Akihiro Murayama scored a big win in the Pancrase 320 headliner on Sunday. The 40 year old took out an up and coming contender, claiming a decision win over Masayuki Kikuiri.

There was a 15 year age gap between the two men and Murayama says his opponent made life tough over the course of three closely contested rounds,

“He was much bigger than I’d thought, tall with long reach, but my corner helped to keep me from overthinking it too much. He was a bit difficult to handle but during the fight I figured out the distance (and) then it went well.”

Akihiro Murayama punches Masayuki Kikuiri

Very cautious

The former welterweight King of Pancrase says he was well aware of Kikuiri’s striking credentials going into the bout and tried to avoid his power shots,

“At first, because of his long reach I thought I should close the gap with punches and force the grapple. I tried to throw my jab out as much as possible to stop his right cross. I felt that using my left hand to kind of parry it helped to prevent that. He’s knocked out a lot of people with his right cross and hook, so I was very cautious of that.”

While staying away from Kikuiri’s right hand he ended up eating a couple of jabs,

“I think in the second round his jab felt longer and I took a couple in my eye! I was aware of his right hand, but it was his jab that started coming in.”

Akihiro Murayama takes down Masayuki Kikuiri

Pushing forwards

Murayama believes the key to his decision victory was getting the fight to the ground,

“It went according to plan, but the second round didn’t go well because I was backing off. After that, I pushed forward and forced the grapple,” he recalls.

Murayama came into Sunday’s bout having lost four out of his previous six. That put him under pressure and he knew that this was a must win fight,

“A few days before the match I feel confident and felt strongly about getting the win. I knew I had lost a few fights, so this time I felt I just couldn’t lose.”

Akihiro Murayama defeats Masayuki Kikuiri

Title talk

At Pancrase 302 he dropped a decision to Hiroyuki Tetsuka. Murayama wants to challenge the current welterweight champion  but knows he needs to win a few more fights first,

“Well, it’s not going to be soon, but I want to continue to get stronger and work my way to challenge Hiroyuki Tetsuka again.”