Yoshida Subs Smith at Sengoku 3

By Stephen Martinez Jun 8, 2008
SAITAMA, Japan -- World Victory Road hosted its third Sengoku event Sunday before a half-filled Saitama Super Arena.

Advertising and hype surrounding the event seemed to be extremely low, which was reflected by the attendance. The young promotion's fights went off largely without a hitch, though, and its lightweight and heavyweight divisions are gaining strength with every show.

Headliner Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures) is clearly not a master of the Internet. He could find no video footage of former UFC heavyweight champ Maurice Smith (Pictures), but that did not prevent him from ending Smith's comeback win streak.

The 46-year-old's hands caused Yoshida problems on his first takedown attempt, though the second attempt was successful for the Olympic gold medalist. Sporting a new gi, Yoshida hit the ground, moved to scarf control and turned it into a neck crank to force the tap at 2:33 of the first round. The win was badly needed for Yoshida, who is carrying a lot of the responsibility for Sengoku's success.

MMA fans need to think of a new nickname for Kazuyuki "Ironhead" Fujita.

Travis Wiuff (Pictures), coming off a tournament win at Yamma Pit Fighting, is not known for his strikes, but he knocked out the Inoki disciple in 1:24 with what looked like a relatively weak left jab followed by some hammerfists. The left looked like it was intended to set up the right that followed, but it was enough to knock down Fujita.

Although he sported an excellent ginger beard, Logan Clark (Pictures)'s game plan against Kazuo Misaki (Pictures) left much to be desired. The path to victory against Misaki was clearly laid out by Frank Trigg (Pictures) and Paulo Filho (Pictures), and it matched perfectly with Clark's skill set. However, Clark's insistence to strike with the counterpunching judoka led to his demise.

Right from the onset, Clark pressed forward with combinations as he literally ran at Misaki. Time and time again, though, the Grabaka Hitman was able to avoid and counter. Aside from a last-ditch effort to throw Misaki, Clark opted to continue with his flawed game plan for the duration of the fight.

Despite some nice stomps near the end of the fight, Misaki was never close to finishing the "Pink Pounder." The Japanese fighter seemed to lack the will to finish, but his performance convinced the judges to award him the unanimous decision.

Nick Thompson (Pictures) and Michael Costa (Pictures), who had clashed heads at the news conference, had a back-and-forth bout resulting in a comeback win for the Minnesota native. Thompson looked dangerous with submissions early when he countered a takedown with a kimura attempt, which he turned into an armbar attempt. The efforts bore no fruit, though, and the round ended.

In the second Costa threw a spinning kick combo straight out of "Tekken." Although the combination didn't connect, a hook later in the round from "The Pimp" sent Thompson off to the fairies until his head hit the mat and seemed to wake him back up. The Chute Boxer was unable to finish off Thompson, however, and was put back in guard and then reversed.

After taking a moment to collect himself, Thompson successfully applied a kimura from side control and rotated the arm so far behind Costa's back that he will likely never have another itch he can't scratch. The tap came at 4:13, though the fight did not go as smoothly as "The Goat" would have liked.

Sanae Kikuta (Pictures) took care of Englishman Chris Rice (Pictures) without incident, as expected. Rice entered the ring dressed as the grim reaper, which got a reaction from the audience, but that's about as positive as things got for him.

After missing one sloppy takedown attempt, Kikuta secured the second and then quickly moved to mount. Rice was unable to buck off Kikuta and had to resort to pushing him off with his hands, which the Grabaka boss capitalized on with an armbar at 3:54 in the first.

Mu Bae Choi (Pictures) was too slow and lacked the skill to defeat one of the best BJJ practitioners in MMA today. Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz made easy work of the Korean wrestler, landing some awkward strikes before the bout hit the mat.

Once it was in Pe de Pano's domain, it was only a matter of time. He quickly used an underhook from half guard to escape to Choi's back, where he worked for a submission with a cross face and then strikes. The referee let the bout continue while Cruz landed dozens of clean strikes to the Korean, who just lay in the fetal position, not defending himself or attempting to escape.

Realizing that his opponent was simply impossible to stop or knock out, Cruz used back control to go to a slick reverse triangle, forcing his calf muscle under the iron jaw of Choi. Rather than trying to get a tap with the awkward submission, Cruz instead rolled around to the bottom into a regular triangle and then straightened the arm for an armbar at 4:37.

With the win, Cruz solidified his status as a contender in one of the most intriguing heavyweight divisions in the sport. If Fujita's recent comments are accurate, Sengoku could host an excellent tournament later in the year that would feature the likes of Josh Barnett (Pictures), Jeff Monson (Pictures), Roger Gracie (Pictures), Marcio Cruz (Pictures), Travis Wiuff (Pictures), Kevin Randleman (Pictures) and of course the standard Japanese contingent with Hidehiko Yoshida (Pictures), Kazuyuki Fujita (Pictures) and Yoshihiro Nakao (Pictures).

Rodrigo Damm again chose not to employ his ground game against Jorge Masvidal (Pictures), and the strategy paid off when he scored a controversial knockout in the second. Apart from the finish, the fight was quite slow with Masvidal controlling the center of the ring but not being aggressive. Damm worked from the outside, though he was coming up short against the taller fighter.

The finish came in the middle of another reasonably slow round. Damm connected with a cross for a flash knockout. "Gamebred" was working on recovering his guard and was clearly awake when the ref called the fight, much to the dismay of American Top Team's premier Internet fighting star.

Damm was ecstatic with the win and proceeded to call out Takanori Gomi (Pictures), who was sitting ringside. Gomi waved off the challenge, however, and refused to comment. The rumored upcoming lightweight tournament is a more likely route if the Brazilian wants a shot at "The Fireball Kid."

Fabio Silva (Pictures) out-struck veteran Yoshiki Takahashi (Pictures), knocking him out with a knee 24 seconds into the second round. There was some back-and-forth action on the feet, and although Silva wasn't technical, the Chute Boxe product got the job done.
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