Takumi Nakayama (right) edged Tomonari Kanomata at Pancrase “Impressive Tour 9.” | Photo: Taro Irei
TOKYO -- Shooto and King of the Cage veteran Takumi Nakayama trumped Tomonari Kanomata on the judges’ scorecards to claim the title of interim featherweight King of Pancrase in the main event of Pancrase “Impressive Tour 9” Sunday evening at Differ Ariake.
Nakayama immediately set the pace by controlling Kanomata in the grappling department, stealing the Paraestra Hachioji product’s back in the clinch to threaten with rear-naked chokes. Despite two rather long-lasting attempts in the first period, neither put Kanomata in danger. The second frame was largely a repeat of the first, with Kanomata punching over his shoulder in to score offense and make his escape easier; Nakayama nonetheless stayed glued on.
The third stanza proved better for the onetime Sengoku vet, as Kanomata reversed a rear waist-lock into a kimura attempt, a la Kazushi Sakuraba-Renzo Gracie. Though Nakayama affixed a triangle choke, Kanomata escaped to lock on a toe hold for the final 30 seconds. It was too little, too late, as judges Yoshinori Umeki, Minoru Toyonaga, and Tomoki Matsumiya all ruled the bout 30-28 Nakayama, awarding the Osaka native his first title.
“It’s like a dream come true for me,” said an ecstatic Nakayama after the bout. “I’ve always fought all over in different promotions and to get a title shot like this in only my second fight here [is great].”
Despite having captured gold, Nakayama nonetheless has his sights set on reigning champion Marlon Sandro, who currently competes in Bellator Fighting Championships.
“This belt has so much history, I’m happy to have it. But, it has the title ‘interim’ attached to it. I want to erase that part, so please let me face Marlon Sandro,” requested Nakayama.
Nakai Draws for First Time, Oyama Blitzes Park
Valkyrie’s first and only openweight champion, Rin Nakai, narrowly preserved her lossless 10-0 record against English import Danielle West when judges ruled their fight a split draw after three wild rounds. From the start, West proved the superior striker, putting combinations on the face of Nakai which were further exacerbated by Nakai’s lack of head movement.
“I got hit right at the start, so I couldn’t think about what I wanted to do,” said Nakai, post-fight. “I haven’t had a fight that competitive before since I dominated most of my opponents. West’s punches were very effective and I panicked.”
Nakai’s response lay in takedowns, which West had difficulty defending against, as well as multiple armbar and keylock attempts. While West was more adept in reversing out of the submissions, the Englishwoman had trouble stopping Nakai from repeatedly attempting them, likely allowing Nakai to even up otherwise one-
sided scorecards in West’s favor.
“West was stronger than we anticipated. I went for submissions but couldn’t get them. We thought I’d be facing a grappler, but I wasn’t. I didn’t feel she had a height difference either, but she was heavier and that affected things for me,” admitted Nakai, claiming to have given up 15.4 pounds to the Briton.
After three back and forth rounds, the officials were naturally split in their decision with judge Toyonaga siding 29-28 Nakai and judge Ryogaku Wada rendering a 29-28 West card. Judge Masato Fukuda saw the bout 29-29, thus ruling the bout a split draw.
Though preserving her unbeaten record in this fight, Nakai isn’t actively seeking to challenge herself by potentially fighting abroad, claiming, “We considered fighting abroad but we think that if foreigners come to Japan to fight me, it would be the same [as traveling abroad].”
Elsewhere, Pride and K-1 Hero’s vet Shungo Oyama made extremely quick work of Jeong Gyo Park, knocking him out in a mere 11 seconds. The South Korean import tried to bring the firepower early, charging with a flurry of punches right after the opening bell. None connected, however, allowing an unimpressed Oyama to land a counter southpaw jab which wobbled his opponent. Park immediately flurried and missed again, once again opening himself up to a counter right from Oyama which put Park to sleep on his haunches and forced referee Toyonaga to step in for the stop.
Nishiuchi Outboxes Oishi, Kotani Shocks Inoue
A lighter-footed and quicker Tashiro Nishiuchi outboxed former Shooto 132-pound champion Masahiro Oishi, circling the veteran to land stinging southpaw shots to the face and body. Oishi adopted the role of a counterpuncher, landing heavier hands to the body and head of “Akai,” but had less overall offense than his active opponent. However, Oishi’s effort was enough to curiously tie things up on the scorecards of judges Matsumiya and Umeki, who ruled the bout 30-30. Only judge Kazuhiro Takamoto saw the fight 30-29 for Nishiuchi.
UFC and Pride vet Naoyuki Kotani impressed with an expedient submission victory over former lightweight King of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue. After an initial takedown, Kotani immediately spun for the armbar, hammerfisting the surprised Inoue’s face with his free hand to break the his defensive grip. It wasn’t long before Kotani had the arm extended, forcing Inoue to arch back in pain and tap out at 1:44 of the first.
Welterweights Shingo Suzuki and Akihiro Yamazaki had a fun, if reckless, exchange on the ground, fighting for Achilles holds, kneebars, and heel hooks. It was simply a matter of time until one of them caught the other; as it turned out, the leglock victor was Suzuki, who tapped Yamazaki with a heel hook at 4:01 of the first.
In another of the evening’s women’s bouts, Naoko Omuro and Kayo Nagayasu fought to a majority draw after two rounds. Both women were evenly matched with Omuro scoring slightly more with punches and Nagayasu controlling action in the clinch. As such, judges Yuichi Yachi and Matsumiya ruled the bout 20-20, while judge Toyonaga sided with 20-19 Omuro.
After an initial four minutes of feeling out his opponent, 125-pounder Yuki Yasunaga dispatched Toshiteru Ishii with relentless ground and pound until referee Yachi was forced to step in for the TKO stop at 4:45 of the first round.
In the prelims, lightweight Keigo Hirayama turned out Ryosuke Togashi’s lights at 1:20 of round one, while 125-pounder Chikara Shimabukuro edged Go Yamanaka on the cards with his crisper striking to take the unanimous decision, 20-18 across the board.