On December 31st, Shintaro Ishiwatari is coming back from almost a year of absence and will defend his bantamweight Pancrase title against Victor Henry.
The last time Ishiwatari fought in Pancrase, it was back in November of last year. He faced an UFC veteran named Jonathan Brookins in a non-title fight, and Ishiwatari lost this fight via unanimous decision.
That was a big blow to Ishiwatari. He was 29 and riding on a four-fight win streak. The prefect scenario would have been, beat Brookins and get a call from UFC. Although he took an unexpected loss, Ishiwatari didn't give up. He came back strong. Two months later, on December 31st, Ishiwatari TKO'd DEEP current 135 champion Takafumi Otsuka in little over 3 minutes.
He was looking good. And many thought, in 2015, Ishiwatari would climb back up and maybe signs with UFC. However, at the end of January of this year, during the training, Ishiwatari tore left triceps tendon.
At the press conference held in Tokyo on Tuesday, Pancrase head Masakazu Sakai explained, "I was thinking about vs Brookins as his come back fight but Henry is doing very well recently and I figured it would be beneficial for Ishiwatari to fight Henry. I want Pancrase champion to go to the world, going to the UFC so in this timing, I believe, fighting Henry is better for Ishiwatari. If the winner of this fight can go to UFC that would even be better too. I want to talk to Zuffa about this. I think this fight has that kind of value."
Ishiwatari said, "It was really long (till the come back). The surgery at the end of January, and, (my left arm) was on cast for six weeks. Took an entire two months to go back to a normal life without any disadvantage. I think Victor is a good opponent considering what he has achieved in Japan but I want show (to the world) that there is a guy named Ishiwatari in Pancrase and in Japan."
Sunday, December 13th, 2015
At Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
Doors Open – 13:30
Fight Starts – 14:00
Confirmed Cards (Subject to Change):
Pancrase Bantamweight Title Bout 5 min / 5R
Shintaro Ishiwatari (Japan / CAVE) vs Victor Henry (USA / CSW – Hybrid Fighter)
Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (www.boutreview.com)