KOTC Champions Compete in Japan
Two King of the Cage Champions – bantamweight (135 lbs.) champion Abel Cullum and KOTC Canada featherweight (145 lbs.) champion Nick Denis, have advanced to the next round of their respective tournaments in Japan.
Cullum (14-2), a native of New Mexico, defeated Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura (9-4-1) by unanimous decision in the opening round of the Dream Featherweight (139 lbs.) Grand Prix, which was held on March 8th at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The match was a back-and-forth scramble for control in which Cullum kept the pressure on Nishiura throughout 15 minutes with numerous submission attempts and powerful overhand rights.
“My first time fighting in Japan was definitely a dream come true. It exceeded everything I ever imagined. It was all that and then some,” said the KOTC champ in an interview after his return.
Cullum now advances to the tournament quarter-finals, facing Hideo Tokoro (21-16-1), who replaces Daiki “DJ.taiki” Hata (11-5-3). This event takes place on May 26th at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.
When asked about his thoughts on the next round of the tournament, the self-made submission specialist commented “I’ve been training my butt off. I’m working hard here. . . I know [Tokoro] has been fighting a long time and he’s gone the distance with some big names. . . I just want to go over there and do my best to represent King of the Cage, myself, and my camp.”
Also in the tournament are WEC veterans Yoshihiro Maeda (24-6-2) and Hiroyuki Takaya (10-6-1), DEEP and Cage Rage champion Masakazu Imanari (16-6-1), former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Joe Warren (1-0), and Japanese superstar Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (17-1, 1 NC), who received a bye in the tournament’s opening round.
As for Nick Denis (7-0), the KOTC Canada featherweight champion was one of 16 entries in the Sengoku Featherweight (143 lbs.) Grand Prix, which kicked off on March 20th at Yoyogi Gym in Tokyo, Japan. Denis defeated Seiya Kawahara via first-round TKO, his sixth victory by KO / TKO.
The self-proclaimed “Ninja of Love” last defended his KOTC Canada featherweight title against Josh Kyrejto, winning by TKO at 4:59 of the first round.
Interestingly enough, Denis was not the only KOTC veteran on the bill, as Nam Phan (15-5, 6-0 in KOTC), also advanced to the second round of the tournament. Phan, who went 6-0 during his 2005-2006 reign in King of the Cage, duplicated Denis’ victory with a first round TKO of Hideki Kadowaki.
Sengoku returns to Yoyogi Gym on May 2nd for the next round of their tournament. Phan is scheduled to face DEEP veteran Michihiro Omigawa, while Denis will face Marlon Sandro in a match that pits KOTC vs. Pancrase champions.