'King Mo,' Hioki reign at Sengoku 7

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World Victory Road kicked off the year with Sengoku Seventh Battle at Yoyogia National Stadium in Tokyo. The first round of the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix and the return of "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal highlighted the night.

In the main event of the evening, Lawal turned in a dominating performance against the light heavyweight King of Pancrase, Ryo Kawamura. From the onset, he was able to takedown Kawamura at will, nullifying most of Kawamura's offense throughout the fight. Lawal threw Kawamura around like a rag doll, landing the occasional ground and pound. When given a chance, Kawamura would swing for the fences, but Lawal would duck under and take him down. Lawal simply dominated the fight and was never in any real danger of losing. He would end up winning a unanimous decision.

Tournament favorite Hatsu Hioki made it look easy against WEC veteran ChrisManuel, submitting him late in the opening round. Hioki wasted no time and took the fight to the ground, where he used his slick grappling to position himself for submission attempts. Manuel escaped on several occasions, but was eventually overwhelmed by Hioki, who locked in a triangle from mount then transitioned to an armbar that forced Manuel to tap at 4:12 of the first round.

Strikeforce veteran Nam Phan made his featherweight debut by knocking out former Shooto lightweight champion Hideki Kadowaki in what turned out to be a slugfest. The two fighters traded punches all throughout the fight as Kadowaki winged punches to the head, while Phan worked both the head and body. It paid off as Phan's technical striking took over. He landed a big right hook that dropped Kadowaki before finishing him up with strikes, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 3:09 of the first round.

Heavyweights slugged it out in the first non-tournament bout as Jim York knocked out James Thompson. The two fighters traded punches with York getting in a solid punch that dropped Thompson, who was able to recover shortly after. Thompson then hurt York, but York clinched up and recovered. As the round was coming to an end, York landed a left straight that put Thompson down for the night at 4:33 of the opening round.

In a big upset, UFC veteran Michihiro Omigawa dominated IFL veteran L.C. Davis en route to a unanimous decision. Omigawa was able to take Davis down throughout the fight and dominated him on the ground with slick grappling, attempting several submissions. Davis never was able to mount any effective offense, as Omigawa controlled the fight throughout and won a unanimous decision to advance to the second round.

Featherweight King of Pancrase Marlon Sandro used crafty technique to choke out King of the Cage veteran Matt Jaggers. Sandro instantly scored a takedown to start the fight and looked to impose his will on Jaggers, but the crafty American was able to escape on several occasions in the opening round. Once again, Sandro got the takedown to start the second round and started working for a side choke. Jaggers got back to his feet, but was soon caught in a standing side choke that put him to sleep and ended his night at 2:57 of the second round.

ZST veteran Masanori Kanehara advanced to the second round of the tournament after winning a workman like decision over Korean fighter Jong Man Kim. Kanehara stuck by a solid strategy of landing low kicks and following up with effective combinations. On the ground, the fighters nullified one another, as neither did anything rather effective. Kim got his licks in, but it was Kanehara who landed the better shots of the two, winning a unanimous decision.

In what turned out to be a total slugfest, Korean wunderkind Chan Sung Jung choked out Shooto product Shintaro Ishiwatari. Neither fighter wasted anytime as they started to trade right off the bat with Jung dropping Ishiwatari, who was able to recover and get back to his feet. From this point, Ishiwatari started getting the better of the exchanges, landing the cleaner and harder shots of the two fighters. As the fight entered the last minute of the opening round, Jung hurt Ishiwatari with a right hand and followed up with more punches before getting Ishiwatari's back. He secured the choke to force the tap from Ishiwatari at 4:29 of the opening round.

British fighter Ronnie Mann won a decision over 18-year-old ZST veteran Tetsuya Yamada in a back and forth ground affair. The two fighters traded positions on the ground throughout with Yamada looking for submissions and Mann landing strikes from the top. When it was all said and done, Mann had effectively outworked Yamada for all three rounds, winning a unanimous decision to advance to the next round.

In the opening fight of the night, King of the Cage bantamweight champion NickDenis stopped Pancrase standout Seiya Kawahara with strikes. Denis was the first to strike, dropping Kawahara with a high kick, but he was able to recover and get back to his feet. He was met with a barrage of knees, which forced him to clinch. The pair would separate and start to trade with Denis landing a devastating left-right combination that dropped Kawahara. Denis followed it up with knees and punches on a vulnerable Kawahara, forcing his corner to throw in the towel, halting the fight at 2:36 of the opening round.

SENGOKU 7 RESULTS:-"King Mo" Muhammed Lawal def. Ryo Kawamura by Unanimous Decision, R3 -Hatsu Hioki def. Chris Manuel by Submission (Armbar) at 4:12, R1 -Nam Phan def. Hideki Kadowaki by KO at 3:09, R1 -Jim York def. James Thompson by KO at 4:33, R1 -Michihiro Omigawa def. LC Davis by Unanimous Decision, R3 -Marlon Sandro def. Matt Jaggers by Submission (Side Choke) at 2:57, R2 -Masanori Kanehara def. Jong Man Kim by Unanimous Decision, R3 -Chan Sung Jung def. Shintaro Ishiwatari by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:29, R1 -Ronnie Man def. Tetsuya Yamada by Unanimous Decision, R3 -Nick Denis def. Seiya Kawahara by TKO at 2:36, R1