Picking up her third straight win, Japanese veteran “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba outlasted boxing standout Monica Lovato in a two-round bout at Pancrase Passion Tour 8. Sunaba used effective leg kicks and knees en route to a competitive but convincing Unanimous Decision.
With the victory, Sunaba remains unbeaten in her 2010 campaign and her career is back on track after a tough 0-4-1 streak against elite opposition. The talented kickboxer controlled much of the bout with Lovato and picked up her biggest win since late 2008 in the process.
Sunaba opened the fight with hard leg kicks right away as Lovato looked to set up her trademark left cross. Sunaba kept her distance and continued to pick the boxer apart with kicks to Lovato’s lead leg. Lovato caught a body kick from Sunaba and briefly took her down, but Sunaba scrambled back to her feet. She landed more leg kicks and the fighters exchanged jabs. Lovato caught another kick and ate a series of punches for her efforts.
More kicks landed for Sunaba, but Lovato clinched and scored a takedown. The fighters were moved to the centre of the ring. Lovato threw punches from the top and attempted a pair of slams, but was forced to fight off an armbar. Lovato slammed her way out of the hold, but Sunaba got back to her feet in the process. Lovato backed Sunaba into a corner and Sunaba fired back with punches. In the final seconds of the round, Sunaba teed off with punches, leg kicks and a knee to the body. 10-9 Sunaba.
Lovato, perhaps knowing that she was down on the scorecards, came out aggressively in the second round and looked to land punching combinations. She caught kicks from Sunaba and backed her into the corner. Lovato landed punches to the head and body in close until referee Yoshinori Umeki separated the fighters. Sunaba resumed her assault on Lovato’s lead leg, which was now red and swollen from the barrage of kicks.
Lovato clinched again, but Sunaba countered with a Thai plum and drilled her with knees to the body. Lovato answered with punches to the body until the fighters were separated once more. Sunaba sidestepped a big left hand from Lovato and replied with crisp counterpunches. A one-two and a knee to the body followed for Sunaba and she continued to keep the pressure on with more knees in close. In the final seconds, Sunaba scored with a combination and another barrage of knees. 10-9 Sunaba.
Winner: Tomomi Sunaba by Unanimous Decision (20-18, 20-19, 20-19) after two 5:00 rounds. She improves to 15-12-1 with the win.
Arguably one of the top three female strikers in Japanese MMA, Sunaba showed that she is still capable of competing with and defeating some of the top fighters in the division. Her game plan of leg kicks and knees in close allowed her to avoid the big punches of Lovato, who was clearly gunning for a knockout victory in her Pancrase debut.
Thanks to Tony Loiseleur for live Pancrase play-by-play.
(Photo Credit: Pancrase)