sensation at Sengoku."

Takimoto calmly insisted that he wishes to fight with enthusiasm for fans to enjoy. Kawamura, although he showed his appreciation for the offer, said he would like to concentrate on his scheduled fight at Pancrase on Dec. 22.

Fights for their first show will be announced at a later date. Kinoshita said negotiations are underway with other top class Japanese and foreign fighters.

No contracts will be exclusive with Sengoku, allowing fighters to compete in various organizations.

"I want the fighter to have many opportunities," Kinoshita commented. "We would like to have fighters who are fighting in other rings to fight at Sengoku. At the same token, we want to see Sengoku fighters to be able to compete in other places as well."

Sengoku promoters are planning to set up championship fights for each weight class in 2008. Television deals and sponsors are in the works but nothing was made public.

Sengoku will consist of a total of six weight classes:
Heavyweight (205 pounds and above)
Light Heavyweight (205 pounds)
Middleweight (183 pounds)
Welterweight (167 pounds)
Lightweight (149.9 pounds)
Featherweight (132 pounds)

"I understand 65 kg (143 pounds) or 70 kg (154 pounds) is the familiar" limit for lightweight, said Kinoshita. "I would like to see Japanese fighters flourish and to do so we needed to put a lot of insights in setting the proper weight class. Even though the lightweight division is currently set up at 68 kg, we are planning to add weight classes in the future. Therefore we may shift to the accustomed weight class."

General rules for the event will be a mix between North America's Unified Rules and PRIDE as well as HERO'S regulations.

Fights will consist of three five-minute rounds except for championship bouts, which will be five rounds. Knees on the ground and stomping will be permitted while elbows and "soccer" kicks will not be allowed under any circumstances.

Kinoshita mentioned that the rules were made after discussions with Tomiaki Fukuda, president of the Japan Mixed Martial Arts Federation, and various fighters as to what should and should not be permitted to bring out the best of fighting.

Yoshida and Kikuta explained that a five-minute round suits them better than the 10-minute round once used by PRIDE because the fighters would not have to save stamina and fight tentatively in longer rounds.

Five Sengoku shows are scheduled for 2008. Dates and venues will be announced at later date.
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