Imanari is a kindred spirit with Shinya Aoki when it comes to off-kilter habits outside the realm of fighting -- their bizarre 2009 coach-school girl photo-op is a testament to that. While he might not be as universally recognized as Rousimar Palhares for his leg locks, the man can definitely snatch some limbs. At no time was this more evident than at Deep 22 in 2005, when he gruesomely dislocated future WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown’s knee with a submission. In addition, some would say Jorge Gurgel never moved quite the same after falling victim to an Imanari heel hook in 2003.
Had “Ashikan Judan” been doing his leg lock routine in the UFC all this time, he would have already achieved more than just a loyal cult following and very likely forced more than a few athletic commission-mandated suspensions. Though he lacks the stump-like build of Palhares, Imanari attacks the leg with a flamboyant ferocity, and 10 of his 16 submission victories have come by some variation of leg lock.
Like Aoki, Imanari is very limited as a standup fighter, making him much less imposing on the feet. Still, it is no secret where the slender Tokyo native wants to take a fight and what he wants to do once he gets there. As he recently told Bloody Elbow, Imanari loves leg locks “because it hurts the opponent.”
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