With the Featherweight Grand Prix now in completion, I suspect that I am not the only one who has been begging the question: Will Sengoku hold a welterweight tourney in near future?
Last year, Sengoku and DREAM held Grand Prix’s in the Lightweight and Middleweight divisions. This year, DREAM has held its Featherweight and Welterweight tourneys.
Sengoku has not made any announcement regarding even the possibility of holding a Welterweight GP.
Nonetheless, given the vast talent pool that the promotion can tap into domestically and internationally, following DREAM in lockstep with the tournament endeavor presents Sengoku an intriguing opportunity.
Given Sengoku’s track record of competitive matchmaking and the viable development of promising prospects, the possibility of another Grand Prix sizzles with anticipation.
The World Victory Road officials have demonstrated a knack for mining talented prospects and capable albeit underrated veterans.
In addition to forging relationships with smaller domestic shows, such as Shooto, Pancrase, and DEEP, they have extended their tentacles overseas, constantly in search of new prospects to ensure a competitive field.
Sengoku’s matchmaking magic has blossomed in the Lightweight and Middleweight Grand Prix’s. Satoru Kitaoka and Jorge Santiago, the Lightweight and Middleweight tournament winners, were largely under-appreciated veterans prior to signing with Sengoku.
In the tournaments, both fighters seized the opportunities at hand to showcase their talent. Upon snatching the tournament gold, they proceeded a step further in cementing their stardom by capturing the Lightweight and Middleweight titles: Kitaoka quickly submitted the floundering Takanori Gomi and Santiago choked out Kazuo Misaki in a five-round war.
This weekend, Sengoku: Ninth Battle saw the emergence of another rising star, Mizuto Hirota, as he seized the Lightweight crown. The Shooto veteran and a heavy underdog in the title match against Kitaoka, Hirota survived an early onslaught of takedowns and submission attempts by his foe to score an upset TKO victory in the fourth round.
Also, at Sengoku: Ninth Battle, the Featherweight Grand Prix came to a puzzling, contentious conclusion that stemmed from dubious judging and fighter withdrawal. Nevertheless, the tournament was an enthralling showcase of promising up-and-comers culled from around the world, many of whom had been little known.
A Welterweight GP would once again offer Sengoku an opportunity to provide a competitive crucible in which a cadre of hungry upstarts and veterans battle for glory.
The depth of Welterweight talent pool worldwide presents World Victory Road officials’ acute scouting eyes with a plethora of candidates. Though I am no matchmaker or scout by profession, I firmly believe in my right to pretend to be one.
Hence, the following is a list of fighters I would like Sengoku to consider for its Welterweight Grand Prix:
* Dan Hornbuckle
* Che Mills
* Kyle Pimentel
* Jake Ellenberger
* Roan Carneiro
* Luigi Fioravanti
* Ryo Chonan
* Kiuma Kunioku
* Carlo Prater
* Dave Strasser
* Fabricio Monteiro
* Nick Thompson
* Makoto Takimoto
Takimoto, Thompson, Monteiro, and Kunioku automatically warrant consideration, since barring any contractual termination that has taken place behind the curtain, they are currently on Sengoku’s roster.
Hornbuckle saw his stock skyrocket this weekend, with his highlight-reel KO of the UFC/PRIDE veteran and Japanese favorite, Akihiro Gono. The entry into the tournament will present him the opportunities to lock horns with other legitimate opponents and further his rise through the welterweight hierarchy.
Carneiro, Fioravanti, and Chonan have all been released from UFC, but established themselves as legitimate veterans. Expecting a remarkable turnaround as demonstrated by the current Middleweight Champion, Jorge Santiago, in their post-UFC career may be a tall order; however, affording them an opportunity to distinguish themselves once again constitutes a reasonable proposition.
Jake Ellenberger, Carlo Prater, and Dave Strasser are among the dozens of underrated veterans scattered throughout the North American promotions that can benefit from the exposure and competition afforded by Sengoku.
Che Mills is one of the many fresh prospects due for a major breakthrough on a world stage. He is the only fighter to have defeated the newly minted DREAM Welterweight Champion, Marius Zaromskis: Mills has defeated Zaromskis twice in a decisive fashion in the now defunct Cage Rage.
He may also appear vaguely familiar to The Ultimate Fighter viewers. In fact, Mills was among the sixteen fighters who competed for a spot on Team UK in the season nine of TUF. Despite being among the most prized of the British welterweight contestants, he unfortunately succumbed to the eventual season winner, James Wilks, in the elimination round.
Aside from Mills, a large contingent of up-and-comers around the world are striving for a breakthrough: One notable example is Kyle Pimentel, the welterweight champion of the recently discontinued Palace Fighting Championship.
If World Victory Road officials’ detector for unheralded prospects remains in top notch condition, a Welterweight GP could showcase an exquisite mix of veterans and up-and-comers.
Tags: Carlo Prater, Che Mills, Dan Hornbuckle, Jake Ellenberger, Jorge Santiago, Mixed Martial Arts, Nick Thompson, Satoru Kitaoka, Sengoku