Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Rin Nakai battled back from adversity to score the biggest win of her career tonight at Pancrase 252 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. Nakai’s strong final round was enough to propel her to a Majority Decision win over Tara LaRosa in a non-title fight on the card.
After a close and competitive first round, LaRosa rocked Nakai with a right cross early in the second stanza and she took the round on one judge’s scorecard. Nakai secured a takedown in round three and she scored with ground and pound and submission attempts en route to a huge victory.
Nakai (15-0-1) circled on the outside and landed leg kicks in the opening round while LaRosa (21-4-0) established her jab and looked to counter with right hands. LaRosa pressed the action and Nakai stopped her forward momentum by tying LaRosa up in the clinch. LaRosa landed knees and broke free. Nakai landed more leg kicks before the end of the round, which was scored 10-10 by all three judges.
In the second round, Nakai once again scored with early leg kicks, but LaRosa cracked her with a hard counter right hook. Nakai stumbled and nearly fell, but she managed to clinch and recovered. She used a double-leg takedown to get LaRosa down and took her back. LaRosa shook Nakai off, but Nakai got back control once more. She tried for a rear-naked choke before the bell. One judge scored the round 10-9 for LaRosa due to the early damage, while the remaining two had it even at 10-10.
Round three began with right hands from LaRosa and Nakai kicked from a distance. She took LaRosa down and used hammerfist strikes to set up a move to side control. From there, Nakai worked for a kimura and landed some solid ground and pound. She stayed on top and continued to score with punches as time ticked down. LaRosa swept late in the fight and Nakai attempted an armbar.
After three hard-fought rounds, Nakai’s late-fight rally proved to be just enough to earn her the victory. Judge Wada scored the final round 10-8 in Nakai’s favour for a 30-28 scorecard. Judges Tomiyama and Kosuge both had it 10-9 Nakai for final scorecards of 30-29 and 29-29, respectively.
Nakai has faced heavy criticism for lacklustre performances in past fights, but her win over LaRosa tonight solidified her place as a contender in the bantamweight division.
Winner: Rin Nakai by Majority Decision (30-28, 30-29, 29-29) after three rounds. She improves to 15-0-1.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)