Aoki and Kitaoka -- who share time on the mat as part of an
informal group of Japanese grapplers dubbed Nippon Top Team -- both
turned in scintillating submissions within just days of each other,
remodeling the lightweight division in the process. It took Aoki
just 92 seconds to spoil a sensational 2008 campaign for Eddie
Alvarez with a nasty heel hook at K-1 “Premium 2008 Dynamite”
on New Year’s Eve. Four days later, Kitaoka needed less than two
minutes to Achilles lock former divisional king Takanori
Gomi to the fringes of relevance and claim Sengoku’s
Kitaoka was not the only fighter to claim Sengoku gold, however.
Santiago continued his outstanding winning streak, as he
chalked up his ninth straight stoppage with a thrilling
come-from-behind submission against Kazuo Misaki
and took the upstart Japanese promotion’s middleweight crown. His
run has all but erased memories of the back-to-back knockout losses
that ousted him from the UFC.