World Victory Road’s Sengoku 9 Betting Odds and Analysis

Satoru Kitaoka (-400, BetCRIS) vs Mizuto Hirota (+350, BetUS) 

Satoru Kitaoka is a world class BJJ practitioner.  He is the current BJJ and No-Gi Open Champion in the 79.7 KG and absolute divisions in Japan, and he recently won the Sengoku lightweight tournament.  He originally fought at welterweight in Pancrase, but dropped down to lightweight to fight in Sengoku.  After the lightweight GP, he beat Takanori Gomi for the lightweight championship and this will be his first title defense.  He is 25-8.

Satoru has some very good wrestling with amazingly quick takedowns.  Most often, he will shoot in and pull guard, just to get the fight to the ground.  From there, his forte his leg attacks, especially heel hooks and ankle locks.  Standing up, he is less than impressive, but his lack of striking prowess is fairly easily covered up by his threat of takedowns and lightness on his feet.  Of his 25 wins, 14 have been by submission, the rest were decisions.  Out of his 8 losses, 7 were by decision and only 1 by KO.

The challenger, Mizuto Hirota, is a heavy handed striker out of the Gutsman Shooto Dojo.  He has mainly fought with Shooto and has an 11-3 record.  63% of his wins have been by KO or TKO and none by submission.  In addition, all of his loses have been via decision.  He has some good hand speed and a descent sprawl.

This is a classic striker vs grappler match up.  Hirota is going to want to keep this on the feet and let his hands fly.  Satoru will want to get this to the ground and sink in one of his heel hooks.  Thus far, Satoru has shown an uncanny ability to avoid damage standing up and that he has the wrestling ability to get fights to the ground.  Therefore, it is unlikely that Hirota will be able to keep this fight standing.  Look for Saturo to impose his will in this fight and get the victory.

Final Prediction:  Satoru Kitaoka should take this, but I would stay away from it since the line is above my -400 rule.


Dan Hornbuckle (+350, BetUS) vs Akihiro Gono (-355, BetCRIS) 

Akihiro Gono is a very exciting Japanese fighter that just left the UFC after back-to-back losses to Jon Fitch and Dan Hardy.  He has been in the fight game since 1994 and has notable wins over Gegard Mousasi, Ivan Salaverry, and Tamden McCrory.  He also has notable losses to Mauricio Rua, Dan Henderson, and Matt Hughes.  He is currently 29-14 and is on a two fight losing streak.

As of late, Gono seems to have lost a step or two.  He has always had some very crazy unorthodox striking, and that didn’t help him at all in the UFC.  His most recent fight against Jon Fitch was just painful to watch as he was unable to mount any kind of offense the whole fight.  He does have some good submission skills and has been known to pull out submissions in very strange positions.

Now Dan Hornbuckle is a lot like Gono, just younger.  He has some very crazy striking, but it is borderline sloppy.  He is listed as being 17-2, however, most of his fights have been on fairly small cards in Indiana.  I have a feeling that most of his success came from being a big fish in a small pond.  Dan does have some submission skills, but it is unlikely he will be able to hang with Gono on the ground.  Dan’s only really strength is a strong wrestling base with powerful takedowns, and that is one area where Gono has had problems in the past.

Final Prediction:  Gono is a healthy favorite at -355.  However, I think he may be a little overvalued in this fight.  Dan isn’t pretty to watch, but he does have the potential to pull the upset on a longtime veteran that might be losing his step.  Therefore, take Hornbuckle at +350 risking .3 units to win 1.05 units.


Matt Jaggers (+300, BetUS) vs Jung Chan Sung (-315, BetCRIS) 

Matt Jaggers was a regular staple at KOTC and made a pretty big jump in competition when he came to Sengoku.  He is a very reserved fighter that does a great job conserving his energy and then exploding into activity when he feels his positioning is right.  His standup his good and his GnP even better.  The only hole in his game would be on the ground.  67% of his losses have been by submission, and he was completely destroyed by Marlon Sandro at Sengoku 7 with a standing arm-triangle.

Jung Chan Sung is a Korean fighter that has been in the game for about 2 years.  He won a kickboxing reality TV show in Korea and has transitioned over to MMA.  He won a Korean Sambo tournament in 2007, the lightweight tournament in Pancrase, and the 8-man KOREA-FC tournament in 2008.  He initially had good success in Sengoku, eliminating Shintaro Ishiwatari at the end of the first round.  However, he was then defeated by Masanori Kanehara at Sengoku 8.  The whole affair was a pretty exciting back and forth battle that saw some good striking and great submission attempts.  Jung is currently 6-1.

For only having 7 fights, Jung is very well rounded.  He is extremely quick with powerful knees and sudden submission attempts.  He did have Kanehara in danger several times with both armbars and triangle chokes.  Standing up, he delivered a good bit of punishment, but was unable to stop Kanehara’s takedowns, which ultimately won him the decision.

I would have to lean in Jung’s direction for this fight.  He doesn’t have a huge amount of experience, but he is very well rounded and his speed would cause problems for anyone.  He also has a very aggressive standup style that focuses on forward rushing flurries of haymakers.  It isn’t the prettiest thing to watch, but it can be very effective and should be so against Jagger, who is very reserved with a tall standup style.  In addition, Jung has a very good chance of pulling off a submission if this fight goes to the ground.

Final Prediction: At -315, Jung is a little overvalued in this fight.  There would be some value if he was below -250, but he is just too high at this point.  On the opposite end, Jaggers isn’t really worth the underdog bet at +300.  So, no action on this fight.


Michihiro Omigawa (+195, Bodog) vs Marlon Sandro (-205, Sportsbook) 

Michihiro Omigawa has been on an absolute tear in this featherweight tournament.  He was a huge underdog against L.C. Davis and a slight underdog against Nam Phan, but he was able to pull off the upset both times.  He is only 6-7 with 50% of wins by TKO.  He has fought in Deep and the UFC with notable losses to Matt Wiman, Thiago Tavares, Chan Sung Jung, and JZ Calvancanti.

Omigawa has a strong Judo background, and that can be seen in his pure domination of Nam Phan with great throws throughout the first round.  His standup has improved by leaps and bounds, with great head movement and punches in bunches.  He also has seen a good strength increase from dropping down to 145lbs.  Omigawa has never looked better in his carrer.

Marlon Sandro has been on his own tear, with an undefeated record of 14-0.   His first 9 wins came from smaller shows in Brazil and 3 wins in Pancrase before his move to Sengoku.  Since coming into the tournament, he cut through Matt Jaggers with a powerful standing arm-triangle and then a 19 second KO of knockout artist Nick Denis.

His KO of Denis really showed Marlon’s dangerous standup skills.  He was primarily known as more of a BJJ fighter that took top control and got the decision, but his striking with Denis looked fast, powerful, and perfectly placed.  There was nothing sloppy or lucky about it.  On the ground, Marlon is a pitbull with 3 submission victories, the most noticeable one being the victory over Jaggers.  This kid looks strong, very well-rounded, and just plain dangerous.

Final Prediction:  I have a feeling that Marlon will be putting an end to Omigawa’s current hot streak.  He will have the edge on the feet and most likely on the ground as well.  Therefore, take Marlon Sandro at -205 risking 2.05 units to win 1 unit.


Hatsu Hioki (-575, BetCRIS) vs Masanori Kanehara (+550, BetUS) 

Masanori Kanehara is a real darkhorse in this featherweight tournament.  So far, he has been able to pull out decision victories over Jong Man Kim and Chan Sung Jung.  He originally had some problems in the beginning of his career going 0-2-3 in his first 5 fights.  Most of his fights too place in ZST and he has since moved on to Sengoku.  He is currently 12-5-5.

Kanehara is very light on his feet and puts together good combinations.  His biggest strength is his wrestling, which he used to dominate Jung.  This most likely comes from his work with ATT, who have a lot of high level wrestlers.  On the ground, he is very intelligent, and was able to nullify all of the submission attempts Jung threw his way.  He does have KO power, but has also been KOed twice himself.  All in all, he is a very intelligent, well-rounded fighter.

Hatsu Hioki is another submission ace in this tournament.  He made his name in Shooto and holds a notable wins over Jeff Curran.  So far in the tournament, he has eliminated Ronnie Mann and Chris Manuel.  He is 19-3-2 and is the favorite to win the whole tournament.

It is no secret that Hioki wants to take this fight to the ground.  He has great transitions and is just a monster when it comes to BJJ.  Over 50% of his wins have come by submission.  Standing up, he is quick but not very powerful.  He does have good takedowns, with quick shots from the outside.

Hioki came in as the heavy favorite in this fight.  His victories in the tournament thus far have been much more decisive and impressive.  Plus, if this fight gets to the ground, he has a massive advantage and can get the submission victory.  However, there is a good possibility that Kanehara will be able to use his wrestling to keep this fight standing and eke out the decision on his feet. Plus, if Hioki tries to stand with Kanehara, he will lose, and he has done that in the past to prove he can strike.  It didn’t work out for him then and it won’t work out for him now.

Final Prediction:  Kanehara at +550 is a great value.  I think a lot of people are overlooking this guy.  So take Masanori Kanehara at +550 risking 1 unit to win 5.5 units.

Kazuo Misaki (-250, Bodog) vs Kazuhiro Nakamura (+215, BetCRIS)

There is a bit of a back story to this match that could have an influence on this fight.  So, it needs to be addressed.  First, this was supposed to be a #1 contender fight in the middleweight division.  It no longer is, at least for Misaki it’s not.  If Nakamura wins, he will have the chance to fight Jorge Santiago for the belt in the future.  Secondly, Misaki is not making any money for this fight.  His entire purse is being given to charity.  Finally, Misaki will be suspended from fighting for an indefinite period after August 2nd. Therefore, this may be his last time in the ring for a while.

All of this stems from an altercation that Misaki had with a police officer.  He was pulled over for speaking on his mobile phone, and for some reason, he decided to make a run for it.  He failed to do so, but he did end up hitting the officer’s car in the process.  Therefore, he is not getting paid and he will be unable to fight for a while after this match.  I have a feeling that this will make Misaki a very dangerous opponent.

Since all of the drama of this fight is on Misaki’s head, his fighting analysis is the best place to start.  Misaki is a former judoka and Pride welterweight GP champion.  He has had some good runs in Pride and Pancrase with notable wins over Denis Kang, Joe Riggs, Dan Henderson, and Phil Baroni.  He also has notable losses to Dan Henderson, Paulo Fihlo, Nate Marquardt, and Frank Trigg.  He is currently sporting a 21-9 record.

Misaki may have a judo background, but he hasn’t taken a fight down in a little while.  He didn’t even shoot once in his last 3 fights.  The trend will probably continue for this fight.  His standup is very elusive.  He likes to dart in and land a 1-3 punch combination and then get back out.  These combinations are well diversified, with hard body shots, and an intelligent mix of jabs, crosses, and hooks.  He isn’t a one dimensional charge-forward-and-throw-haymakers kind of striker, and that is where his true edge comes from.

On the other side of the ring, you have Nakamura.  He was a regular over in Pride and then went to the UFC after Prides demise.  He went 0-2 in the UFC and has now returned to Japan to fight in Sengoku.  Since coming back, he has gone 2-1.  Nakamura has notable wins over Evangelista Santos and Kevin Randleman. He has notable losses to Little Nog (twice), Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett, Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, and Sokoudjou.  Those last two occurred during his run in the UFC.  He is currently 13-9.

Nakamura has a similar striking style to Misaki, however, it is fairly rudimentary and lacks the combinations that Misaki throws.  He usually just pops in with the left jab and then moves out.  Every once in a while he will push forward with straight shots, but he especially likes his left jabs.  If he gets frustrated, he will start jumping in with knees and wild kicks.

While Nakamura is also a former judoka, like Misaki, he will actually use his judo and work for takedowns. That is the one area where he may give Misaki problems.  Nakamura also has better GnP than Misaki’s ground defense, and if he can get the fight to the ground, he has a real chance of winning.  Standing up, Misaki has the upper hand with an edge in boxing, hand speed, and elusiveness.

To factor in the problems that Misaki has had outside the ring, I have the feeling that he is going be fighting very hard.  There is no money on the line, but there is a matter of honor.  Japan is one of those countries where honor is taken very seriously, and with Misaki potentially not fighting for a while, he will pull out all the stops in this fight.

One additional point to look at is how both these guys faired in their last fight.  Both of them lost to Jorge Santiago.  Misaki looked a lot better during that bout, and lasted past round 3.  He was eventually put away via a RNC.  Nakamura was put away in round 3 by TKO.  Jorge put him down with a right cross and then finished him off on the ground.  Misaki took out Joe Riggs at Strikeforce with a hard right cross, which is something to consider.

Final Prediction:  Misaki was a little higher than expected when the lines came out.  I was thinking closer to -185, which makes me pause.  -250 seems too high, therefore, I would stay away from it.  There may be a good opportunity for an underdog bet on Nakamura at +215, but it is risky.  His most likely path to victory will be to get Misaki to the ground and get the TKO or decision.  I would put his chances of doing that at around 35-40%.  Don’t throw down more than .5 units to win 1.075 units.


Kazuyuki Fujita (+110, Sportsbook) vs Blagoy Alexandre Ivanov (-120, BetCRIS)

This is Ivanov’s first professional MMA fight.  His claim to fame, thus far, was his defeat of Fedor Emelianenko in Sambo in November of last year.  The reports are that the big question mark with Ivanov is his standup.  Nobody is sure how well he will do taking a punch.  That being said, Sambo is a very good base to have in MMA, and if he gets a hold of Fujita, he should be able to win the fight.  In addition, there is striking in the Sambo tournaments, so it’s not like he is a wrestler that has never been hit before.

Kazujuki Fujita is a well seasoned veteran of the sport.  He has wins over Bob Sapp, Gilbert Yvel, and Ken Shamrock.  He has losses to the likes of Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop (twice), Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, and Jeff Monson.  He does have some KO’s on his record, but he is much more adept at getting the takedown and winning on the ground.  The problem is that he will most likely be outmatched by Ivanov on the ground.   Therefore, his optimal path to victory will be with his striking.  That being said, most of his standup victories have come from some questionable competitors like Josh Thompson, who were willing to stand in front of him and trade shots.

Final Prediction: Go with Ivanov at -120 for 1.2 units to win 1.  The more footage I watch, the less impressed I am with Fujita.  In addition, Ivanov looks great in his Sambo matches and will have the advantage of youth and speed.


Clay French (+200, BetUS) vs Eiji Mitsuoka (-215, BetCRIS)

Clay French has the better wrestling and probably standup.  However, he has a weakness against high-level BJJ guys.  Eiji Mitsuoka is a high-level BJJ guy with descent standup.  There isn’t much edge here in the lines.

Final Prediction:  Eiji Mitsuoka will most likely win this via submission, but since the lines are pretty accurate, no action to be taken.


Choi Mu Bae (+235, Bodog) vs Yoshihiro Nakao (-255, BetCRIS)

Choi is a Greco-Roman bronze medalist who is coming off a TKO of Ed Herman.  Yoshihiro Nakao is best known for his infamous kiss of Heath Herring and following knockout.  He is also a strong wrestler that prefers to get the fight on the ground.  There is a good chance here that Choi will be able to nullify Nakao’s wrestling and get him down instead.  If they both stand and strike, it is a tossup.

Final Prediction: Choi Mu Bae is a very live underdog at +235.  So risk .5 units to win 1.175 units.


Koji Ando (+300, Bodog) vs Ikuo Usudo (-350, BetUS)

These are both very green guys that are undefeated.  Usudo is 4-0 with the most exposure and is very strong.  Ando is 2-0 and is good on the ground.  With so little information, this fight isn’t worth betting on for now.

Final Prediction:  Usudo has KOed a guy with a suplex, which is just plain badass, so I have to lean his way.  However, with so little information, it’s not worth making a bet.


Toru Harai(-185, Sportsbook) vs Shigeki Osawa (+160, Bodog)

This is another fight with very little information available.  Osawa is 2-0, all via decision.  Harai is 6-2 and has had all of his fights in DEEP.  With so little info and footage on these guys, it’s best to just let this one go by.

Final Prediction:  No action.

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