Aw heck, fans love grand prix tournaments. We could watch them till the cows come home.
Lightweight Grand Prix
Satoru Kitaoka (20-8-9) vs. Clay French (16-2): Kitaoka is a former Pancrase fighter that has outstanding submission skills. Along with this, he's defeated combatants like Carlos Condit and Kurt Pellegrino by way of that route. In terms of striking, Kitaoka has improved even if this continues to be a relative weakness for him. Though he demonstrates a lack of power on his feet?Kitaoka has never knocked anyone out?he also demonstrates a level of toughness in that he's only been knocked out once.
Kitaoka has never been submitted in a professional MMA match.
Clay French is a very good wrestler with strong submission skills. In fact, he's generally well-rounded with solid stand up skills and some power to boot.
He's won eight straight, including wins over Mac Danzig, Jason Ireland, and Jameel Massouh.
Though French has only lost twice, both times it was via submission.
Prediction: A very tough call here. If the fight stays standing, Kitaoka is probably in trouble. If it goes to the ground, then it's anyone's guess. But Kitaoka probably will have trouble getting this one to the ground. Still, this one could go either way.
Clay French wins via decision.
Eiji Mitsuoka (13-5-2) vs. Rodrigo Damm (8-1): Mitsuoka is a well rounded fighter that possesses excellent wrestling, strong jiu jitsu (he's taken out seven fighters in that fashion), and solid stand up. Most of the time when he does lose, it's by decision. In other words, he's a tough out.
Mitsuoka recently defeated DREAM Grand Prix Champion Joachim Hansen by decision.
Damm is a BJJ wizard that lost his first MMA fight and hasn't been defeated since. Along with this, he has outstanding submission skills and strong wrestling. Recently, his stand up has also improved.
During his short career, Damm has defeated Jorge Masvidal (TKO) and Kultar Gill (submission).
Prediction: Given Damm's recent improvement with his stand up, he should prove to be a tough fight for Mitsuoka. Mitsuoka probably won't be able to grind out a decision here, as Damm is too dangerous to do that to on the canvas.
Rodrigo Damm wins by way of submission in round two.
Kazunori Yokota (6-1-3) vs. Bojan Kosednar (6-1): Yokota is a tough guy with outstanding judo skills and ever improving stand up. In other words, he's pretty good at taking people down and controlling them there.
Kosednar is pretty well- rounded. Along with this, he can both hit and wrestle. Like Yokota, he was knocked out in his most recent battle.
Prediction: Yokota has been in there against better competition and defeated them, such as with his win against Nobuhiro Obiya. In the end, expect his judo to come through for him.
Kazunori Yokota wins by way of decision.
Mizuto Hirota (9-2) vs. Ryan Schultz (20-9-1): Hirota hits hard, as his five (T)KO's would seem to attest to. All the rest of his wins and losses went the way of a decision, meaning he's hard to stop. That said, his competition hasn't exactly been stellar.
Ryan Schultz is a very strong fighter and wrestler. Along with this, his ground and pound is difficult to deal with. Beyond that, his stand up is also solid. When Schultz has lost it has generally been by way of stoppage.
Prediction: Schultz, the IFL Lightweight Champion (or former Lightweight Champion) will likely be able to take Hirota down here and control their fight. Eventually, expect it to be too much for Hirota.
Ryan Schultz wins by way of TKO on the ground.
Pawel Nastula (1-3) vs. Yang Dong Yi (2-0): Korean wrestler Yang Dong Yi is undefeated in MMA with two knockouts over lesser competition. Nastula is an unbelievably talented judo fighter that has lost to some of the best in the heavyweight division in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Josh Barnett, and Aleksander Emelianenko. Still, in each of those fights he's shown some skill. Of course, he also tested positive for performance enhancing drugs after fighting Josh Barnett.
Still, go with the man that has fought better fighters here.
Pawel Nastula wins via decision.
Takanori Gomi (28-3) vs. Bang Seung Hwan (2-0): Both guys want to strike. That usually means a Gomi knockout victory. But when the other guy has only fought twice in MMA, well, that usually means a first round Gomi knockout.
Takanori Gomi wins by first round knockout.
Frank Trigg (16-6) vs. Makoto Takimoto (4-4): Takimoto is an awesome judo practitioner. He's also a tough out that has fought some very strong competition. But Trigg's wrestling will be too much for him here.
Frank Trigg wins by way of unanimous decision.
Peter Graham (0-1) vs. Moise Rimbon (12-7-3): Usually, you'd say go with the experience. Figure that Rimbon, however, may try it out on his feet and/ or have difficulty getting Graham to the ground in this one. That could spell trouble.
Peter Graham wins via TKO in round one.
Kazuo Takahashi (28-23-3) vs. Valentijn Overeem (25-22): Overeem certainly has lot of experience, but he's lost four of his last five by stoppage. There's a similar story going on for Takahashi.
Thus, a tough call.
Figure on Valentijn Overeem taking this one by TKO in round one.
Clay French (69.9 kg) vs. Satoru Kitaoka (70 kg)
Eiji Mitsuoka (69.9 kg) vs. Rodrigo Damm (69.9 kg)
Ryan Schultz (69.8 kg) vs. Mizuto Hirota (69.9 kg)
Kazunori Yokota (69.9 kg) vs. Bojan Kosednar (69.7 kg)
Takanori Gomi (69.9 kg) vs. Pang Sung Hwan (70 kg)
Frank Trigg (82.9 kg) vs. Makoto Takimoto (82 kg)
Pawel Nastula (101.6 kg) vs. Yang Dong Yi (100.1 kg)
Moise Rimbon (95.9 kg) vs. Peter Graham (111.1 kg)
Kazuo Takahashi (94.5 kg) vs. Valentjin Overeem (108.2 kg)