Newly-crowned Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Rin Nakai will return to action on May 19th at Pancrase 247 in Tokyo, Japan. Nakai faces unbeaten KOTC Junior Flyweight Champion Brenda “Boom Boom” Gonzales in a non-title bantamweight matchup. The bout was officially announced today.
Nakai captured the Pancrase women’s title under dubious circumstances in December by defeating Danielle West in a controversial bout that banned West from winning the fight due to a weight disparity. Gonzales claimed the KOTC title in October and retained the belt with a TKO victory in December.
Nakai (13-0-1) has long been a polarising figure in her home country. The former Valkyrie champion has a dedicated fanbase, but she has also faced criticism at times for her eccentric behaviour and lacklustre performances inside the ring, including in both of her fights with West. Nakai and West first faced off in September 2011 in a closely-contested bout that many observers felt that West had won. However, two judges disagreed and the bout was ruled a Split Draw. Nakai took a hiatus from competition after the fight when Japanese fans began to question her skills and dedication.
In May, Nakai returned to Pancrase and proceeded to pick up stoppage victories in each of her next two fights to set up a rematch with West for the inaugural Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase title. West was unable to make weight for the fight and was deemed ineligble to win the title. Pancrase officials applied additional sanctions that limited which attacks West could use in the fight and ruled that a West victory would be deemed a Draw or a No Contest. Nakai ultimately won a close Unanimous Decision in the rematch to become the first female champion in Pancrase history.
Gonzales (4-0-0) has taken progressive steps up in competition during her young MMA career and she captured the KOTC Junior Flyweight Championship from Sarah “Too Sweet” Alpar with a Unanimous Decision victory in October. The bout marked the first time that Gonzales had ever fought to a decision. The New Mexico native made a quick return to the cage to face veteran Elsie “The Sweetheart” Zwicker in December and retained her KOTC belt with a second-round TKO stoppage. Three of Gonzales’s four victories have come via knockout and she is one of the flyweight division’s top female prospects.
Nakai’s new title will not be on the line in the bout with Gonzales, but both fighters will enter the fight with something to prove. Nakai hopes to move past the controversy that has surrounded her at times in her career by defeating a credible and unbeaten opponent, while Gonzales looks for her biggest victory to date as she moves up in weight to challenge Nakai. A Gonzales victory would likely set up a rematch for the Pancrase title at a later date.
Pancrase 247 takes place on May 19th at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)