The inaugural Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase title will be up for grabs on December 1st when unbeaten Japanese standout Rin Nakai faces Danielle “The Honey Badger” West at Pancrase Progress Tour 14 in Tokyo, Japan. Pancrase officials announced plans for the title rematch earlier today.
Nakai and West first battled to a contentious Split Draw in a back-and-forth bout under the Pancrase banner in September 2011. Some observers felt that West had done enough to win the fight and she now looks to settle the score with Nakai by taking the Pancrase title back home to the U.K.
Nakai (12-0-1) was originally slated to be a part of a four-woman tournament to crown the first Pancrase women’s champion. She won her semi-final matchup by stopping Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki in a rematch two months ago, but Pancrase was unable to secure enough female fighters to complete the second half of the tournament bracket. As a result, Nakai, who formerly held the Valkyrie Open-Weight Championship, will instead have a chance to avenge the lone blemish on her record. She was soundly outstruck by West in the first fight, which was contested at a higher weight. However, Nakai was able to fight her way back to a Draw on the scorecards thanks to her formidable skills on the ground.
Should she get past West in the rematch, Nakai will become the first Queen of Pancrase and establish herself as one of MMA’s top female bantamweights outside of North America.
West (4-4-1) has maintained an active fighting schedule this year and she kicked off her 2012 campaign with a third-round TKO victory in February. Her next fight ended in a quick and disappointing loss to Russian prospect Milana Dudieva and a subsequent bout with Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya was scrapped at the last minute. Eager to compete in the United States for the first time, West accepted a short-notice bout with Julia “The Jewel” Budd earlier this month at Invicta FC 3, but Budd’s strength proved to be too much and West succumbed to strikes in the opening round. Despite the setbacks, West feels that she matches up well with Nakai and she believes that her hand will be raised at the end of the rematch.
West’s schedule for the rest of the year will be a busy one. In addition to the title fight, she is also preparing for the release of her novel, All Change Please, with a book signing in her original home state of Massachusetts next week. She then hopes to bring the Pancrase title back to her adopted home of England in December.
Pancrase Progress Tour 14 takes place on December 1st at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan.
(Photo Credit: Valkyrie)