Mei Yamaguchi (above) meets “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba on April 3. | Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog.com
For the first time in its 17-year history, Pancrase will offer up a female main event at its April 3 “Impressive Tour” stop in Tokyo’s Differ Ariake.
Set to square off in the 115-pound “Athena division” headliner are longtime Pancrasist “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba and promotional newcomer Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi.
Sunaba, 34, is one of the best-established names in women’s mixed martial arts, having competed against some of the toughest female competitors in more than 10 different promotions during her nine-year career. The karate stylist has experienced a career resurgence of late, busting a five-fight winless slump from 2008-2009 with four straight wins in 2010. Sunaba’s current streak includes decisions over former boxing champ Monica Lovato and fellow Japanese vet Masako Yoshida.
Formerly known as “V-Hajime,” Yamaguchi is the current 115-pound champion of Greatest Common Multiple-run women’s league Valkyrie. The 28-year-old claimed gold in February 2010 by defeating Yuka Tsuji via first-round rear-naked choke, simultaneously avenging her 2008 loss to the women’s MMA pioneer. In fact, Yamaguchi has reclaimed both defeats on her 6-2-1 ledger, having also bested former Smackgirl standout Emi Fujino in April 2009.