Pancrase 321 Results and Review

Main Event – Featherweight King of Pancrase Championship, 5 minutes x 5 rounds

Isao “ISAO” Kobayashi defeated Taichi Nakajima (unanimous decision, 50-45, 49-46, 49-46)

For his 3rd title defence dominant champion Isao “Isao” Kobayashi collided with Taichi Nakajima in an electrifying bout. Workhorse Nakajima has constantly striven to claw his way to the top. While consistently a top contender, with a full spectrum of MMA skills beautifully executed, he could never make it to title contention, until now. For Kobayashi, he was once again out to emphatically prove his supremacy as the divisions king.

From the get go it was clear that the clinch would be a major factor in the outcome of the match. After eating some “Isao” low kicks, Nakajima found success with his hands and opened the doors for some tackles. The champions solid Judo base allowed him to maintain posture and execute reversals, coming out on top despite the challengers perfect level changes, body locks and double underhooks.

In the 2nd round “Isao” once again relied on strong hips and amazing balance to shut down the challengers clinches. Nakajima did not seem to make mistakes, he just could not power through or catch the champion off balance. A failed guillotine attempt from “Isao” gave the first big opportunity to the Lotus Setagaya all-rounder, who blasted away with a big left hand getting through.

Wearing on the game challenger, in the 3rd round Kobayashi began to show once again why he rules the division. Nasty elbows on exit from the clinch combined with knees, “Isao” was controlling distance and tempo. Nakajima, to his credit, would not be held down and was maintaining his work rate. Bloodied from the elbow strikes but cleared by the doctors, Nakajima fought on.

Continuing with his Judo and wrestling based strategy in the 4th round the Never Quit gym fighter was able to lock up a single leg and do some damage on the challenger. Not squandering a single change, Nakajima pulled off a body lock takedown. While “Isao” was able to pop back up to his feet the challenger delivered some payback with a slicing elbow. There was brief moment of trepidation for the bantamweight king as doctors checked the cut, thankfully, he was cleared to continue. Pushing the pace up further, the champion attacked with takedown and choke attempts to ice another round.

In the final, Nakajima had met the champions pace, kept up and while definitely in the fight he was aware he was behind and needed a finish to win. Launching a hail Mary flying knee handed the champion an easy takedown. Working tenaciously at every moment, Nakajima made it back to his feet but was caught in a tight guillotine until the sound of the final bell.

Nakajima knew it was his moment to shine and, while he could not pull off the upset, he made the most of the opportunity, fighting his heart out and sending a statement. There was no doubt the fight belonged to “Isao” however, as he put on another dominant display. Showing his fight IQ, in combination with his ever improving skill set and conditioning, the champion seems to be moving further and further ahead of the pack. With his 3rd title defence behind him Kobayashi awaits the next challenger to step up and will be fore sure ready.


Semifinal, 12th Match, Flyweight 4 Man Tournament, A Block 5 Minutes x 3 Rounds

Toru Ogawa defeated Taiki Akiba (unanimous decision, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28) 

At 2nd place in the rankings Toru Ogawa entered the tournament as the highest ranked fighter and carried a lot of weight on his shoulders as he drew tournament dark-horse Taiki Akiba. Ogawa was put in some difficult positions by the 6th ranked Akiba, who backed him up with vicious punches on the feet in the 2nd round. Taking the back of the Tribe Tokyo MMA flyweight, Akiba threatened with chokes. Ogawa turned the tides and landed some serious ground and pound to make the 2nd round a close one. The majority of the fight, however, was dictated by Ogawa , who let loose with straights and left hooks on the feet. When the action hit the ground it was Ogawa that established the dominant positions and fired down an onslaught of strikes. Finishing the 3rd punishing Akiba with heavy punches from back control Ogawa punched his ticket to the finals.


11th Match, Flyweight 4 Man Tournament, B Block 5 Minutes x 3 Rounds

Satoru “Sarutobi” Enomoto defeated Masatatsu “Shoryu” Ueda (split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28) 

The match between Satoru “Sarutobi” Enomoto and Masatatsu “Shoryu” Ueda was always going to be close. It ended up going right down to the wire. “Sarutobi” took the opening stanza, securing top position and shutting down Ueda’s attempts to mount sweeps or submissions. “Shoryu” made it competitive in the 2nd, fending off the Reversal Gym Kawaguchi REDIPS grappling dynamo’s takedowns, Ueda managed to bring the bout to the mat on top. “Sarutobi” answered with a tight arm bar in a back and forth round. Both continued to Jockey for position against cage until the enthusing scrambles broke out. In a definitive moment, with 30 seconds left, Ueda took Enomoto’s left arm and came close to a standing armlock as time expired. In the end 2 of the judges felt “Sarutobi” had done enough to take a razor close split decision win. Back from surgery it was an adept display of grappling from “Sarutobi” against a technical ground specialist. Satoru “Sarutobi” Enomoto fought tooth and nail to reach the finals.


10th Match, Straw-weight next challenger bout, 5 minutes x 3 rounds

Yudai Miyazawa defeated Ryo Hatta (unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Heavy hitting Yudai Miyazawa squared off against the go for broke grappling of Ryo Hatta in a bout to determine top contender. 3rd ranked Miyazawa utilized every bit of his physical power to fend off takedowns from the submission grappling wizard. Letting his hands go on the feet, the athletic K-Place hard hitter caught Hatta with a well timed, and placed, knee. Feeling the intensity, the Striple Ohana master grappler could not bait Miyazawa into playing his game. Constant attempts to take the bout to the mat were thwarted by excellent Miyazawa defence as he cruised to victory in a battle of styles. The “all or nothing” approach of Hatta has yeilded a lot of success in the past but this time it did not pay off. All three judges sided with Miyazawa, giving him every round. With the victory he earned the right to challenge Daichi Kitakata for the strawweight title.


9th Match, Lightweight, 5min 3round

Akira Okada defeated Koshi “Luxor” Matsumoto (TKO, 3R, 1:03)

Matsumoto controlled distance masterfully for much of the fight, keeping Akira circling the perimeter with accurate long punches, “Luxor” would threaten with takedowns as Akira closed distance. As Akira upped the aggression and marched forward he was cut down by sharp jabs. Matsumoto further turned up the heat, adding to the pressure he kept Akira on the back foot against the cage with crisp striking. As the match progressed Akira brought his signature power to Matsumoto’s finesse, finding more success as he got a read on the rangy sharp shooter. Matsumoto uses offense as defence and Akira had to find a way to close the gap. In the 3rd round a right from Matsumoto landed once again and Akira found his mark with a loaded 1-2 combination. Foolhardily Matsumoto engaged in a shootout, firing back with a right he absorbed a monstrous shot to the chin from the powerhouse. A few hammerfists on the ground and the referee jumped in to the contest. Akira has now taken out 2 of the divisions top and remains on route to a title shot showdown with Takasuke “Da Jaguar” Kume.


8th Match, Featherweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Ryo Asami defeated Tokitaka Nakanishi (Guillotine Choke, 3R, 4:59)

In the first round, Tokitaka Nakanishi dropped under a Ryo Asami left hand, seized a high crotch and dumped the Rings grappler on his back. Nakanishi took back poisition, countered guillotine attempts with body lock takedowns and shut down his wily opponents sweeps and submissions. Undeterred and unwavering, Asami continuously attacked, locking up a tight arm-in guillotine at the end of the 3rd round. The Ishitsuna MMA grapplers arm went limp and was rendered unconscious as the buzzer sounded. At 4:59, Ryo was declared the winner in an unbelievable come from behind performance.


7th Match, Welterweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Yuki “Yukisora” Kondo defeated Yoshinori Suzuki (split decision, 29-28, 29-28, 27-30) 

Celebrating his 25th anniversary, “Fudoshin” Kondo stepped into the cage on the 25th anniversary of his debut. His opponent Yoshinori Suzuki had a history of being thrown to the lions and a record to prove it. The evenly matched bout led to an entertaining clash as both fighters displayed their skills. Southpaw Kondo pressured and chased Suzuki, landing heavy left hands and, for the most part, defending takedowns in the clinch. In contrast Suzuki switched stances and, while finding success with his right hand, the K-Place fighter sought the takedown. With his aggression, damage and pressure, Kondo scraped out a split decision win. The Pancrasism veteran completed fight 108 against a well matched adversary.


6th Match, Featherweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Taiki Nakata defeated Issei Tamura (TKO, 1R, 3:36)

Former Featherweight King Tamura got to work and stamped his authority early, with hard right calf kicks and overhand rights. Representing the new generation of fighters, Nakata is not intimidated and does not back down. The Wajutsu Keishukai Hearts fighter falls back on his Daido Juku Karate roots, landing a high left kick, left hook combination. Tamura drops to his knees and is bombarded by 1-2s until the corner throws in the towel. Defying the odds Nakata seized the moment, went all out and claimed a major scalp, toppling the 5th ranked veteran in 3 minutes 36 seconds.


5th Match – Bantamweight – 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Rui Imura defeated Masahide Hiraoka (TKO, 1R, 2:48)

2020 Neo Blood Champion Rui Imura squared off against 2019 Neo Blood winner Masahide Hiraoka. Southpaw Hiroaka found a home early for straight left hands to the body and head, maintaining good rhythm. Finding a window of opportunity, Imura ducked under a right straight and planted the Krazy Bee wrestler to the ground. As Hiroaka stood Imura capitalized on his opponents tendency to keep his head down. A left to the body set up a knee to the head that sent Hiroaka crashing to the canvas. Some ground and pound led to a referee stoppage and an impressive 1st round TKO over a durable opponent. Fighting out of Nexense, Imura showcased his diverse skill set and prolific finishing instincts, moving to 5-0 with 5 finishes!


4th Match, Strawweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds.

Ryosuke Noda defeated Toshiya Takashima ( Armlock, 2R 4:55)

Ryosuke Noda entered the cage following a KO loss and a year and a half hiatus. Toshiya Takashima came in with a 5th place ranking after successfully rebounding from a TKO loss to Noda. Who would have the advantage, physically, psychologically, was an intriguing question going into the bout.

Reversal Gym Shinjuku, Me,We’s Takashima had little trouble taking the fight to the canvas through the 1st and 2nd rounds. Content on the ground, Noda, proved a handful on the mat for his foe. Stringing together a barrage of submission attacks, the Alliance gym all rounder eventually broke through Takashima’s tight defense. A masterful key lock to triangle set up allowed Noda to roll from bottom to achieve mounted triangle. From there he applied a textbook armbar to seal the victory in the dying seconds of the 2nd round. It will be a tough pill to swallow for Takashima, who was doing well defensively but perhaps played with fire a little too long. For Noda, a successful return after his absence and a decisive submission victory should ensure he climbs the rankings.


3Rd Match, Bantamweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Toshinori “Tsune” Tsunemura defeated Koji “Onigami” Kanda (Rear Naked Choke, 1R, 4:57)

Newcomer Koji “Onigami” Kanda was relentless with double leg takedowns in the opening stanza. Toshinori “Tsune” Tsunemura, with his high level experience was able to edge the upper hand each attack, placing Kanda against the fence. In an unfortunate incident the cage door opened as “Onigami” was pressed against it causing a reset. When action resumed “Tsune” was able to maneuver to the back of the Cave gym representative, locking up a Rear Naked Choke with just 3 seconds left in the opening round. With the victory the rugged Reversal Gym Shinjuku, Me,We fighter made a much needed return to the win column following a trio of losses.


2nd Match, Bantamweight, 5 minutes, 3 rounds

Joji Hirata defeated Keita Fukushima (KO, Lfet Hook, 1R, 3:57)

Roles were reversedas the 1st round got underway. Striking specialist Keita Fukushima evaded Joji Hirata’s straight hands to score a knee tap to double leg takedown combination. Typically known for his grappling prowess, Hirata surprised his K-Place gym opponent. Working back to his feet the Mixed Martial Arts Yagura fighter laid Fukushima out with a huge left hook. The shocking KO halted Fukushima’s 6 fight win streak while putting Hirata back in the win column.


Opening Match, Flyweight, 5 minutes x 3 rounds

Nori Date defeated Raika “Fujin” Emiko (Unanimous Decision, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

With amateur and pro Kickboxing experience Nori Date lent heavily on her kicking game repertoire, a staple for Team Date gym members. The 22 year old kept range with roundhouse and side kicks to the body and head. 3rd in the rankings, Raika “Fujin” Emiko, with her boxing pedigree did her best work up close in the pocket. The decorated ex-Boxing Champion landed solid left hands and had her moments with flurries, she was stifled in the clinch however. The grappling advantage belonged to the youngster who achieved mount, raining down ground and pound on the Right Thing Academy fighting veteran. Date, in her first 3 rounder put on a mature performance to pull off the upset, taking the decision on all 3 judges scorecards.

About the Author

Peter Leghorn
Writer and photographer sharing my passion for Martial Arts. instagram: peter_mmajapan

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