TOKYO -- Jorge Santiago avenged his November 2009 loss to Polish MMA standout Mamed Khalidov in the main event of Sengoku Raiden Championship 12 on Sunday, retaining his middleweight title after a close five rounder.
The explosive Khalidov started out by attacking the incumbent champion with a barrage of high-flying, high-risk maneuvers such as superman punches and high spinning back kicks. Santiago evaded or blocked all of the strikes to steal the first round by controlling the standup and securing top position.
Khalidov took over in the second and third periods. He took Santiago to the mat, where he tried to finish in style with lunging punches into Santiago's guard and spinning back stomps. Outside of several kimura attempts and a tight omaplata in the third round, Santiago had little offense in rounds two and three.
Santiago reasserted control in the fourth and fifth frames, however, taking advantage of Khalidov's fatigue. Though in danger from Khalidov's savage ground-and-pound toward the end of the fourth period, Santiago still threatened with submissions from the bottom. As this was Khalidov's first time going beyond the 15-minute mark in a fight, his final burst of offense toward the end of the fourth round left him completely spent. Santiago took it to him on the feet in the final round, opening a cut over the inside of the challenger's right eye with two knees to the face from the clinch.
Judges Ryogoku Wada, Gen Isono and Tenshin Matsumoto scored the bout 48-47, 48-47 and 49-47, all in favor of Santiago.
In the co-featured bout, UFC and Pride veteran Akihiro Gono played it safe against Sweden's Diego Gonzalez. Stating in his blog weeks earlier that he had found difficulty in obtaining footage on his opponent, Gono approached the first two rounds against Gonzalez tentatively, snapping off single punches and low kicks. Gono also landed cutting knees to the face of Gonzalez in the third period, then stepped up his work rate in the standup to put his stamp on the fight. Judges Matsumoto and Masanori Ohashi scored the bout 30-27 for Gono, while judge Isono also ruled the bout for Gono, 30-29.
Maximo Blanco and Chang Hyun Kim's lightweight meeting promised violence, and they delivered in spades. Both fighters flew at each other with windmilling punches and flying knees in the first half-minute. The end came when “Maxi” drove forward with a flurry and connected with a lunging right hand. As Kim swayed from the blow, Blanco lifted his left leg and punted him in the face to fold him flat on the canvas. Referee Wada then jumped in to restrain an ecstatic Blanco, ending the bout at 1:10.
In perhaps the evening's biggest mismatch, Sengoku featherweight grand prix semifinalist Marlon Sandro destroyed Tomonari Kanomata. After evading an early Kanomata barrage, the Nova Uniao product returned with two hooks and a right uppercut to Kanomata's chin, knocking him out cold. Sandro then followed up with a big right hand to the prone Kanomata's face that caused the downed fighter's feet to convulse. Official time was nine seconds.
Though Yoshihiro Nakao didn't plant any kisses on Henry “Sentoryu” Miller, he did plant many punches on the former sumo wrestler's face. In the two rounds that the fight lasted, Nakao pinned Miller with a crucifix while raining down punches. With Miller offering no defense, referee Wada was forced to call the bout at 3:27 of round two.
King of the Cage Canada bantamweight champion Nick Denis played the antagonist in his bout against Cage Force featherweight champion Yuji Hoshino. He pressured the Japanese champ on the feet and landed more punches than Hoshino from the bottom in guard. Despite pushing the pace, Denis got caught when Hoshino jumped into a guillotine while pressed against the ropes in the clinch. Unable to pull his head out, Denis tapped 47 seconds into the second frame.
Leonardo Santos made quick work of K-1 Hero's veteran Kiuma Kunioku, taking him down after catching a knee in the clinch. Santos then effortlessly moved from side mount to mount and then back mount to sink the rear-naked choke for the tap at 3:06 of the first round.
In the opening featherweight bout, Shigeki Osawa outpointed Kyung Ho Kang. Kang threw up several submission attempts from bottom, but it proved little match for Osawa's overpowering wrestling. Three suplexes and plenty of top-position grinding punches later, Osawa walked away the 30-28 winner on all three judges' cards.
During the evening's intermission, SRC lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota announced that the mending of his right arm -- broken in a fight against Shinya Aoki at Dynamite 2009 -- has been proceeding well. However, given the fact that he suffered a loss to Aoki and that he would likely not return to fight, let alone defend the title, until September, Hirota relinquished the belt. This was followed by Hirota petitioning to FEG boss Sadaharu Tanigawa -- who was in attendance and sitting ringside -- for a rematch against Aoki at the next Dynamite event.
SRC also announced that its 13th event will be held once again at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 20 and will feature a featherweight title bout between Masanori Kanehara and Marlon Sandro.