Japanese veteran Hiroshige Tanaka is determined to place himself back on the winning track as he competes for the second time this year at Pancrase 310 on Sunday.

The 37-year-old Yokohama native has lost three fights in a row. The last time he had his hand raised in triumph was when he knocked out Hatsu Hioki in 14 seconds with a left hook in October 2017.

With his professional career in limbo, Tanaka did not mince his words when discussing how hungry he is to claim his first win in two years,

“I pushed myself to the limit in training for this fight. I am eager to arrest my bad luck. I’ve been very vocal about it. It’s really tough, but I have an opportunity to rise up and get back to my winning ways,” he said through his interpreter.

Hiroshige Tanaka

Losing streak

Tanaka had been in an identical situation a few years ago. When he joined ONE Championship in 2014, he dropped unanimous decision defeats to Herbert Burns and Eric Kelly.

When he made his September 2016 comeback in Shooto, Tanaka suffered the same fate, yielding to Kazumasa Majima by unanimous decision.

Tanaka broke his losing spell when he signed with Pancrase three months after his setback to Majima, outpointing Kazumasa Majima via unanimous decision before shutting the lights out on Hioki.

Since then, he has not heard his name being announced as the winner, experiencing a three-bout skid. In his most recent outing, he yielded to Yoshinori Horie at Pancrase 303 by way of first-round knockout.

Hiroshige Tanaka 2

Painful loss

Tanaka admitted that the painful loss to Horie compelled him to go back to the drawing board and make necessary adjustments in his game,

“This sport is consistently evolving. It’s either you grow or you stagnate. The loss made me realize that I still have a lot to learn, even at this point in my career. It was a good lesson because I made some improvements (and) I hope I can show that in my next fight.”

For Tanaka’s second Pancrase assignment in 2019, he is set to duke it out with compatriot Suguru Nii.

Nii is fresh from his triumphant Pancrase return last July, stopping fellow Japanese Taiyo Hayashi in 14 seconds. Prior to that, he found success outside the promotion’s confines, winning a Lightweight Grand Prix tournament with the Hawaii-based X-1 World Events.

Hiroshige Tanaka 3

Eager to win

Tanaka admits it will not be easy but sees the bout with a fellow veteran as being a good one for him,

“It’s a good match-up for me. My opponent is no pushover because Suguru Nii has a good ground game and a decent stand-up. But I want to get this win more than ever. No one can deny my eagerness to win,” he stated.

Both men will be looking to move up the featherweight rankings with a win. Tanaka might not be in top form at the moment but he still holds title ambitions.

Tanaka dreams of earning the right to call himself featherweight King of Pancrase before he retires. It is a distant proposition at present but one he refuses to give up on,

“My dream is to be the champion in Pancrase before I call it a career (and) I want to get closer to the title by winning. I will continue to attack until the end.”