Rin Nakai Becomes First Queen Of Pancrase Champion In TokyoRin Nakai kept her undefeated record intact and became the inaugural Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Champion tonight at Pancrase Progress Tour 14 in Tokyo, Japan. Nakai earned a competitive decision victory over Danielle “The Honey Badger” West in a rematch from September 2011.

West was unable to make weight at yesterday’s weigh-ins and was deemed ineligible to win the title if she defeated Nakai in the rematch. It was Nakai who walked away with the belt, however, as she displayed improved striking and controlled the ground battles to take the win on all three scorecards.


Nakai (13-0-1) and West (4-5-1) previously fought to a contentious Split Draw in a non-title fight 15 months ago, with many feeling that West had deserved to win the close fight. A dejected Nakai took a lengthy break from fighting following the first bout, but returned to action with two victories earlier this year to set up the title rematch tonight.

In the opening round, Nakai stayed on the outside early on as she avoided West’s jabs and punching combinations. Nakai eventually shot in for a takedown and got West down, but West was active from the bottom and postured for an armbar. Nakai defended and the fight returned to the feet. The fighters traded punches until Nakai secured another takedown late in the round. Two judges saw the first round even at 10-10, while a third had it 10-9 for Nakai.

Nakai clinched to defend against West’s punches in the second round and the referee soon intervened to break the fighters apart. Nakai jabbed and landed leg kicks, then took West back down to the mat. From the bottom, West trapped Nakai in a leg scissors choke, but Nakai pulled her head free and worked for a Kimura from North-South position. She was unable to secure the submission, but her ground control was enough to take the round 10-9 on two judges’ scorecards. A third had the middle stanza even at 10-10.

In the final round, Nakai stuck to her strategy of using jabs to set up takedown attempts, but West had much more success in defending and staying on her feet. Nakai was able to get West down very briefly, but West quickly returned to her feet and resumed chasing Nakai around the ring with punches. Nakai kept her distance and tried unsuccessfully for a takedown. West sprawled and remained the aggressor until the bell, but her efforts were only enough to take the round 10-9 on one judge’s scorecard. The remaining two saw the final round 10-10.

Despite a somewhat passive third round, Nakai’s takedowns and ground control in the opening two rounds were enough to take the victory and the title. She has won three straight fights this year and now holds the first official Pancrase women’s championship.

Winner: Rin Nakai by Unanimous Decision (30-30 [Must Decision – Nakai], 30-29, 29-28) after three rounds. She improves to 13-0-1 and becomes the first Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Champion.


Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.



(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)

  1. Read that this fight was a total scam job by Pancrease to favor Rin. Danielle missed weight by 1kg and was told she was ineligible to win the title which is standard but that should then make it a non-title fight where neither fighter can win the belt but Rin was still eligible. Secondly, Danielle was informed that she could not use knees or chokes but her opponent did when she landed a knee to the face in the second round. Rules need to be clear to both fighters prior to a fight and enforced fairly. Pancrease lost some legitimacy with this garbage.

  2. In reply to comment above, so because one fighter stuffed up and didn’t make weight, that should make it a title fight? All it meant was that Rin Nakai had to overcome an even bigger disadvantage against a heavier opponent. Which means she deserved the belt even more when she won. No need to be biased now.

  3. Massive congratulations to Rin on a deserved victory and excellent performance. She is a truly amazing lady. It’s not Rin’s fault that Danielle failed to make the weight and she thoroughly deserves this title.

  4. Congrats to Rin on the victory but the promotion itself should be embarrassed. From sources close to the event Danielle was not provided a translator as promised, could not use knee’s or chokes but her opponent could, held in a room for over an hour after the fight while being yelled at for a bad performance and they demanded money from her because of that. No promotion should treat any fighter this way. This is your bias, Pancrease itself.

  5. Here is more background on the controversy including comments from other well respected wmma fighters Aisling Daly and Celine Haga and comments from Danielle herself. http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2012/12/3/3720978/asian-mma-pancrase-controvery-rin-nakai-rule-change You tell me how this is fair. This promotion should be fined or reprimanded somehow for it’s actions.

  6. For Danielle to come in above weight was incredibly unprofessional at this level which is what exposed her to potential problems with the authorities. However, she was mistreated in a number of ways and the whole situation was abysmally mishandled. Did it affect the outcome? Who knows? but the rules should still have remained the same for both fighters and a fine would have sufficed subject to everyone’s agreement that the fight should still go ahead. It was a very poor effort from Danielle to come in above weight but she didn’t deserve the treatment she received. It would be interesting to see what would happen if these two fought in London.

  7. Mazel tov
    Long live the Queen.