Inoue Takes Interim King of Pancrase Title

By Jason Nowe Jul 27, 2007
TOKYO, July 27 -- It was a busy night for Pancrase this evening within the confines of MMA Mecca Korakuen Hall. Not only was the battle for the interim welterweight King of Pancrase on the docket, but also the Neo Blood Tournament finals for light, welter and middleweight divisions as well as the Japan versus Korea Challenge.

Rather than leaving the welterweight KOP belt inactive as champion Daizo Ishige (Pictures) sits on the shelf recovering from injury, the Pancrase brass elected to create an interim title fight between former Pancrase welterweight champion Katsuya Inoue (Pictures) and bodogFIGHT representative Fabricio Nascimento (Pictures), with the winner to fight Ishige to unify the belts at a later date.

Nascimento -- a Brazilian ju-jitsu black belt who scored 13 of his 17 wins via submission -- must rely totally on his ground game in MMA, because his stand-up looked horrible. Right off the bell he charged in with several lunging jabs, head up, no guard and totally off balance. At times it almost looked like he thought he was in an amateur Toughman fight.

While the Brazilian's unpredictable striking tactics had Inoue confused, the former champion eventually found his groove and brought the pace to his tempo, circling on the outside, connecting punches while avoiding Nascimento's wild haymakers.

Throughout this bout Inoue displayed an excellent sprawl, getting away from the Nova Uniao fighter's takedown attempts and always ending up with top position. From here the Japanese fighter would rain down heavy hands, especially connecting with vicious overhand rights to the head.

Nascimento managed to get up after the first series of these in round two, but another wave followed the Brazilian couldn't defend against, forcing the referee to intervene and stop the action at the 2:33 mark.

With the win, Inoue was awarded the interim welterweight KOP belt and a chance to avenge his previous loss to Ishige sometime in the future.

Nascimento's fellow Bodog representative, Jose Aldo, squared off against hot prospect Shoji in the card's semifinal bout.

Aldo displayed some excellent takedown skills from the clinch, bringing his Japanese opponent to the mat seemingly at will. As great as Aldo was at bringing things to the mat, so was Shoji in his ability to get back to the feet. Despite taking dominant positions like side, mount and back, Aldo wasn't able to inflict any damage or go for submissions before his Japanese opponent brought the fight back to standing.

On the feet Aldo tagged his opponent with quick jabs, awesome hand combinations and thunderous low kicks. Shoji, known for being a somewhat unorthodox striker (often pulling out spinning backfists and flying knees), couldn't seem to work any of these techniques against the savvy Brazilian. The fight went the allotted three rounds and Aldo walked away with the justified decision.

Killer Bee fighter Riki Fukuda (Pictures) absolutely crushed PANCRASEism's Hikaru Sato (Pictures) in their middleweight bout.

From the start it was obvious that Fukuda was way too much in the striking department, leaving the hapless Sato to look for takedowns in defense. But even on the ground Sato couldn't escape the onslaught of punches coming down at him. As Fukuda pounded from the top, Sato's corner threw in the towel at the 1:09 mark of the first.

This big win against the No. 3-ranked Sato will undoubtedly raise Fukuda's stock in the division, especially with the KO being so bad that Sato had to be taken from the ring by a stretcher.

In the Neo Blood Middleweight Tournament final, Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW's Rikuhei Fujii (Pictures) faced off against Takada dojo's Tomoyoshi Iwamiya (Pictures).

Despite Fujii's big reach advantage, Iwamiya was more than willing to trade with his opponent, even taunting him at times to throw leather. The Takada Dojo fighter often went for takedowns, but Fujii displayed a pretty decent sprawl, avoiding most of his opponent's shots while answering back with punches from the top.

This was a pretty close fight all the way to the final bell, but the saints must have been smiling on Fujii as the judges awarded him the unanimous decision and the 2007 Middleweight Neo Blood crown.

Nao "Yoshirock T" Yoshida scored takedowns and maintained dominant ground control over Satoru Takadaya in their Neo Blood Welterweight Tournament final bout. While Takadaya moved to prevent Yoshida from getting his hooks in, he couldn't escape from all fours as Yoshida bore down on top of him and connected with right hands. The referee jumped in to call the fight at the 3:50 mark of the first, giving Yoshida the TKO victory and the 2007 title.

Kouitirou Matsumoto had a good start in his bout against Yuichi Ikami, scoring a takedown before working his way to the mount. However the P's Lab Tokyo fighter managed to escape before taking any damage.

In the second, Ikari got the momentum of the fight going his way, often getting back- and side-control after failed judo throw attempts. Ikari finished out the round by scoring the mount twice and raining down punches until the final bell.

The fight went to the judges and Ikari walked away with the win and the 2007 lightweight crown.

In the Japan-Korea series, Wolf Team Max fighter Jung Jin Suk needed only 40 seconds to take apart Tomoki Murayama. Connecting with two hard jabs that had the Japanese fighter wobbling, Suk finished Murayama off at the ropes with two hard hooks to the head for the KO victory.

Sakaguchi dojo's Yukio Sakaguchi (Pictures) came out punching against Choi Ki-Seok in their welterweight bout, securing a Thai clinch and firing knees. Eventually one of Sakaguchi's knees found its way through the Korean's defenses, forcing him to turn away. From here, Sakaguchi made no mistake, securing a standing rear-naked choke for the victory at the 44-second mark.

Seasoned Pancrase fighter Takafumi Ito (Pictures) and Sa Jin Kwok fought a hard back-and-forth two rounds. Kwok had some good pressure and great takedown attempts while Ito had the edge in ground positioning. The fight went the distance and was ruled a draw.
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