MMASucka’s Fight of the Month for February 2018: All-out war to become the flyweight King of Pancrase

(Akihito Tatematsu / asiamma.com)

February 2018 provided a decent number of contenders for a potential Fight of the Month candidate.

The first event of the month was CES 48, where we saw the first potential contender as Brian Marino and Jerome Mickle slugged it out in Rhode Island. That same weekend we saw Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith go to war on the same card that Lyoto Machida and rising star Eryk Anders battled it out for 25-minutes in Belem, Brazil.

MMASucka’s Fight of the Month for February 2018: All-out war to become the flyweight King of Pancrase

Great start to the month, right? Well, there was one more event that weekend. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Pancrase 293 went live from Tokyo, Japan. It was here on February 4 where the best fight of the month would take place, and it was pretty clear that the chances of anything passing it up in the remaining weeks were slim to none.

(Akihito Tatematsu / asiamma.com)

Senzo Ikeda vs. Yuya Wakamatsu

In the main event of Pancrase 293, there was a flyweight title fight featuring defending champion Senzo Ikeda facing off against “Little Piranha” Yuya Wakamatsu.

Ikeda entered the contest having won five of his last six, with that sole loss being a narrow split decision against Mamoru Yamaguchi. Ikeda then avenged this loss in August of last year.

An incredibly dangerous challenger, Wakamatsu came into the title opportunity having won nine-straight after losing his pro debut. Eight of those wins come via emphatic knockout.

On paper, this was a tremendous contest. As good a flyweight fight as you’re going to get anywhere. But if you didn’t know either of the two men prior to this fight, the commentary team of Stewart Fulton and Guy Delumeau did an excellent job of letting you know what was coming.

Both guys are known for their all-out style of fighting, each possessing great boxing technique and power to go along with it.

Wakamatsu, left, and champion Ikeda touch gloves prior to the start of round one

I will never do this fight justice simply by describing it, but I’ll at least try.

The first round saw Wakamatsu put the pressure on immediately, rushing the champion and getting right in his face. He was clearly looking to exchange early, but Ikeda used solid lateral movement and kept Wakamatsu at bay with his unorthodox striking style – despite being on the defensive.

In the final minute of round one, we finally saw the champion become the pressure fighter. Forcing a wild exchange and backing Wakamatsu up. The challenger wasn’t fazed too much, however, as he swung right back at the defending champion.

The second round is where things began to pick up. Both fighters were willing to exchange more. Wakamatsu utilized a stiff jab throughout and even opened up a cut near the right eye of Ikeda with a lead left hook. Ikeda refused to back up at all, though. Staying in the pocket as much as possible and throwing heavy shots of his own, including a couple very nice leg kicks.

Ikeda continued to throw with great variety in rounds three and four. Landing shots to the head and body, as well as leg kicks, which stood out compared to Wakamatsu’s more head-based attacks – despite both men having plenty of success. Both the champion and challenger are using the lead jab in round three in between throwing wild hooks and overhands. Each man at this point and ready and willing to fight in the pocket, and that is essentially where all of rounds three and four takes place. Both guys landing hard shots, but neither one taking one step back or pumping the brakes at all. Amidst the exchanges, Ikeda busted up the nose of Wakamatsu, as he is now bloody as well.

In round four, Ikeda appeared to begin taking over. He was looking fresher, and he was really starting to put everything together against a very game Wakamatsu. In the final thirty seconds of round four, though… Ikeda realized once more that he was indeed in a fight and that winning wouldn’t be that easy.

With thirty seconds remaining in the fourth round, the challenger landed a crushing right-hand on Ikeda, knocking him to the canvas in the process. The champion quickly got back to his feet but appeared to be out on his feet as Wakamatsu continued to pressure after hurting Ikeda.

Ikeda was able to hold on for dear life though, clinching up with Wakamatsu in the final ten seconds and holding the position until the bell rang. The champion is clearly wobbly whilst walking back to his corner, and the challenger is looking exhausted while in his corner after just throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Ikeda in that final thirty-seconds.

Early on in round five, Ikeda appears to have fully recovered between rounds and lands some knees to the body before landing some solid standing elbows in the clinch. Wakamatsu responded by putting his hands on his hips and walking down the champion, making Ikeda laugh in the process. The two fighters continued to exchange and attempt to put their seemingly unfinishable opposition away.

Finally, with two minutes remaining in the fight, Ikeda forced the challenger up against the fence and began to tee off with brutal standing elbows and knees to the head. Wakamatsu refused to fall, but despite being tough, his lack of defense or response to this brutal barrage of strikes forced the referee to step in.

Senzo Ikeda makes the first defense of his title and remains the Flyweight King of Pancrase after an all-out war with Yuya Wakamatsu.

The champion wins his fourth-straight and improves to 12-6-1, the challenger has his stellar nine-fight win streak snapped and falls to a very respectable 9-2.

Senzo Ikeda, right, and Yuy Wakamatsu show the damage each received following their Pancrase 293 main event

If you have read this far, that is awesome. But I still feel like I need to tell you to ignore everything previously stated and go watch the fight for yourself. Japanese MMA at its finest. Pancrase is alive and well and continues to deliver in massive ways after 25-years.

Check out a few highlights below, but be sure to watch the full fight right here.

There were some great fights in February, here’s a list of some honorable mentions you should be sure to check out! And go back to the Fight of the Month from January if you haven’t already!

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Follow Mike on Twitter! @MikeLovesTacosX

Main Image via AsiaMMA.com

(Akihito Tatematsu / asiamma.com)

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. just watched this, what a fight! ikeda did a great job switching things up and fighting in the clinch after getting hurt in the 4th. nice write-up 🙂

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