The SRC featherweight title: Daniel Herbertson | Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- Japan’s much-anticipated featherweight showdown will happen this holiday season.
Sengoku Raiden Championship announced Wednesday that SRC featherweight champion Marlon Sandro will defend his title against Shooto world 143-pound champion Hatsu Hioki at the promotion’s Dec. 30 “Soul of Fight” all-day martial arts festival at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.
"Both men have been training hard and are very focused on this fight. The fans have also been looking forward to it as well, as we've received a lot of questions about it," said Toru Mukai, president of SRC parent company World Victory Road.
Both Hioki and Sandro vied for the SRC featherweight crown in 2009’s 145-pound grand prix. Hioki defeated Masanori Kanehara in the semi-finals, but wasn’t medically cleared to continue into the finals later that night. In the other semi-final, Sandro lost a highly controversial split decision to Michihiro Omigawa.
Sandro went on to capture the title from eventual grand prix winner Kanehara in his first title defense in June, knocking Kanehara out with a vicious uppercut just 38 seconds into the first round. Hioki has also picked up a title recently, taking the Shooto 143-pound world title from "Lion Takeshi" Inoue in May. Hioki returned to SRC in August, dispatching "TUF 9" alum Jeff Lawson by rear-naked choke in the first round.
"I am very excited to face Hioki. I always train my hardest to put forth the best fight possible. I'm really hungry in this fight," Sandro said in a prepared statement.
Hioki, in his own prepared statement, gave his customary curt platitude.
"I'm going to do my best to very limits of my ability," the Nagoya native said.
SRC also announced a middleweight contest for the card, pitting Kazuo Misaki against Mike Seal.
Misaki is coming off a fifth-round stoppage loss to Jorge Santiago in their thrilling “Fight of the Year” candidate in August. The journeyman Seal last saw action in May, when he was choked out by Timothy Woods in the second round.
A "jacket rules" martial arts bout between Pancrase veterans Yukio Sakaguchi and Jin Suk Jung was also confirmed for the card.