Former two division King of Pancrase Kiuma Kunioku will return to action on October 9th at Fury 2 in Macau. The submission specialist will face Golden Glory representative Vincent Latoel in a featured bout on the card and will look to pick up his fourth win in his last five fights.
Also on the card, recent Strikeforce signee Carina “Beauty But The Beast” Damm will square off with Mongolian wrestler Esui, while Grabaka veteran Eiji Ishikawa takes on UFC veteran Jess “The Joker” Liaudin. Sources close to the event confirmed all three fights with MMARising.com.
Kunioku (34-23-9), one of the original pioneers of the Pancrase promotion, made his mixed martial arts debut on January 28, 1996. He went on to score notable victories over the likes of Guy Mezger, Kei Yamamiya (twice), Frank Shamrock, Masakatsu Funaki, Yuki Kondo, Genki Sudo and current UFC contender Nate Marquardt. Along the way, Kunioku became both the Middleweight and Welterweight King of Pancrase and held the titles simultaneously for over a year. Sixteen of his wins have come by stoppage and he sports a 1-1 record for Sengoku Raiden Championships. He competed for Pancrase an incredible 55 times.
Latoel (13-14-2), a pro for nearly nine years, began his career with a dismal 1-7-1 record but went on to win ten of his next eleven fights. Sporting a nasty guillotine choke and solid striking, he has competed primarily in events sponsored by Golden Glory or Shooto divisions in Europe. He fell victim to a pair of guillotine chokes himself last year, as he was stopped by both Tommy Depret and recent UFC signee Williamy “Chiquerim” Freire. Latoel now finds himself in the midst of another tough spot in his career and has won just twice in his last nine fights, but a victory over the established veteran Kunioku would easily be his biggest to date.
Damm (15-4-0) recently made her Strikeforce debut in the promotion’s inaugural Women’s Welterweight (135-Pound) Grand Prix, but fell victim to a triangle armbar from Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano in the opening round. The loss snapped a ten-fight winning streak that saw Damm defeat Molly Helsel, Bellator tournament contender Jessica Aguilar and Ana Maria “India” (twice) over the course of three years. Damm’s fight for Strikeforce was her first in North America since a 2008 suspension following a positive test for steroids, but she has turned her career around.
Esui (0-1-0), a former wrestler in Mongolia, was scheduled to face Jewels postergirl Shizuka Sugiyama in a shootboxing match at Jewels: “Ninth Ring,” but the bout was changed after Sugiyama suffered an injury. Esui instead made her pro MMA debut against Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki and was submitted late in the first round. While she lacks experience in mixed martial arts, Esui’s varied combat sports background could pose an interesting test for Damm and an Esui victory would be a major upset.
Sources tell MMARising.com that Kim “Sugar Free” Couture (2-3-0) was contacted to compete in the women’s bout on the Fury 2 card, but reportedly asked for a very large amount of money and first-class plane tickets, and was subsequently turned down.
Ishikawa (20-16-0), a ten-year veteran of the sport, also made his name competing in Pancrase. He holds noted wins over Ryo Chonan, Ryuta Sakurai, Hidetaka Monma, Hidehiko Hasegawa, Katsuya Inoue and former Sengoku Lightweight Champion Satoru Kitaoka. Ishikawa has faced some of MMA’s top middleweights and welterweights, but came up short in five straight fights from 2006 to 2008. He has since rebounded with five wins in his last six fights, but only six of Ishikawa’s victories have come inside the distance. He will face an aggressive opponent in the Fury 2 bout.
Liaudin (18-11-0) was a relative journeyman in Western Europe before making his UFC debut at UFC 70 in April of 2007. He won his first two fights inside the Octagon, but suffered a crushing one-punch KO loss to Marcus Davis at UFC 80. After two more decision defeats, Liaudin was cut from the promotion and has since won four fights in a row. All but two of Liaudin’s wins have come by stoppage and he is well-versed in a variety of submissions. A victory over Ishikawa would be a solid one for Liaudin, but it remains to be seen whether he will ever find his way back to the UFC.
Fury 2 takes place on October 9th at the City of Dreams Grand Hyatt Ballroom in Cotai, Macau.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)