A 135-pound Queen of Pancrase title tournament begins on September 1st on the Pancrase 2012 Neo-Blood Tournament Finals card in Tokyo, Japan. The four- or eight-woman bracket includes unbeaten standout Rin Nakai and will determine the first Pancrase women’s bantamweight champion.
Pancrase officials announced plans for the tournament on Monday and also confirmed Nakai’s status as an official athlete of Pancrase as of July 1st. The title tournament is expected to feature one or more competitors from outside of Japan. Participants will be announced in the coming weeks.
Nakai (11-0-1) has long been regarded as one of the top female fighters in Japan, but she has struggled to find opponents in her home country in recent years. In September, she battled England’s Danielle “The Curse” West to a contentious Split Draw and opted to take time away from the sport following the disappointing result. She returned to action on May 20th and scored a dominant first-round submission win over pro wrestling veteran Kyoko Kimura. Nakai was then in talks to compete on the July 28th Invicta Fighting Championships 2 card, but she will instead remain under the Pancrase banner and will likely be a significant favourite to win the bantamweight tournament.
Pancrase plans to include eight female fighters in the title tournament, but the bracket may be scaled down to four fighters depending on availability. Many of the sport’s top female fighters at 135 pounds are currently signed to U.S.-based promotions Strikeforce and Invicta Fighting Championships, which may limit the options available to the pioneering Japanese organisation.
The inaugural 135-pound Queen of Pancrase tournament begins on September 1st on the Pancrase 2012 Neo-Blood Tournament Finals card at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan.
Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.
(Photo Credits: GBRing.com)