After being eliminated from the Rizin bantamweight tournament in the opening round Shintaro Ishiwatari has announced his retirement. The 36 year old holds a 26-9-4 record and is a former bantamweight King of Pancrase.

Ishiwatari was last seen in action at Rizin 28 where he was stopped in the opening round by Naoki Inoue. He made his debut back in 2006 and says injuries have taken their toll,

“I have been suffering from neck injuries and my body has sustained damage over the years. I can’t see myself competing against the top level anymore so I decided it’s time to hang them.”

Losing confidence

Ishiwatari has lost three out of his last four fights and missed all of 2020. He says that his confidence was affected by this loss of form,

“I’ve always stepped into the ring thinking it may be my last time. So I’m at a point where I cannot confidently step into the ring. For me, that was the call.”

Ishiwatari held the Pancrase bantamweight belt for five years and his reign as champion only ended when he signed up for the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix that year. He was beaten by Kyoji Horiguchi in the final and jokingly accuses the UFC veteran of ruining his career by winning that night,

“My most memorable fight in my career is against Horiguchi. Things would have went as planned if is wasn’t for him.”

Coaching career

Ishiwatari says he will not be turning his back on the sport completely. He will continue coaching at the Cave Gym,

“I will continue to support the members who are with me at the gym and utilize my experience and knowledge I learned from training in the US, and pass it on. ”

While he never managed to win a title or tournament with the promotion Ishiwatari  is grateful for the platform which Rizin gave him,

“I was confident when I was defending my title in Pancrase, but not too many people would watch my fights. Coming to Rizin I got the recognition and for many people to see my existence. I am grateful for just having this opportunity to announce my retirement like this.”

True fighter

Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara expressed his gratitude towards a fighter who appeared on six of his cards,

“I was told a few weeks ago from Ishiwatari, but I respect his decision. I would like to say thank you to Ishiwatari who showed what it takes to be a true fighter, the mentality, and performance was something to be respected.”

He also stated that there would be some sort of tribute towards Ishiwatari at Rizin 30,

“I hope he continues to support this community in his second career as the man behind the scenes. We hope to put together something for him during our event on September 19th at the Saitama Super Arena”