The rest of the card is comprised of bouts that could determine future title contenders: heavyweights Antonio Silva vs. "Big" Jim York, lightweights Ryan Schultz vs. Kazunori Yokota and welterweights Dan Hornbuckle vs. Nick "The Goat" Thompson.
Check out my predictions below.
What: Sengoku X
When: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009
Where: Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan
How: Watch it live on HDNet beginning 3AM ET.
Hiroshi Izumi vs. Antz "Notorious" Nansen: There's a lot of assuming going on when trying to predict a fight between two fighters making their MMA debuts. One is a world-class judoka and the other is a kickboxing champion in New Zealand. Izumi has talked about wanting a fighting style similar to Wanderlei Silva's, which would be disastrous if Nansen is as good as his record suggests. I see Izumi abandoning the striking game early, securing a takedown and pulling out an early submission win over the kickboxer with very limited grappling experience.
Antonio Silva vs. "Big" Jim York: Silva is the favorite going into this fight and is already in the promotion's plans to fight for the first-ever Sengoku heavyweight belt. York likes to slug with his heavy hands as shown in his last fight when he knocked out James Thomson with a stiff jab. Silva's one career loss was teeing off on another puncher in Eric Pele until a counter dropped him, so York does have a chance to win. The fight will take place mainly on the feet and in the clinch and the result will be a matter of who can catch who in an exchange. I'm going with the bigger Silva via knockout.
Makoto Takimoto vs. Jae Sun Lee: Takimoto's 5-5 record is deceiving since all he accepts are tough fights and this is arguably his first fight where he's not the underdog. Takimoto's disadvantage in this fight would be his striking and I see Takimoto eyeing around until he finds an opening to put Lee on the mat and finish with a submission.
Ryan Schultz vs. Kazunori Yokota: The way to beat Schultz would be to knock him out and Yokota doesn't have the power to do that. If ring rust isn't an issue, Schultz will grind out the decision win.
Dan Hornbuckle vs. Nick Thompson: Hornbuckle, a solid prospect in the Midwest, sent notice on the international level by upsetting Akihiro Gono with a nasty head kick at Sengoku 9. Hornbuckle is far hungrier and the more energetic of the two, which could easily spell an upset, but Thompson's experience should carry him here to a decision victory.
Hiroshi Izumi (205) vs. Antz Nansen (204.2)
Antonio Silva (267) vs. "Big" Jim York (253.1)
Makoto Takimoto (166) vs. Jae Sun Lee (167.6)
Ryan Schultz (153.2) vs. Kazunori Yokota (153.9)
Ryo Kawamura (203.7) vs. Fabio Silva (202)
Dan Hornbuckle (165.13) vs. Nick Thompson (167.3)
Takenori Sato (183) vs. Joe Doerksen (182.3)
Maximo Blanco (154.3) vs. Tetsuya Yamada (154.1)