Former Valkyrie champion Rin Nakai and Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki are set to face off again in the opening round of the Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase tournament at Pancrase Progress Tour 10 on September 1st in Tokyo, Japan. The rematch was officially announced on Thursday.
Nakai picked up a first-round submission victory over Aoki at Valkyrie 7 in September 2010 and went on to win the promotion’s open-weight title two months later. She remains unbeaten in her mixed martial arts career. Aoki returned to MMA action with a quick win at Jewels: “19th Ring” in May.
Nakai (11-0-1) has long been regarded as one of the top female fighters in her home country of Japan, where she has developed a significant fan following. She has turned down offers from Strikeforce and Invicta FC in order to continue her quest to become the best in Japan and she now has a chance to claim the first female world championship in Pancrase history if she can win the Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase tournament. Eight of Nakai’s wins have come inside the distance and she needed less than three minutes to submit Aoki in the pair’s first meeting. She looks to pick up another win over the striker to advance on in the tournament.
Aoki (6-8-0) took a lengthy hiatus from MMA competition following Valkyrie’s collapse at the end of 2010, but she has remained active in the J-Girls kickboxing promotion and formerly held the J-Girls Interim Featherweight Championship. In July, Aoki faced featherweight champ Ayano Oishi in a J-Girls title unification bout, but she dropped a competitive decision after five rounds. Aoki’s lone MMA fight this year came at Jewels: “19th Ring” in May and she needed just over two minutes to submit a game but overmatched Keiko Tomita. Aoki enters the rematch with Nakai as an underdog, but she should hold an advantage if she can keep the fight on the feet.
Pancrase Progress Tour 10 takes place on September 1st at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan. The rematch between Nakai and Aoki is expected to serve as one of two semi-final bouts in the Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase tournament. The second semi-final will take place in October or November, with the final to follow soon after.
(Photo Credit: Valkyrie)