Former two-division King of Pancrase Kiuma Kunioku has stepped in on a week’s notice to face knockout artist Maximo “Maxi” Blanco at Sengoku Raiden Championship 15 on October 30th in Tokyo, Japan. Kunioku will replace Leonardo Santos, who withdrew from the fight earlier this week.
Kunioku’s participation in the fight was confirmed to MMARising.com by his manager, Shu Hirata, earlier today. A veteran of 66 fights, Kunioku has not competed since March when he was upset by Santos at SRC 12, but he had won three straight fights prior to the submission defeat.
Kunioku (34-23-9), the first man to ever hold King of Pancrase titles in two different weight classes at the same time, has competed in mixed martial arts since January 28, 1996. The grappler holds 13 submission victories and has beaten notable fighters such as Guy Mezger, Frank Shamrock, Yuki Kondo, Genki Sudo and current UFC contender Nate Marquardt during his career. In his most recent outing, Kunioku was unable to match the striking of his younger opponent, Santos, and eventually succumbed to a rear-naked choke. He will now look to get a measure of revenge when he steps in for Santos against Blanco, a vicious striker.
Blanco (6-2-1, 1 NC) will give up a tremendous amount of experience to the well-travelled Kunioku, but he holds a significant edge in both striking power and speed. All six of Blanco’s victories have come by a form of knockout and one of his two losses, a disqualification for an illegal soccer kick, would have been Blanco’s seventh KO win had he not thrown the kick to an already unconscious Akihiko Mori. Known for his wild and sometimes reckless fighting style, Blanco is a fan favourite and one of the top lightweight prospects in Sengoku. A victory over the veteran Kunioku could propel him into a title fight.
Sengoku Raiden Championship 15 takes place on October 30th at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. The event will air live on HDNet.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)