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Jorge Santiago vacates Sengoku belt, wants better competition

By Zach Arnold | February 10, 2011

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Video by and Ariel Helwani

The man from American Top Team who last year had a Fight of the Year bout at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo with Kazuo Misaki is free of his contract with Sengoku. He was one of their champions. He asked for his release so he could fight in the States. They obliged. That doesn’t sound like a good deal for Sengoku, does it? In this interview with Mr. Helwani, Mr. Santiago says that he’s ran out of good guys to fight in Japan and he wants to fight in the UFC or Strikeforce. He will quickly be picked up by one of those two promotions, probably Strikeforce, and be given a chance to see if he’s a top tier fighter right now.

For Sengoku to give him an unconditional release is an indication of how poor their situation must be right now. As with the pro-wrestling scene there in the 90s, you can foresee a collapse coming when the foreigners aren’t getting paid or are being allowed to work elsewhere. Japan always has prided itself on paying top money for foreign talent. Once that practice stop, usually bad things are coming.

Things continue to get worse for the Sumo Association

Speaking of Ryogoku Kokugikan, that’s the home base for the Sumo Association in Japan. Another day, another turn in the scandal that is tainting Sumo as we know it. As expected, some are coming out of the woodwork claiming that match-fixing is nothing new. There is now some calls for privatizing Sumo and getting it off the backs of taxpayers in Japan. Mark Schilling in The Wall Street Journal says that corruption in Sumo won’t change until the financial structure is altered. Things have gotten so bad that the Sumo Association has halted talks on getting a specialized tax status.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the Sumo Association will lose up to 1.4 billion Yen. The current yokozuna, Hakuho, continues to see TV commercials featuring his presence get yanked off of networks.

With the cell phones of Sumo wrestlers allegedly involved in the cheating scandal being destroyed or damaged, police are using new-age techniques to recover deleted e-mails. How difficult is the process? The Yomiuri Shimbun says it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not data such as old, deleted e-mails can be recovered on the phones.

So, what kind of financial punishment are the alleged cheaters facing? Naturally, none.

Topics: Japan, Media, MMA, Sengoku, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

16 Responses to “Jorge Santiago vacates Sengoku belt, wants better competition”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    1) Santiago will likely sign with SF as they have more incentive to sign him and he doesn’t seem like the type of fighter that is confident enough in his skills to want to fight the best in the division. Let’s out it this way, he isn’t saying Jake Shields type of stuff right now. Which isn’t shocking. The guy who got beat up by Leben and Belcher has no business being Top 10 in any rankings when he doesn’t have the quality wins to do it.

    2) I hope some of the Sengoku lighter guys cone to the UFC. Much like Kid and Omigawa, they likely won’t do much but it will give the division some more depth which is always nice.

    • Nicholai says:

      45 Huddle, I’m sorry to disagree with you about Jorge Santiago not being top 10. I guess Anderson Silva should not be top 10 as well for his loss to Ryo Chonan. Does that make any sense to you?

      Just Curious about trying to understand your logic about Jorge Santiago not being considered top 10 in middleweight rankings. Didn’t he beat Kazuo Misaki twice and Maybe I’m way of base. Anyone can be beat in MMA.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Silva has many wins since his loss to showcase his rankings.

        Beating Kazuo Misaki in 2010 should not give anybody a Top 10 ranking. Misaki hasn’t been relevant for years.

      • Jorge has been ranked in the top ten for a couple years now. He was there before the Misaki win, in fact. What dropped him and had people arguing that he didn’t belong was the Khalidov loss, which he promptly got back.

        There simply aren’t ten fighters who’ve beaten consistently better opposition over the last year. Where people like 45 go then is by just elevating UFC guys because they fight in the UFC.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Just because he has been poorly ranked for a few years doesn’t make it any less wring. He lost to the Leben caliber guys in the UFC an since then hasn’t done anything to increase his rankings. Heck, guys like Belcher, Bisping, and other mid tier UFC Middleweights should be ranked above him. Not because they are in the UFC, but because they have the wins to prove.

          You don’t see Chris Leben in the top 10 for beating Akiyama. Then you shouldn’t see Santiago in the Top 10 for beating guys like Misaki.

        • edub says:

          The thing is his reputation was built on winning the Strikeforce one night tournament against Sean Salmon and trevor Prangley. Those wins we now know (or should know) shouldn’t have ever elevated him into the top 10. After that he won the Sengoku MW tournament where his best wins are Kazuo Misaki and Kazuhiro Nakamura (neither are top ten guys).

          He’s an exciting fighter with a well rounded skill set, but it is my opinion that he never belonged in the top ten. WHich has nothing to do with him not being in the UFC (which is apparently the only reason Alan jumped in this conversation).

          This is my personal top 10: Anderson, Okami, Jake(at least until his second fight at WW), Nate, Maia, Jacare, Henderson (at least until his next fight at LHW), Belfort, Bisping, Belcher. I would also have the winners of Manhoef-Kennedy and Silva-Stann above him if those fights fights take place. Lawler or him would be a toss up.

          He’s only one good win (Lawler, Manhoef, Miller, Belcher, Leben, Stann, W. Silva, Palhares, Kennedy, Etc.) away from 8,9,10 though.

        • This is ridiculous. People get and things change. For the same reason Jeremy Horn doesn’t get ranked above Chael Sonnen, Belcher and his one eye wouldn’t get ranked above Santiago at this stage of both men’s careers. Arguing that Prangley wasn’t a good win in 2007 because of how he performs now when he’s almost 40 is a joke. I can’t even take that sort of response seriously except to assume that you’re looking to further some sort of weird motive.

          185 is a wasteland and Santiago’s run in the last 3 years is a lot, lot better than Chris Leben’s, for example.

        • edub says:

          Oh really, because he was so much better when he was almost 37! You’re probably right, wins over guys like Anthony Ruiz, Yuki Kondo, and Andrei Semenov sent him shooting up the rankings in 2007. Oh wait, no they didn’t. Prangley had an Identical record in the 6 fights leading up to the Santiago fight that he had leading up to the Kennedy fight not even a year ago.

          In Belcher’s last 5 fights he’s 4-1 with a disputed draw to Yoshihiro Akiyama. In that span he’s beaten Patrick Cote, Wilson Gouveia, Denis Kang, and Ed Herman. That rundown is better than Kazuo Misaki 2x, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and splitting with Mamed khalidov.

          This logic (above) is not ridiculous.

          “For the same reason Jeremy Horn doesn’t get ranked above Chael Sonnen, Belcher and his one eye wouldn’t get ranked above Santiago at this stage of both men’s careers.”

          This logic is.

        • Kondo, Semenov, and Ruiz were still acceptable journeymen names at that point. Kondo’s stature from his success in Pancrase and Semenov’s performances for the UFC and PRIDE meant that he was plenty relevant. Is he as relevant now that he’s been retired for a couple years? No. But don’t go pretending that a guy who has wins over Kampmann and Almedia was some sort of joke. He was a perfectly respectable fighter and a guy who, circa 2007, was the sort of name you’d want on your ledger if you wanted to demand entry into the shifting middleweight sands.

          As for Belcher: I’d say his wins are at best equal since that fight occurred, but the the losses to Grove and Day have to figure in too. I mean, hey, if we want to play MMA-math, Santiago beat Horn who had beaten Sonnen. Sonnen’s best wins additionally come now with the spectre of steroid use.

        • edub says:

          The wins you speak of would’ve been a little bit better better circa 2005. In 2007 every single on of em were already past their prime. I can’t agree with the thought that those wins and Santiago’s are equal. Cote is the best opponent out of everyone IMO.

          As for Sonnen you are correct. That is why I didn’t put him in my top ten. Knowing what we know now he was probably doing that for a while, and as a fanbase we probably should have been more attentive to that fact.

  2. cutch says:

    To be fair, Misaki also lost to Frank Trigg & Melvin Manhoef, who are hardly top guys at 185 and his biggest wins are Dan Henderson, who never really looks great at MW and who had already beaten him and the over rated Denis Kang.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Remember when Denis Kang was the “it” guy at 185…I even bought the hype for a while. The wool was pulled over our eyes badly.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        All of the hyped Japanese guys have looked average in the UFC over the last 3+ years.

      • dragomort says:

        Heck, I even remember back when we were being sold Vitor Belfort as THE credible top-185lb challenger when his only wins at the weight were over an elderly Lindland and Martin coming off his first win in a year over Takase! He had even lost to that ‘not impressive at 185’ guy in Henderson!

        We were crazy kids back then :p

      • He stopped winning when his fiancee wound up dead of drugs. Draw your own conclusions.

    • Chael Sonnen lost to Jeremy Horm three times and got stopped by Terry Martin then rose to prominence only to get nailed for PEDs. Paulo Filho was the linear champion in the eyes of many. You know what all of this indicates? 185 has been a complete mess and a weak ass division for pretty much the whole history of MMA, right from when such forgotten men like Masanori Suda and Dave Menne were champs. Its the easiest division to pick on right now too since almost everyone involved at the top level with it 5 years ago either died, retired, got a drug habit, is 40 or over, or moved up to light heavyweight.


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