For those that are aware ASTRA is having their first (and possibly last?) event on Sunday morning. HD Net is not airing the event, but ASTRA will broadcast the event over the Internet. Moving on, Chris Nelson of Bloodyelbow does a good job of explaining who is promoting ASTRA:
The man behind "Astra?" None other than Takahiro Kokuho, head of fighter management company J-Rock -- which numbers most of Yoshida Dojo's fighters among its clients -- and former World Victory Road/Sengoku PR director. Kokuho's acrimonious split from Sengoku at the end of last year threatened to undo the Yoshida/Ishii bout at the last minute, and even now prevents J-Rock fighters from dealings with (the organization I've affectionately termed) "Zombie Sengoku."
There are a few compelling match-ups on this card, but nothing really to get excited about other than Omigawa vs. Miller. This is a card meant to sell in Japan and I think it will do it's job. Japan needs less fragmenting and more coming together and making the MMA product better. Until promotions start working together MMA in Japan will continue to erode and we will get half-decent cards like this one on the regular. My record to this date is 37-17.
Hidehiko Yoshida vs. Kazuhiro Nakamura
The teacher versus the student, Japan likes their story-lines. Yoshida showed in his fight with Ishii that he still have a bit left in the tank. I think it is great Yoshida is leaving the game and I have to say it is pretty cool he is going out fighting his most well-known pupil. I just keep thinking this fight is going to be real boring. Even if Yoshida wanted to throw down I don't think Kaz would want to. Both fighters get most of their offensive work done in the clinch and I expect a lot of clinching in this fight. I am really going to watch two out of shape Japanese dudes clinch and gas each other out in the 1st round at 4 in the morning? Of course I am. I'm picking Nakamura in this one, though I might regret it later.
Enson Inoue vs. Antz "Notorious" Nansen
Enson Inoue must have pissed off Kokuho, I don't know what he did to draw Antz Nansen his first time out in 6 years. I don't even want to analyze this fight. Nansen seriously might give Inoue brain damage in this fight. Nansen takes it by brutal KO.
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Micah Miller
In my opinion these are the two best body punchers in the Featherweight division. Lately Omigawa has wanted to slug it out with his opponents. So far it has worked out well. It is a bad idea if he wants to try that with Miller. Right now Micah is a better striker then older brother Cole. He mixes up strikes well and for a young guy he has really found his range quite nicely. The key in this fight is will Omigawa use his wrestling. If he does he will surely win the fight. Really great match-up and kind of a tough one to call. I'm going with Omigawa because I think he can get inside on Miller.
Ryo Chonan vs. Jung Hwan Cha
Hwan hasn't fought in 2 years and is not a very good fighter. This is just a showcase fight for Chonan. I can't help but to be impressed with Chonan with his victory over Andrews Nakahara. Chonan mentioned at the press conference he is thinking about moving to 155. I think it is a bad idea. 155 is a really deep division, he would do better staying at 170. Chonan can finish this fight anywhere he wants.
Daisuke Nakamura vs. Ganjo Tentsuku
A really good match-up here, both guys are fighting to prove they are good enough to fight outside of Japan. Both guys don't have that one great skill that will finish a fight. Nakamura briefly came to the states and got soundly out grappled by Justin Wilcox. Tentsuku has never really shown me much in the striking department. Nakamura can take full advantage of Tentsuku trying to get the fight to the floor. Nakamura should use a sprawl and brawl game-plan to earn the win in this fight.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Naoyuki Kotani
Another really good compelling match-up here. Kotani is a really good submission specialist that will be looking for the finish early. This fight relies on Masvidal coming in with his head right. He can not take Kotani lightly and he can't be overly aggressive. Masvidal must be patient and look for his opportunities. Tough call, Kotani has shown he can get hit in the face and still submit his opponents. Ultimately I think Masvidal will do what he did in the Iminari fight, but Kotani has a better gas tank so this fight may be more difficult.
Yuya Shirai vs. Che Mills
Anytime Shirai has fought decent competition he has wilted under pressure. Basically if your any good you should beat Shirai. Che Mills is known for beating Dream Welterweight Champion Marius Zaromski twice. I am really unsure if Che Mills is any good. So this is a fantastic measuring stick for him. Mills thrives in the clinch, look for this to be the deciding factor in the fight.
Atsunao Nagakura vs. Akihiko Mouri
Mouri is best known for getting soccer kicked in the face by Maximo Blanco in Sengoku. Both are really terrible fighters. This bout and the ones preceding it are just card filler. I like Mouri in this fight because he is not completely terrible and has better striking than Nagakura.
Yusuke Sakashita vs. Kenji Nagai
Sakashita is an average fighter that has some really punishing ground and pound. Sakashita doesn't have a great chin. so it makes him susceptible to getting knocked out. Fortunately for Sakashita, Nagai doesn't have the tools to threaten him. I like Sakashita big here.
Ryosuke Komori vs. Takumi Murata
Komori was being tagged as the next great fighter out of Yoshida Dojo. Unfortunately Komori has taken a few losses and so has his momentum. Murata is a really bad fighter that gets a lot of work in Japan. This is Komori's fight to lose. He can win anywhere he wants.