The 'Soul of Fight' cast gather at Ariake Coliseum | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- All fighters barring Taisuke Okuno made weight for Sengoku Raiden Championships’ all-day fight festival, “Soul of Fight,” going down Thursday at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.
Filling in as a late replacement for Bellator veteran Dan Hornbuckle, Okuno weighed in at 176 pounds for his showdown against UFC and Pride veteran Ryo Chonan. As a penalty, Okuno will enter the welterweight bout with two red cards, World Victory Road officials informed Sherdog.com.
Aside from Okuno’s absence, most of the event’s 56 participants were in attendance for the pre-fight presser, which was held in the Coliseum, where work crews busily constructed the ring and entry ramp behind the gathered press. Because of this unique venue choice, most of the fighters were not only dressed in their Sunday best, but also in coats and scarves to fend off the cold in the vast, unheated arena.
Saying what was ostensibly on everyone’s minds -- and coming up with the line that most of the other fighters would end up stealing for their own comments -- Maximo Blanco stated, “It’s extremely cold in here, so I’ll put on a hot fight tomorrow. Look forward to it.”
Main-eventers Hatsu Hioki and Marlon Sandro, meanwhile, kept their comments brief and classy.
“It’s a real honor to be the main event. To have the chance to stand here amongst fighters like Buakaw [Por. Pramuk], [Kazuo] Misaki, and everyone else makes me a very happy man. I, of course, plan to have a good fight and make this a great event,” said Sengoku and Pancrase featherweight champion Sandro.
Shooto 143-pound champion Hioki echoed Sandro’s sentiments, giving Sandro himself particular credit.
“Because it’s Marlon Sandro I’ll be facing tomorrow, we’ll be able to show the fans some incredible MMA. Please look forward to it,” Hioki said.
At the earlier title-bout signing ceremony, the champion claimed to have no pressing concerns over this being his first five-round title defense.
“It’s my first defense, so I’ve trained hard for it. I’ve never thought about having to defend the title before, since I’m always focusing on my opponent. Five five-minute rounds is indeed a long time, but I’m not very concerned about it. I’m going to give it my all,” said Sandro.
“I didn’t think much about the belt. I’m focusing on Sandro, who is an outstanding fighter. As for five-round title fights, I’ve already done those in TKO. It’ll be difficult, but I have confidence I can go the distance,” said the challenger, referencing his own experience fighting for and defending the featherweight title in the now-defunct, Montreal-based TKO promotion.
While Sandro vowed to finish the fight early, a nervous Hioki claimed with a chuckle, “I have to watch out that I don’t get finished early. Out of all the fighters I’ve faced, Sandro has the best record. It’ll be tough, but if I survive the early moments, I think I’ll have a chance.”
Elsewhere, Yoshiro Maeda was in high spirits while waving the flag for his native promotion, Dream.
“I’m real proud to be one of the three co-promoted bouts tomorrow, and I promise to put up a brutal fight that’ll fill everyone’s bellies and satisfy. I’m going to kill tomorrow!” Maeda cheerfully yelled into the microphone.
Megumi Fujii tied her upcoming bout with Emi Fujino to the coming New Year’s Eve feasts that await most Japanese on Dec 31.
“All I’m thinking of for tomorrow is a knockout or a submission. But whether I win or lose, it’s going to be exciting. My fight will be the spice to go with all the delicious food and drink that all the fans will return home to after the event,” said Fujii.
“Soul of Fight” Weigh-in Results:
SRC Featherweight Championship
Marlon Sandro (65.4 kg / 144.1 lbs) vs. Hatsu Hioki (65.7 kg / 144.8 lbs)
Kazuo Misaki (83.6 / 184.3) vs. Mike Seal (83.8 / 184.7)
Megumi Fujii (52.9 / 116.6) vs. Emi Fujino (53.3 / 117.5)
Masanori Kanehara (65 / 143.3) vs. Yoshiro Maeda (64.2 / 141.5)
Taisuke Okuno (79.9 / 176.1) vs. Ryo Chonan (77.1 / 169.9)
Maximo Blanco (70.3 / 154.9) vs. Won Sik Park (70 / 154.3)
SRC Welterweight Grand Prix 2010 Final
Keita Nakamura (76.5 / 168.6) vs. Yasubey Enomoto (76.9 / 169.5)
Kazunori Yokota (70.2 / 154.7) vs. Jadamba Narantungalag (70.1 / 154.5)
Yuki Sasaki (83.6 / 184.3) vs. Mamed Khalidov (83.5 / 184)
Yoshihiro Nakao (100.3 / 221.1) vs. Dave Herman (108 / 238)
SRC Asia Bantamweight Tournament 2010 Semifinals
Akitoshi Tamura (61.2 / 134.9) vs. Taiyo Nakahara (61.1 / 134.7)
Manabu Inoue (61.1 / 134.7) vs. Shunichi Shimizu (61.2 / 134.9)
Hitomi Akano (60.7 / 133.8) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (60.2 / 132.7)
Rin Nakai (63.4 / 139.7) vs. Mika Harigai (64.7 / 142.6)
Misaki Takimoto (48 / 105.8) vs. Amy Davis (47.7 / 105.1)