Sengoku: Following the Pride Mold Too Closely?

Shawn SmithCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2009

There is no denying the huge impact that Pride FC had on mixed martial arts not only in Japan, but worldwide. Many of the greatest fighters in the world competed for the grand organization and even today almost three years since its destruction, we still see the lasting effects.

Many of today’s stars of the sport went through Pride before becoming top names in the United States such as Wanderlei Silva, Anderson Silva, Antonio Nogueira, Quinton Jackson, and Dan Henderson among many others.

This of course is not to say that Pride did not make its share of mistakes. Sketchy business practices and the lack of regulation both on judging and performance enhancing drugs made Pride the wild west of Mixed Martial Arts for many fighters who were banned or suspended in the United States (such as Josh Barnett).

As we are now seeing, Sengoku is following in the same footsteps. They have been putting on spectacular events highlighting some of the best talent Japan and the world has to offer. Pride was one of the first promotions to allow the lightweights to really shine, not only creating a lightweight championship but a Grand-Prix to showcase 16 of the world’s best.

On top of this, the Bushido events which Pride was famous for constantly brought in world-wide well knock talent such as Yves Edwards and Jens Pulver to take on Japan’s best.

Sengoku is going with even lighter weight classes in showcasing a featherweight grand-prix highlighting some of the best Japanese fighters against their counterparts in the rest of the world. So far the tournament has been spectacular and full of fun entertaining fights.

However as we found out at Sengoku IX, maybe they are following the mold that Pride created a little too closely. In a Japanese vs. Japanese semi-final match, HatsuHioki (a favorite throughout the tournament) dominated Masanori Kanehara and took a unanimous decision victory. After the contest, Hioki had weakness in his arms and legs and numbness in his back, therefore making him incapable of continuing onto the finals.

A reserve bout was held later in the evening where Korean Chan Sung Jung defeated American born Matt Jaggers and therefore should have rightfully taken Hioki’s spot in the finals of the tournament.

However in a mind baffling decision on the part of Sengoku’s management, Japanese Kanehara (who was defeated earlier in the evening) was allowed to move onto the finals of the tournament instead of the Korean Jung therefore making Jung’s fight pointless.

In the other semi-final bout of the evening, Brazilian born Marlon Sandro (another favorite in the tournament) took on Japanese Michihiro Omigawa. Sandro took control of the fight on the feet and was able to pick apart Omigawa throughout the three round fight.

Sandro definitely won the first two rounds with the third round possibly going either way and to everyone’s surprise the Japanese born Omigawa took the decision, therefore setting up a Japanese vs. Japanese fighter therefore guaranteeing a Japanese winner to the tournament.

No explanation as to why Kanehara was chosen to fight in the finals instead of Jung was given, but considering the lack of damage Jung took, its highly unlikely it was injury related.

On top of this, it was announced that on Sengoku’s November card, everyone’s favorite fighter Josh Barnett will be in action against another fighter who was suspended from the CSAC, Antonio Silva.

Sengoku is turning into Pride all over again, and for the fans this is a scary thought.