SRC 14 Weigh-in Results: Misaki, Santiago Set

By Tony Loiseleur Aug 21, 2010
TOKYO -- All fighters made weight Saturday for Sengoku Raiden Championship 14. Headlining the card Sunday at the Ryogoku Kokugikan is a rematch between SRC middleweight champion Jorge Santiago and Kazuo Misaki.

“I put more focus on [my conditioning] because I'll be fighting for five rounds,” said Santiago, who has already had two life-and-death five-rounders in the promotion. “I just want to be well prepared for it.”

Stymied by the slick striking of Misaki in their first encounter in January 2009, Santiago pulled out a show-stopping comeback by sinking a rear-naked choke in the fifth round, earning him the title. Despite the satisfying end to an otherwise long road through Sengoku's 2008 middleweight grand prix, the champ has been eager to rematch Misaki.

“I plan to fight and finish in less time, maybe inside of four [rounds],” Santiago said. “That's why I wanted to fight Misaki again, because I know I can [have] a better fight compared to the last time. I have more tools and I'm healthy this time. At the time, I came [into the title fight] from the tournament and I had a hand injury, so I think I can do better than that.

“I'm expecting the best Misaki ever,” the champion asserted. “I know he'll be fighting to try and win back something he lost. But I'm the champ. I worked my ass off. Since the beginning, I had to fight in a tournament. I know how much it cost me to get the belt. I know what kind of fight he's going to bring, and he knows what kind of fight I'm going to bring. I'm not looking for five rounds; I'm looking to finish this fight.”

Misaki is entering the title fight as a newly minted freelance fighter, having left the Grabaka gym late last year. As such, he has taken up a more active role in shaping his training camps and managing his own career. One notable addition mentioned was of training his ground skills with Pride veteran Daiju Takase, who holds a triangle-choke submission over current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

“Once I went freelance, it was the first time I had to prepare everything by myself,” Misaki said. “It's pretty much all the same, but my environment has changed and there are so many other things I need to deal with. One thing you realize is that before, so many people had worked hard to support me, and now I have to do it myself. People around me do support me, though, so I think I'm very blessed.”

Though Misaki was unable to make a fight prediction, he made a philosophical pick as to who would end up the champion Sunday.

“Honestly, there's not much difference, technically,” he said. “Maybe it comes down to who wants it more, who has more will to fight.”

Asked how long he hoped to defend the SRC title, a jovial Santiago replied, “I hope they don't close SRC. I want to be here forever. As long as they call on me, I'll be ready. As long as we're alive, we'll be together.”

Gono Has ‘Smooth Cut’ for Lightweight Debut

Misaki won't be the only former Grabaka member to step into the ring Sunday, as Akihiro Gono will make his lightweight debut against K-1 veteran Jadamba Narantungalag.

Claiming a “surprisingly smooth cut” to lightweight, the ever ebullient Gono expressed satisfaction with meeting his Mongolian opponent at the weigh-ins.

“I'm looking forward to our fight tomorrow,” Gono said. “When I shook hands with him earlier, I thought, 'Ah, we're in the same physical condition.' That's the first time I've ever felt something like that in my 15 years of fighting professionally.”

Though Gono seems well prepared and optimistic for his lightweight debut, the kickboxing and Mongolian wrestling specialist in Narantungalag has apparently done little gameplanning or research for the Japanese veteran.

“I have not had any chance to see any footage on Gono,” he said, “but he's famous, not just in Japan, but in the world. I think I'll be able to have a good fight with him.”

As the first representative of the forcefully retired ex-sumo champ Asashoryu, Narantungalag says he is looking forward to fighting in the nationally renowned sumo hall, the Ryogoku Kokugikan. Despite early rumors that piqued the interest of Japanese media that claimed that team leader Asashoryu would be in attendance for Narantungalag's bout, Yahoo Japan's Sportsnavi Web site reported Saturday the sumo bad boy would not be attending SRC 14.

Hioki Not Looking Past Lawson

Slated to face Jeff Lawson in a featherweight attraction, Shooto 143-pound world champion Hatsu Hioki commented that he hopes not to fall into the TUF alum's game.

“He's powerful and aggressive. He's from judo. I just have to be sure not to get into his style of fighting,” said Hioki, who in the past has played into his opponent's strengths.

With the Shooto title around his waist, Hioki expressed that he now feels obligated to meeting expectations befitting of a champion.

“There's nothing in particular [that I have to do], but I have to make sure that I don't embarrass anyone because I'm now a champion in Shooto,” Hioki said. “I have to live up to the position. [It's not so] much pressure, but it's a good motivator for me.”

WVR president Toru Mukai hinted that should Hioki do well against Lawson, he would likely be next in line to challenge SRC featherweight champion Marlon Sandro. According to an interview with Tatame earlier this month, however, Sandro intimated that his next fight would likely be a non-title crossover bout with Dream on their upcoming Nagoya card.

The news came as somewhat of a surprise to Hioki, who expressed reservations about the prospect of Sandro competing in Dream.

“That's the first I've heard that,” said a perturbed Hioki. “However, because he's the SRC featherweight champion, I think he should try to keep the belt for himself and represent SRC. But if [going to Dream is] what he wishes, then that's what he wants and there's nothing I can do about it.”

Be that as it may, Hioki said that he would support Sandro's potential foray into Dream if he intends to fight there as a one-time representative of SRC.

Weigh-in Results

SRC Middleweight Championship:
Jorge Santiago (83.6 kg / 184.3 lbs) vs. Kazuo Misaki (83.9 kg / 185 lbs)

Akihiro Gono (70.3 / 155) vs. Jadamba Narantungalag (70.1 / 154.5)
Hatsu Hioki (65.7 / 144.8) vs. Jeff Lawson (65.5 / 144.4)
Sotaro Yamada (70.3 / 155) vs. Leonardo Santos (70.3 / 155)

SRC Welterweight GP Series 2010:
Taisuke Okuno (76.8 / 169.3) vs. Nick Thompson (77 / 169.8)
Kenta Takagi (77.1 / 170) vs. Yasubey Enomoto (77 / 169.8)

SRC Welterweight GP Reserve Bout:
Motoki Miyazawa (77.1 / 170) vs. Takuya Sato (76.7 / 169.1)

SRC Asia Bantamweight Tournament 2010 Round Two:
Shintaro Ishiwatari (61.2 / 134.9) vs. Kil Woo Lee (61.2 / 134.9)
Takuya Eizumi (57.4 / 126.5) vs. Shoko Sato (61.1 / 134.7)
Wataru Takahashi (61 / 134.5) vs. Tatsuya So (61.1 / 134.7)
Hirokazu Nishimura (61 / 134.5) vs. Jae Hyun So (61.1 / 134.7)
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