Pancrase 321 took place at Shinkiba Studio Coast on Sunday. Featherweight King of Pancrase Isao Kobayashi was defending his title against the in-form Taichi Nakajima in the main event and the champion earned a hard fought decision win
Kobayashi was riding a five-fight winning-streak and started as the favourite against Nakajima who earned his title shot after beating Yoshinori Horie at Pancrase 318 last year. Round one started out with a feeling out process but the challenger landed first with a right high kick.
Kobayashi looked to test Nakajima with a calf kick and some jabs. His opponent responded with a takedown attempt before the champion backed him up against the cage.
Nakajima showed some good movement and worked his way out but it was an exciting opening stanza. In round two Nakajima looking ready to increase his work rate after escaping some submission attempts including a d’arce choke and a guillotine attempt.
Kobayashi had a body triangle on Nakajima but couldn’t sink in the guillotine. The latter adjusted his position well and then backed up the champion against the cage before looking for a slam which Kobayashi emphatically stopped.
Nakajima deployed another right high kick to which Kobayashi responded by firing off a stinging right hand to the appreciation of the crowd. In round three both men were initially more tentative as they realized the fight was probably going the distance.
Kobayashi unloaded with a series of left hands with Nakajima backed up against the cage. With three minutes left in round three, the referee called for the challenger to be looked at by the doctor after sustaining a cut above his right eye.
Nakajima was unfazed and seemed more prepared to let his hands go after being cut. But Kobayashi showed the maturity of a champion, he maintained his composure and continue to wear down his challenger,
As the main event entered the championship rounds, Kobayashi shot in for a takedown and Nakajima sat up against the cage before delivering some light shots as he looked to stay busy in the eyes of the judges in the fourth.
Kobayashi landed with a heavy right hand but then backed away with the intention of outworking his opponent rather than pressing for a stoppage. He did execute a foot sweep which the crowd enjoyed.
Both men were more willing to exchange in the closing minute of the round as they showed tremendous cardio. Now the champion was cut on the top of his head but was quickly back on the attack and both men were bleeding when the round finished.
The fifth and final round started with a wild series of scrambles before the challenger stepped up his offense and unleashed a barrage of attacks with a high knee and a big elbow sending Kobayashi on the back foot. A bloodied Nakajima was trapped by the champion who delivered some ground and pound from the top position.
Nakajima found a way out and got back to his feet only for Kobayashi to again take down his opponent and he wound down the clock with another guillotine attempt. After the buzzer, Kobayashi tapped his opponent on the chest knowing he’d retained his crown and extended his winning run to six fights.
With the win Kobayashi improves to 27-5-2 and retains his featherweight title. Nakajima drops to 15-12-1 after seeing his two fight winning streak snapped.
Best of the rest
Elsewhere on the card veteran Yuki Kondo (62-37-9), who debuted in MMA in 1996 for Pancrase, recorded a win in his 108th pro fight as the 45-year-old defeated Yoshinori Suzuki (6-16-2) by decision in a welterweight bout.
Hirotaka Nakata (3-1) stopped UFC veteran Issei Tamura (13-12) in round one in their featherweight fight. Popular youngster Nori Date (4-4) returned to the winning column, she beat boxer Raika Emiko (11-8) by decision at flyweight.
Undefeated prospect Rui Imura (5-0) needed less than a minute to finished Masahide Hiraoka (7-6) with punches in their bantamweight bout. Akira Maeda’s protégé Ryo Asami (10-11) continued his two-year winning streak against submission specialist Tokitaka Nakanishi (5-3) as the judo and sambo specialist put the latter to sleep in the final second of their featherweight fight.