Pancrase, Shooto Matchups Pit Vets Oishi, ‘Hadairo’ Against Young Stars


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Can Isao Kobayashi usurp the old guard? | Photo: Taro Irei


Isao Kobayashi will have the chance to avenge the lone loss on his ledger come April when he challenges Koji Oishi for the mantle of lightweight King of Pancrase.

Pancrase officials confirmed Sunday that the title bout will take place April 1 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, the fourth stop on the Japanese promotion’s 2012 “Progress Tour.” Also added to the card was a 155-pound tilt between ex-welterweight ace Kengo Ura and Takafumi Ito, as well as a minimumweight affair between Naoko Omuro and “Happy” Fukuko Hamada.

Kobayashi, 23, came up on the short end of a narrow unanimous decision against Oishi in their April 2010 No. 1 contender’s bout. Since then, the Sakaguchi Dojo prospect has gone 4-0-1 with an impressive throttling of former Cage Force champ Artur Oumakhanov and three straight wins to run the table in Pancrase’s 2011 lightweight grand prix.

A two-time UFC veteran best known for his 2005 knockout loss at the hands of Nick Diaz, 34-year-old Oishi has not tasted defeat since December 2008, posting a record of 4-0-4 in his last eight starts. Oishi captured Pancrase gold with a May 2011 decision win over Daisuke Hanazawa and has subsequently drawn in two non-title bouts.

Meanwhile, Pancrase rival Shooto announced Saturday that it will send veteran grappler Tetsu “Hadairo” Suzuki up against 21-year-old Krazy Bee slugger Kyoji Horiguchi in a March 10 bantamweight affair at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall.

Both men will look to rebound from recent setbacks: Suzuki was outpointed by Hiromasa Ogikubo in his Jan. 8 bid for the Shooto Pacific Rim 132-pound belt, while Horiguchi suffered the first defeat of his young career when he was edged by former world champ Masakatsu Ueda on the same card.

Other additions to Shooto’s March 10 event will see onetime No. 1 flyweight Shinichi “B.J.” Kojima tangle with South Korean youngster Nam Jin Jo and 2011 rookie champion Michinori Tanaka in a tune-up fight against Jong Hoon Choi.

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