Kazuki Tokudome (top) stayed perfect in Pancrase by mauling Kota
Okazawa on Sunday. | Photo: Taro Irei
TOKYO -- Kazuki
Tokudome battered a tenacious Kota
Okazawa in the main event of Sunday evening’s Pancrase
“Impressive Tour 8” at Differ Ariake, securing his place in the
finals of the promotion’s lightweight grand prix.
The bout looked as though it might end quickly, as a Tokudome boot
and fist to the face sent Okazawa to the canvas. Instead of
finishing with punches, however, Tokudome immediately found himself
defending takedown attempts, prompting him switch to the occasional
soccer kick instead. The battered Okazawa wasn’t out of the fight
completely, though, as evidenced by a kimura attempt that was cut
short by the bell.
The second period started much the same as the first, the southpaw
Tokudome snapping Okazawa’s head back with punches before putting
the Nova Uniao Japan fighter on his back. Tokudome rained blows
until the final minute of the round, whereupon Okazawa reversed to
mount and threw on an armbar attempt. Tokudome’s idea of armbar
defense turned out to be vicious stomps to the body, which proved
Though Tokudome looked to repeat in the third with a flattening
left hand, Okazawa surprisingly reversed his mounted assailant
while under fire. The turning of the tide didn’t last long, as
Tokudome recovered position to close out the round on top. Judges
Wada, and Yoshifumi Oyabu all gave Tokudome lopsided 30-26
scorecards, reflecting his three-round shellacking of Okazawa.
“My strict training every day is what gets me to the final
competitive form you see me in today,” remarked a breathless
Tokudome, post-fight. “In December, I’ll fight in the final, and my
Kanomata, will probably fight for the [featherweight] title in
September, so please come out and support us both.”
Meeting Tokudome in the December tournament final will be Isao
Kobayashi, who took a commanding unanimous decision over
Iwamiya in the evening’s other lightweight semifinal. Given
Iwamiya’s exotic and aggressive strikes and Kobayashi’s slightly
more accurate ones, both men floored each other with cracking
straights in the first period, though neither could finish.
Kobayashi snuffed out Iwamiya.
The southpaw Kobayashi added low kicks to his arsenal in the second
period, while Iwamiya shot for occasional takedowns in between
roundhouse and spinning back-kicks. Kobayashi sealed his dominance
in the third after stuffing a takedown attempt to deliver knees to
Iwamiya’s crown. The knees forced Iwamiya to his back whereupon
Kobayashi planted himself in guard and ground away with short
punches for the final three minutes.
In the end, Kobayashi walked away the victor on judges Wada, Oyabu
and Toyonaga’s cards (30-28, 30-27, 30-27).
Sengoku and Shooto veteran Shintaro
Ishiwatari earned the next shot at bantamweight King of
Inoue with his split decision victory over Motonobu
Ishiwatari narrowly escaped a leg-scissors choke in the first
frame, finally securing top position in half-guard to grind on
Tezuka. The second period saw little change in either fighter’s
modus operandi, as Ishiwatari stalked Tezuka with winging punches
while Tezuka shelled up and continued to shoot for the legs. For
all of his bravery diving into the fire however, Tezuka was
reversed twice and forced to defend barrages of big punches off his
back. The opening of the final stanza saw Ishiwatari somewhat less
active on the ground, as he would hold position from side control,
biding his time until the inevitable standup. By the final minute
however, this waiting gave way to knees to Tezuka’s ribs from side
Ishiwatari (right) cracked Tezuka.
Despite showing good reversal abilities on the ground, the judges
found themselves not only split in their verdict, but also somewhat
spare in their assessment of the eventual winner. While judge
Umeki sided with Tezuka via “must” decision (29-29), judges
Kenji Kosuge and Wada turned in narrow cards for Ishiwatari, 30-29
and 30-28, respectively. Be that as it may, the tight battle saw
both fighters recognized with the promotion’s “Best Bout” award,
making both of them $630 richer.
Elsewhere, the first and former 125-pound King of Pancrase,
Sunabe, began his hunt for Pancrase’s newest title, narrowly
Matsunaga to advance in the promotion’s 120-pound
Sunabe returned to the win column.
After a tight opening round in which Sunabe’s game plan of taking
the fight to the floor backfired -- the Okinawan gave Matsunaga top
position in guard for most of the round -- Sunabe got down to
scrapping in the second frame. Largely even, both men traded
tit-for-tat until Sunabe was able to secure Matsunaga’s back and
threaten with a choke. As such, judges Kosuge, Toyonaga and Wada
all saw the fight for Sunabe (20-20 must decision for Sunabe,
Former Shooto 123-pounder Hiroyuki
Abe made short work of Takuya
Eizumi on the other side of the Pancrase 120-pound tournament
bracket, eliciting a tap via armbar at 4:19 of the first and taking
the promotion’s $380 “Submission of the Night” bonus. From the get
go, Abe put Eizumi on his back and stifled him with big punches
from above. Eizumi’s scrambles resulted in brief moments of
freedom, but Abe’s positional dominance was so complete that, by
the time the armbar was secured, both of Eizumi’s arms were caught;
Eizumi’s only out was thus to verbally submit.
Clearly taken with his fellow finalist’s finish as well as his
Shooto background, Sunabe commented, “Abe is the better fighter
today, so I can’t really say that I’ll be able beat him now. When
we meet in the future, however, I will show him my Pancrase
In typical fashion, welterweight Keiichiro
Yamamiya circled his opponent, peppering with stiff jabs and
the occasional left straight and knee for two whole rounds.
Kanai was more than happy to oblige the Grabaka veteran,
returning fire with sharp counterpunches of his own. Kanai further
evened up the cards by securing mount in the second period,
resulting in judge Toyonaga giving a 20-20 card. Judges Oyabu and
Wada were more discerning however, siding 20-19 with Yamamiya for
the majority decision.
From the opening bell of their light heavyweight tilt, Shinsho
“Animal” Anzai unrelentingly attacked Akihito
Tanaka, swarming him with messy haymakers before his
carelessness saw him give his back to the formerly masked fighter
known briefly as “Kinnikumantaro.” Tanaka was able to sink his arms
for the rear-naked choke, but Anzai gutted through it for the
eventual reversal. From riding time position, Anzai rained heavy
blows for an uncomfortably long period in which Tanaka did nothing
but cover up in defense. As such, referee Kosuge was forced to call
the bout at 4:16 of the first.
‘Animal’ made good on his name.
After a tight first round of trading punches, Seiji Ozuka
exploded into the second with a lunging right hook that sent
Hirose careening to his back. Ozuka dove to finish with more
punches, and while some got through, Hirose was more or less still
in the fight, shelling up under the fire. This method of defense
seemed unsatisfactory to referee Kosuge, who stepped in for an
early stop at 0:57 of round two. Despite the premature stoppage,
Ozuka was still awarded $380 for the “Knockout of the Night” by
So and Shoko Sato
fought to an exciting majority draw in which the Okinawan wildly
shot for takedowns to mash with punches from on top. Not to be
dominated or outstruck, Sato returned fire from his back with a
flurry of punches and kimura attempts from the clinch. By bout’s
end, judges Kosuge and Umeki had draws of 20-20 and 19-19
respectively, while judge Wada saw it 20-19 for Sato.
Matsumoto wanted nothing more than to clinch up and shoot for
the occasional takedown, Yoshiaki
Takahashi battered him with enough sharp strikes to earn
knockdowns and thus consideration on judges Kosuge (20-19) and
Wada’s (19-18) cards. Only judge Umeki ruled the bout a 19-19
The featherweight final of Pancrase’s 2011 Neo-Blood rookie
tournament turned out to be a rematch between Jon
Shores and Yoji Saito, a
fight which occurred last February and ended in a unanimous
decision victory for the American.
Shores recorded another finish.
This second meeting with Saito ended more definitively for the U.S.
Navy serviceman, however, as Shores punished his opponent with
brutal ground-and-pound before sinking the rear-naked choke for the
tap at 4:43 of the first round. Given that Shores finished all of
his opponents during the course of the tournament, the 29-year-old
“Killer” was also recognized as the 2011 Neo-Blood tournament
In the welterweight Neo-Blood finals, Shigeaki
Kusayanagi was all knees and ground-and-pound, putting the hurt
Kitada for just over a round before a particularly sharp knee
dropped him to all fours. Kusayanagi finished with punches as
referee Umeki lunged for the save at the 0:54 mark of round
Sakuta used his sharper striking and a last minute rear-naked
choke “catch” to take judges Hirokazu
Takamoto, Umeki and Wada’s scorecards (20-20 must for Sakuta,
19-19 Sakuta, 20-19) and the lightweight Neo-Blood tournament
championship over Takatoshi
Numakura scraped by Kenichi
Tosa in the bantamweight final, using knees in the clinch and a
last-minute takedown to earn 20-20 must decisions from judges Wada
and Takamoto, while judge Toyonaga gave him a 20-19 card.
Last but not least, in the 125-pound tournament final, Yuki
Yasunaga employed well-timed big punches and takedowns to
Utsugi and take the decision on the cards of Wada, Takamoto and
Toyonaga (20-19, 20-19, 19-19 must for Yasunaga).