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Sengoku IX: Featherweight Grand Prix preview

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Sengoku IX will play host to the semifinals and final of the company's featherweight grand prix.

What started March 20 at Sengoku 7 will conclude tomorrow in Japan.

One semifinal fight features tournament underdog Michihiro Omigawa against Marlon Sandro while the other has tournament favorite Hatsu Hioki against Masanori Kanehara.

For my breakdown of the tournament, click after the jump.

Sengoku IX coverage

Michihiro Omigawa vs. Marlon Sandro

Omigawa is certainly the dark horse of the tournament, having received the toughest fights in both the first and second rounds to even get to the semifinals.

In the first round, Omigawa upset L.C. Davis by decision, handing Davis just his second professional loss.

In the second round, Omigawa again pick up a big upset with a first round TKO win over Nam Pham.

After washing out of the UFC with back-to-back losses to Matt Wiman and Thiago Tavares, Omigawa has seen a career renaissance since moving to featherweight in Sengoku, even though these two latest wins haven't been able to push his career record above .500.

To push his record to .500, he has a tough test in the undefeated Marlon Sandro, who ran through both Matt Jaggers (arm-triangle choke) and Nick Denis (19 second KO) to get to the final night.

Sandro brings a well-rounded game to the table, but Omigawa has never been submitted and has only been knocked out in the first two fights of his career (against Aaron Riley and JZ Calvancante).

This is going to be a tough fight for Omigawa, who despite looking better at featherweight than he ever has, won't be able to keep the upset streak alive.

This one has decision written all over it and I see Sandro remaining undefeated and moving to the final.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Masanori Kanehara

Hioki came into this tournament as the clear-cut favorite and he has not disappointed in the first two rounds, running through both Chris Manuel (triangle/armbar) and Ronnie Mann (triangle choke) in the first round.

Hioki, the TKO featherweight champion, brings a well-rounded game into his tournament semifinal bout with Masanori Kanehara.

Hioki has never been finished and two of his three losses have been by split decision. Since losing two straight split decisions in 2007, Hioki is undefeated in eight fights, including finishing his last four fights, including a TKO win over Shooto legend Rumina Sato in November.

Kanehara comes into this fight with a 13-5-5 record (yes, five draws. Thank you ZST).

Kanehara got here with decision wins over Jong Man Kim and Chan Sung Jung.

This should not be too big of a test for Hioki. Expect Hioki to control the first round and take over the second round and lock in another of his patented triangle chokes for the win.

Sandro vs. Hioki

I fully expect Omigawa to give Sandro a run in their fight while Hioki should cruise past Kanehara.

This means Sandro will not be at 100 percent heading into this fight. Hioki, however, should be near full strength. This is one of those finals where you wish it wasn't a one-night tournament. This would be a great fight if the tournament extended to Sengoku 10, but it doesn't.

Hioki was the odds-on favorite to win this tournament for a reason. He's not going to lose to Sandro and will be crowned the champion with a dominating decision win.