Manabu Inoue (2nd from left) and Koji Oishi brought home Pancrase titles. | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
TOKYO -- Opening Japan’s Golden Week Holiday Tuesday evening, Koji Oishi topped Daisuke “13” Hanazawa for the third time to become the new lightweight King of Pancrase in the main event of Pancrase’s“Impressive Tour 4” at Differ Ariake.
Oishi and Hanazawa previously met in 2003 and 2005, with Oishi winning both encounters. This time, however, the pair vied for the 155-pound title vacated by Maximo Blanco in April.
The first frame saw both men fighting mostly in the clinch. Hanazawa eventually transitioned to a rear waist-lock for the latter half of the period, throwing knees to the legs of his foe from behind, while referee Ryogaku Wada repeatedly warned Oishi for leaning out of the ropes.
After receiving a warning for unintentional head-butting -- a problem both men had, as Oishi’s natural instinct was to duck his head while Hanazawa, ducking his own, lunged into a punch -- Oishi brutalized the midsection of Hanazawa in the clinch. When up against the ropes, Oishi went to town, punching repeatedly at the Okinawa-based fighter’s guts.
The pattern established, Oishi continued to hunt for openings to further bruise up Hanazawa’s belly in the third stanza and was largely successful, otherwise sealing himself the fight to take the title.
Despite strange 30-30 scores from judges Masato Fukuda and Kenji Kosuge, both ruled in favor of Oishi in the “must decision,” while judge Yoshinori Umeki ruled the bout 30-28 for Oishi.
“My win tonight is the first win for Pancraseism fighters this year. It’s worrying, like, what are we all about?” said an emotional Oishi post-fight. “So many fighters above me in the gym have already ‘graduated’ from Pancrase. Myself and the fighters below, we now have to make a greater effort to get wins.”
The 33-year-old Oishi’s display of visceral emotion garnered several shouts of agreement from the crowd, which eventually turned to cheers when Oishi faced fellow Pancraseism fighter and front man Ryo Kawamura, imploring him, “From here on out, please do me a good turn in training.”
Almost two and a half years removed from their first fight, Manabu Inoue scraped by Seiya Kawahara yet again to keep the title of bantamweight King of Pancrase.
Kawahara spent the first period punishing the champ with hard low kicks, quickly discoloring his legs. Inoue almost closed out the round on Kawahara’s back, but the challenger reversed and land several punches moments before the bell.
The tide seemed to turn even further toward the challenger in the second frame, as a more physical Kawahara stuffed takedowns and wrangled Inoue to the canvas with brute strength. On the floor, Kawahara racked up further punches, but had difficulty keeping Inoue underneath him.
The champ’s best round came in the third, where his relentless push for takedowns on a fatigued and fading Kawahara saw him alternately dragging Kawahara to the mat or taking his back.
By bout’s end, judges Kosuge and Fukuda scored the bout a curious 30-29 for the champion, while judge Wada scored it an even 29-29. Though a close fight, Sherdog.com saw the contest for the challenger, 29-28.
“It was my style of fight,” Inoue briefly stated after thanking his supporters. “I want to continue making the effort to fight like a champion.”
In the evening’s sole women’s attraction, Valkyrie 115-pound champion Mei Yamaguchi submitted Akiko Naito in the first round. The slightly taller Naito set the tone early with low kicks and jabs to the face of “V.V Mei,” who had to lunge with counter punches which often did not connect. As “Betiko” continued to find success with the low kick, her reliance on the attack soon became a liability, as Yamaguchi timed and caught a leg to force the takedown. The fight was Yamaguchi’s then, as she shellacked Naito with punches before falling back into the armbar for the tap at 3:52 of the first.
Three Advance in Lightweight Grand Prix; Kotani Disqualified
In Pancrase’s 2011 lightweight tournament quarterfinals, Kazuki Tokudome advanced over Hiroki “AB” Aoki after three rounds of takedowns and ground-and-pound. In between punches and hammer fists, Tokudome even managed to throw in several soccer kick and stomp attempts, though they mostly grazed rather than connect square. Judges Umeki, Wada, and Kosuge ruled the contest 30-29, 30-28 and 30-28, all for Tokudome.
Kota Okazawa blasted former lightweight and interim welterweight King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue into unconsciousness in their tourney bout. The first few moments saw both men trade single punches and low kicks until Okazawa caught an errant Inoue kick to plant a brain-melting counter in his face. Okazawa landed one more punch, bouncing Inoue’s head on the canvas before referee Fukuda could dive in for the save at 2:42 of the first.
Isao Kobayashi and Yukinari “Hibiki” Tamura’s quarterfinal bout was largely contested in the wrestling department. Kobayashi pulled ahead in the second and third frames after getting takedowns to drop punches to Tamura’s head and belly. Outside of a strange 30-30 must decision from judge Wada, judges Kosuge and Umeki turned in slightly more defensible 30-29 cards for Kobayashi.
The Tomoyoshi Iwamiya-Naoyuki Kotani tournament tilt was a non-event, as Kotani had been disqualified earlier in the day for coming in over the 155-pound weight limit. The ZST veteran weighed in at 157.6 pounds at Monday's official weigh-ins and was unable to make weight on the day of the event, reportedly coming in at 157.2 pounds.
The tournament semifinals on August 7 will see Kobayashi square off with Iwamiya, while Tokudome will meet Okazawa.
Ishiwatari Draws ‘Akai’ in Heated Pancrase Debut
Sengoku and Shooto veteran Shintaro Ishiwatari and Tashiro “Akai” Nishiuchi had a sizzling standup war that ended in an awkward split draw courtesy of judge “Chiba” Umeki. For the first two frames, a retreating Ishiwatari punished Nishiuchi with stiff jabs and swiping hooks. Nishiuchi was too slow and had too little reach to connect on Ishiwatari, but saw his breakthrough come in the third when he finally connected, wobbling Ishiwatari. For the final two minutes, both southpaws went toe-to-toe until the bell. Ahead by two rounds, it seemed as though Ishiwatari would pull out the win. Alas, judges Fukuda and Kosuge ruled it a 29-29 draw and 29-28 for Ishiwatari, respectively, while judge Umeki saw it 29-28 for Nishiuchi.
The welterweight bout between Eiji Ishikawa and Ichiro Kanai quickly devolved into a messy, albeit entertaining grappling battle. With the help of hard low kicks -- along with some rope- and glove-grabs -- Ishikawa was able to defend or reverse having his back taken to instead take Kanai’s back. Both men threatened with choke attempts, but Ishikawa put forth the majority of offense on the floor with punches, thus sealing it on judges Wada and Kosuge’s cards, 30-28 and 30-29. Judge Matsumiya ruled the back-and-forth bout a 30-30 draw.
Though Kengo Ura wanted nothing more than to swing with evil intent, Kiichi “Strasser” Kunimoto decided to wrestle instead. Between counter punches, Kunimoto ducked under Ura’s haymakers and drove relentlessly for single- and double-legs, often getting them with little trouble. The constant effort tired Kunimoto out, but Ura was far more spent from having to defend the takedowns and eat punches when on his back. Judges Fukuda, Umeki, and Kosuge thus all voted for Strasser by bout’s end, 30-28, 30-29 and 30-29, respectively.
Masahiro Toryu and Hiroki Nagaoka turned in a stinker of a fight when both men decided that clinching and takedown attempts were more important than attacking. After 15 minutes of neutralizing one another, judges Wada, Umeki, and Fukuda had little choice but to score the bout 30-30 for the unanimous draw.
After running into punches and knees to start out the fight, Tomonari Kanomata was eventually able to bowl over Masakazu Takafuji, whereupon he locked up a kimura for the tap at 4:08 of the first period.