PANCRASE 246 – 03/17/2013: This Time, An Affiliation With Rebels

Needless to say, Pancrase really like this "affiliation" thing.

First, it was American Kick Boxing Academy, then, the next was, Wanderlei Silva's Wand Fight Team based in Vegas.

And, this time, Pancrase shook hands with a kickboxing promotion called REBELS.

At the press conference held in Tokyo, Masakazu Sakai, the owner of Pancrase, stated, "Ever since we started new operation last year, we have been trying something new, and this time, by associating with a kickboxing promotion, I am hoping to, again, add something new to the fight industry. From this affiliation, I am hoping to raise fighters from amateur level all the way up to the level where, eventually, those fighters can be fighting at the world stage."

REBELS chairman Genki Yamaguchi added, "At the Cross Point gym, where REBELS are based out of, there are many fighters doing MMA and BJJ so I was thinking of a good way to build some road for these athletes."

To begin their affiliation, HINATA will be fighting in the Pancrase show this weekend. Not under the MMA rules though. A popular veteran from REBELS is fighting under very familiar REBELS rules where elbow strikes are prohibited and Muay Thai clinch is allowed for only three-second. And HINATA is going to take on Masakazu Yasukouchi from Wajiutsu Keishukai. Yasukouchi is a 31-year old veteran with a pro kickboxing record of 6 wins and 7 losses. (His MMA record is 2-2) For a fighter like HINATA who is only 26-year old yet has posted 25-14-1, Yasukouchi is not exactly the toughest opponent. In fact, this is the fight everyone is expecting HINATA to win. So, Pacnrase and REBELS can kick off their relationship with something positive.

I was assuming, the next step for these two promotions has to got to be a team competition, however, Sakai said, "It doesn't make sense for us to just do a team competition. Our goal is to produce fighters that can fight in the world level and that is something Chairman Yamaguchi and I agreed."

Therefore, their plan is little more than just exchanging fighters.

At the Cross Point gym, Pancrase is going to open MMA classes, and also, Pancrase amateur bouts will be held in the REBELS shows.

Basically, REBELS / Cross Point is entering into the MMA industry, and they have chosen a 20-year old MMA promotion as their partner.

At the press conference, HINATA himself admitted, "This time I am doing a kick boxing rules bout but I want MMA fans to remember me. I want to leave that kind of impact. Right now I am taking MMA classes twice a week. MMA is really fun so in the future, when I am prepared, I would like to challenge doing MMA fights".
This also means, many of kick boxers in Japan are, at least, thinking about shifting to MMA and I predict this is going to be just a beginning.

Right now, for fighters in Japan, unless if you are a boxer looking to take the world title, if you wanna make a living by just training and fighting, then you gotta do MMA. It doesn't mean Japan's kick boxing promotions are not doing well. In fact, not only REBELS, but also, Krush and all the other kick boxing promotions are doing quite stable, but its just not enough for the champions to make big bucks.

Besides pro boxing, the market is not that big for the other fight sports in Japan.

Right now, majority of younger generation of athletes in a combat sports really has no idea what PRIDE is. When it comes to MMA most of them only know UFC and after two successful shows in Japan, UFC has become a driving force for even kick boxers to reconsider their career.

And this theory also applies to gyms and promotions and REBELS / Cross Point is the first official one openly admitting of getting into MMA. That's all. I think we are going to see the same thing happening more and more for next few years.

Sunday, March 17th, 2013
At Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
Doors Open – 14:30
Fight Starts – 15:15

Confirmed Cards (Subject to Change):

Featherweight King of Pancrase Title Bout 5 min / 3R
TAKUMI (Japan / Paraestra Osaka) vs. Koji Oishi (Japan / Pancrase-ism)

Featherweight Bout 5 min / 3R
Jon "Killer" Shores (USA / Rodeo Style) vs. Yojiro Uchimura (Japan / Ingram)

Super-flyweight Bout 5 min / 3R
Daichi Kitaka (Japan / Pancrase Inagaki-gumi) vs. Atsushi Yamamoto (Japan / KRAZY BEE)

Welterweight Bout 5 min / 3R
Eiji Ishikawa (Japan / GRABAKA) vs. Kenji Nagaki (Japan / WRESTLE-WIN)

Lightweight Bout 5 min / 3R
AB (Japan / Wajiutsu Keishukai Suruga Dojo) vs. Kota Okazawa (Japa / Nova Uniao Japan)

Bantamweight Bout 5 min / 2R
Shintaro Ishiwatari (Japan / CAVE) vs Nobuhito Yoshitake (Japan / Pancrase Inagaki-gumi)

Flyweight Bout 5 min / 2R
Tiger Ishii (Japan / Paraestra Kichijouji) vs. Takamasa Kiuchi (Japan / Wajiutsu Keishukai GODS)

PANCRASE VS WAND FIGHT TEAM 3 vs 3 Lightweight Bout 5 min / 3R
Yoshiaki "Bancho" Takahashi (Japan / Paraestra Hachiouji) vs Michael Costa (Brazil / WAND FIGHT TEAM)

PANCRASE VS WAND FIGHT TEAM 3 vs 3 Lightweight Bout 5 min / 3R
ISAO (Japan / Sakaguchi Dojo) vs Dave Mazany (USA / WAND FIGHT TEAM)

Lightweight Bout 5 min / 2R
Juntaro Ami (Japa / Wajiutsu Keishu-kai AKZA) vs AKIRA (Japan / Kugeyama Rascal Gym)

REBLES Presents – Kick Boxing Rules 70 kg & Under Bout 3 min / 3R
HINATA (Japan / Cross Point Kichijouji) vs Masakazu Yasukouchi (Japan / Wajiutsu Keishukai)

Ticket Prices:
VIP – 12,000 yen
SS – 10,000 yen
A – 8,000 yen
B – 6,000 yen
*500 yen more at the door.

Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (