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'Sengoku 7' Featherweight GP Review

Sengoku 7 came to us all from the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan on March 20, 2009 at 12 A.M. (so let's call it March 19, know what I mean?). The bottom line is that the night was about the Featherweight Grand Prix, with eight fights going off in that weight class. That said, rising up and comer "King" Mo Lawal was also on the card.

Get ready, get set, go.

In the first fight of the night (a Featherweight Grand Prix bout), Seiya Kawahara took on Nick Denis. All six of Denis's wins had come by way of stoppage coming into this bout. Would this fight make it seven?

In a word, yes.

After a feeling out process, Denis delivered a right high kick to Kawahara's face that dropped him. Though his opponent recovered to his feet quickly, he got caught in the clinch soon after and ate some knees for his efforts.

After a separation, the two traded punches. The difference was that a Denis right hand got through and left his opponent on the canvas. Multiple strikes later and the referee jumped in to stop the fight just as the towel from Kawahara's corner came flying in.

Nick Denis wins by way of stoppage in round one.

Next up was a bout between Ronnie Mann and Tetsuya Yamada. Yamada was the youngest fighter in the tournament at only 18 years of age. Would that hurt him against Mann, a fighter with 18 career MMA bouts?

Early on, Yamada shot in for a takedown and achieved it. But soon after, Mann swept his opponent directly into his mount. A moment later, Yamada turned around and gave up his back. But somehow, after Mann ended up with the mount again, Yamada almost transitioned to a heel hook. Though the move didn't work, he found himself with full guard soon after. After some triangle attempts by Yamada, Mann decided to bring the fight back to their feet, which eventually would become pretty standard in this fight. Yamada then jumped right in looking for a leglock and almost got himself a heel hook for his efforts. Then the bell.

An excellent and very competitive round.

Yamada got hit with a hard right and then was taken down to start the next stanza. After some mild ground and pound, the two came to their feet again. Yamada tried a flying knee and ended up getting taken down again for his efforts. After accepting some ground and pound, Yamada began looking for a Kimura and though it failed, he did manage to nail his adversary with two hard up kicks. From there, he got to his feet and was put right back down on the canvas again. Mann controlled the rest of the stanza.

Yamada started off the final round connecting with a big knee and some punches. But then he got taken down, as was becoming customary. Yamada used an armbar to turn things over; but it was short lived, as he found himself on his back soon after. For the majority of the rest of the stanza, Mann controlled things and almost sunk in a toe hold. That is, until the tail end of the round when Yamada gained the top position on the ground and executed some ground and pound.

Mann probably deserves the win. But this was a good, close fight.

Ronnie Mann wins via decision.

The next fight saw Korea's Jung Chan Sung take on Shintaro Ishiwatari. The skinny on this one was simple: Ishiwatari was the more schooled fighter; Sung was a brawler that was good at what he does.

The first round started off with both fighters connecting with big punches on one another for over a minute and a half. But then Jung knocked Ishiwatari down with a left, though he recovered quickly. Soon after, however, Jung achieved side control but could not keep his opponent down.

From there, this fight went from good to great. Ishawatari began beating Jung around the ring with his more proficient striking. But then Jung connected with some punches that stunned his opponent. Taking advantage of his adversary's predicament, he immediately took Ishiwatari's back and sunk in the rear naked choke.

Wow! What a great ending.

Chan Sung Jung wins via rear naked choke in round one.

Next up was a fight between Kim Jong Man of Korea and Japan's Masanori Kanehara. Kim came into this bout with a 3-5-3 overall record. So, you would think that this one was a mismatch coming in. But that's why they have the fights, right? On any given day. . .

The majority of the first round was rather boring, with Kanehara connecting with sporadic low kicks and not much else. But then an exchange after the one minute mark left Man on the ground with Kanehara on top of him. But the follow up just wasn't there from Kanehara to finish things.

So onto the second round.

The second stanza saw some decent early exchanges on their feet before Kanehara took his adversary down. A follow up side choke by him failed. At the end of the second round, Man was looking for a guillotine off his back.

The third round saw Kim get the worst of a stand up exchange before reversing a takedown attempt on his opponent. Then Kim executed some nice ground and pound before ending up on his back, almost with a guillotine in hand. Still, this led to Kanehara mounting his opponent.

Then the two got up. Kanehara gained another takedown before the bell.

This fight got better as it went on. Kanehara probably did enough to win, particularly out here in Japan. But it was close.

Masonori Kanehara wins via decision.

Matt Jaggers took on Nova Uniao blackbelt Marlon Sandro. Sandro was a huge favorite coming in. Could Jaggers somehow pull off the huge upset victory?

Early on, Sandro tripped his opponent to the canvas. Not much happened until Jaggers exploded to his feet. Eventually, though, Sandro once again took Jaggers down. Though Jaggers turned his opponent over again, Sandro returned the favor soon after. Then came the mount by Sandro. Jaggers again turned him over.

In the end, the first round looked a lot like a grappling match.

In the next round, Sandro connected with a nice spinning kick to the body and then gained another takedown. He then took side control. Jaggers once again amazingly got up. But Sandro had him in a standing side choke (really rare to see that). Eventually, it looked like Jaggers went out cold, falling to the canvas.

Marlon Sandro wins via second round submission.

Next up was a match between L.C. Davis and Michihiro Omigawa. Omigawa came into this one with a losing record. Not good against a fighter like L.C. Davis. But let's see if that would matter.

Early on, Omigawa won in the clinch, tripping Davis to the canvas. Eventually, he took side control, where he started in with some mild knees to the body. Generally, Omigawa was not very active at all. Late in the stanza (after the 2:00 mark), he then took the mount. After some ground and pound there, Davis turned his back and Omigawa took it. Some scrambling almost led to an armbar for the Japanese fighter. Then the bell.

Davis is losing so far.

There wasn't a lot of action through a minute and a half of the next round. Then Omigawa achieved another takedown. From there, the Japanese fighter worked to improve his position, but this time Davis turned him over and got to his feet. While there, he landed a nice knee. The two traded some shots the rest of the stanza.

Davis needs to come up with something big in the third or he's going to lose this fight.

Unfortunately for him, the third saw Omigawa take his opponent down once again. While there, he almost achieved a guillotine choke. Though Davis did turn him over momentarily, all that got him was the same in return.

Michihiro Omigawa wins via decision in an upset.

Remember the ear! That's right, James Thompson is back. In the next fight of the night, he took on Jim York. Would Thompson get back on a winning track?

Thompson came in with his customary aggressiveness, nearly falling over the top of the ropes. For his efforts, York nailed him with a left hand that left him on the ground. Thompson did get up, but nearly got caught in a guillotine. Soon after shirking a Thompson takedown attempt, York was hurt by a left from his adversary. But after clinching and trading blows, York nailed Thompson with a left that put him out for good.

Jim York wins by first round stoppage.

Next up was a match between Hideki Kadowaki and the always tough Nam Phan. The story on this one was simple.

The two traded some blows early on, with Phan's body shots taking a toll. Then came a hard right by Phan.

That was that.

Nam Phan wins by way of first round stoppage.

Hatsu Hioki took on Chris Manuel in the next fight. Early on, Hioki gained a takedown and began to connect with some ground and pound before mounting his opponent. From there, he took his back and attempted an armbar that failed. Though Manuel got to his feet, Hioki once again took him down. Again, he moved to side control. Then came an armbar attempt that eventually turned into a triangle choke. When Manuel escaped, Hioki went back to the ole' armbar again.

This time, no one was escaping.

Hatsu Hioki wins via first round armbar.

Mo Lawal is a superstar in the making. But how many times have we seen a superstar get derailed early in one of those learn from it kind of moments? Would Lawal meet eye to eye with his MMA inexperience against Ryo Kawamura?


In the first, Lawal continually brought Kawamura to the ground hard on his head, showing his sheer power and athleticism. Though Kawamura was able to get to his feet, this did nothing but allow Lawal to once again take him down. Lawal also hit home with a hard right near the end of the first.

The second round saw Lawal poke his opponent in the eye twice unintentionally. He was given a yellow card. From there, came another couple of Lawal takedowns and some messing around on their feet.

In the third, Lawal once again took his opponent down. From there, came some nice ground and pound. Lawal picked Kawamura up, as he had done so many times on the night, and slammed his on his head on the canvas again. Kawamura, a tough guy for sure, got back up only to be taken down once more.

That's that. Lawal is going to be a superstar.

Mo Lawal wins by way of a decision.

In the end, Sengoku 7 was an interesting night. It's hard to get overly interested in these featherweights yet as many are relatively unknown. Still, they exhibited some promise. Beyond that, Lawal once again showed the world that he is an athletic force to be reckoned with.

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