The event, which sources have told Sherdog.com has gone considerably over budget, has been hit with nearly every planning problem imaginable. It was supposed to feature four quarterfinals in the 135-pound tournament and the remaining two quarterfinals in the 145-pound tournament.
However, there were immense struggles finalizing the bantamweight tournament field, which led to the promotion scrambling for an eighth fighter to finish the bracket. An injury to Takeya Mizugaki (Pictures) forced his quarterfinal bout with Robson Moura (Pictures) to be postponed to June, at which point Moura demanded more money and was removed from the card. After Moura's removal and Mizugaki's injury, 135-pound tournament entrant Katsuya Toida (Pictures) was injured in training, postponing his quarterfinal bout with Daichi Fujiwara (Pictures).
In the 145-pound bracket, both quarterfinal bouts were struck down. Unspecified logistical issues led to the bout between Armando Sanchez and Adrian Pang (Pictures) being cancelled, and Yuji Hoshino (Pictures) sustained an injury in training that nixed his bout with Antonio Carvalho (Pictures).
However, the show will go on, incredibly.
Carvalho was expected to be in action in a non-tournament bout against Kyoto native Kosuke Eda (Pictures), but the bout was nixed at the last minute. Daichi Fujiwara (Pictures) will remain on the card, taking on Tetsu Suzuki (Pictures), who was victorious and unscathed in his March 28 win over Hiroyuki Tanaka (Pictures) in Shooto.
The evening's main event will pit Tomonari Kanomata (Pictures) against the once highly touted Mizuto Hirota (Pictures) for Cage Force's lightweight title, which was vacated by Artur Oumakhanov (Pictures), who defected to Dream.
Oumakhanov defeated Kanomata in last year's lightweight championship tournament amidst much controversy. An accidental headbutt broke Kanomata's nose, leaving him unable to continue and strangely giving Oumakhanov the TKO victory.
Hirota, the 2005 Shooto rookie champion at 154 pounds, began his career 6-0 and looked like the next great lightweight from Shooto until he suffered back-to-back losses to Takashi Nakakura (Pictures) and Ganjo Tentsuku (Pictures). He has since rebounded with two wins in Cage Force, knocking out South Korea's Do Gi Sin (Pictures) in December and France's Johnny Frachey (Pictures) in February.
In the first of two 135-pound quarterfinals Saturday that weren't sabotaged, former Shooto world champion Masahiro Oishi (Pictures) will take on Paul McVeigh (Pictures), arguably the United Kingdom's strongest bantamweight. The 39-year-old Oishi has won his last three bouts, with his most recent match being a submission victory over Artemij Sitenkov in Lithuania this past November. McVeigh, a winner of eight of his last nine, is undefeated at 135 pounds.
In the other 135-pound quarterfinal, GCM mainstay Taiyo Nakahara (Pictures) will meet Kingdom Ehrgeiz torchbearer Ryota Uozomi. Nakahara broke a miserable 2-5 stretch in February, submitting Motonobu Tezuka with a nasty kneebar in just 67 seconds. Ryota, the protege of indie MMA cult figure Hidetada Irie (Pictures), has competed largely in the confines of Kingdom Ehrgeiz. He is perhaps the most definitive dark horse in the 135-pound bracket due to his inexperience outside of his obscure home promotion.
Sherdog.com has learned that in order to rectify the chaotic tournament picture, Carvalho and Hoshino will meet on Cage Force's June 22 card at Differ Ariake. Their bout will be situated as a tournament semifinal, and the winner will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Akiyo Nishiura (Pictures) and Takeshi Yamazaki (Pictures).
Likewise, Fujiwara and Toida will contest their 135-pound quarterfinal on the same card, and Mizugaki will meet an undetermined foe in the final bantamweight quarterfinal to stabilize the tournament.
Hashi Lands in L.A. for Bout with Buckner
A week rife with quality MMA continues Thursday with one of Japan's top female competitors taking on her biggest test to date. Smackgirl champion Takayo Hashi (Pictures) will fight female star Amanda Buckner (Pictures) on Fatal Femmes Fighting's fourth offering from the Shrine Expo Center in Los Angeles.
Hashi, who sports a 10-1 record in MMA, hasn't fought since she captured Smackgirl's 128-pound title in September. In that bout, she took a hotly contested decision over Hitomi Akano (Pictures) and in the process avenged the sole loss of her career.
Buckner has lost but once in her last nine bouts, with that defeat coming to Tara Larosa (Pictures) in a sensational August 2006 contest. Since that bout, Buckner has knocked off Julie Kedzie (Pictures), and most recently she took a commanding decision over the aforementioned Hitomi Akano (Pictures) last April.