Shintaro Ishiwatari will defend his King of Pancrase title for the first time on March 11. | Photo: Taro Irei


Pancrase has improved its hand for the March 11 event on its 2012 Progress Tour, drawing a pair of kings.

The Japanese promotion has announced that the card, set for Tokyo's Differ Ariake, will feature a pair of Kings of Pancrase defending their respective titles, as Takenori Sato will defend his 170-pound strap against Kiichi Kunimoto, while newly-minted bantamweight titlist Shintaro Ishiwatari will stake his crown against Tashiro Nishiuchi.

The 26-year-old Sato, an understudy of Kazushi Sakuraba at Laughter7, will be making the third defense of his title, last fighting veteran Eiji Ishikawa to a split draw on Oct. 2. Kunimoto, 30, has lost just once in his last just once in his last 10 bouts over a four-year span. The Osaka native, nicknamed for UFC veteran Dave Strasser under whom he has trained in Wisconsin, last saw action in November, guillotining Yu Shiori in the second round.

A Shooto and Sengoku veteran, Ishiwatari made the leap to the Pancrase ring last May, fighting the aforementioned Nishiuchi to a split draw. The 26-year-old Ishiwatari won his next two bouts, besting Manabu Inoue by majority decision in December to earn the 135-pound King of Pancrase title.

Nova Uniao Japan's Nishiuchi made his stateside debut on Jan. 28 in Kinder, La., choking out Lewis McKenzie in the second round under the G1 Fights banner.

The March 11 bill will also feature the retirement bout of noted women's striker and Pancrase rep “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba as she takes on Jewels mainstay Saori Ishioka at 115 pounds, while former Pancrase title challenger Seiya Kawahara returns to action to face fellow savvy striker Yuta Numakura at 135 pounds.

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