Rin Nakai vs Sarah D'Alelio Non-Title Bout Set For Pancrase 258Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Rin Nakai returns to action to face off against arguably her toughest opponent to date on May 11th at Pancrase 258 in Tokyo, Japan. The undefeated champion is set to battle Invicta FC contender Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio in a non-title bout on the card.

D’Alelio first announced her participation in the fight earlier this week and Pancrase officials confirmed plans for the matchup on Thursday. Nakai became the inaugural Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase in late 2012 and she most recently defeated Tara LaRosa at Pancrase 252 in September.

Nakai (15-0-1) has long been one of Japan’s most talked about female fighters, both for her flamboyant and provocative attire and for controversy that has stemmed from the outcomes of recent fights. After competing as a flyweight for much of the first half of her career, Nakai put on a significant amount of muscle mass and she became the first and only Valkyrie Open-Weight Champion in late 2010. When Valkyrie collapsed, Nakai returned to Pancrase in 2011 and fought to a contentious Split Draw in a fight with Danielle “The Honey Badger” West that many observers felt that West had won.

Following the bout, Nakai took an eight-month hiatus from fighting due to fan criticism over her poor performance against West. She stepped back into the Pancrase ring as a bantamweight and defeated pro wrestling convert Kyoko Kimura and Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki in succession. The victories set up a rematch with West for the inaugural Bantamweight Queen of Pancrase title, but West’s inability to make weight for the fight resulted in a number of stipulations being attached that made it extremely difficult for her to win. In the end, Nakai prevailed via Unanimous Decision to capture the new title.

Since winning the belt, Nakai has fought twice inside the Pancrase ring. She submitted Brenda “Boom Boom” Gonzales with a first-round rear-naked choke this past May and most recently picked up a narrow three-round Majority Decision victory over LaRosa on September 29th. Just as in the bouts with Gonzales and LaRosa, Nakai’s title will not be on the line when she faces D’Alelio next month, but a D’Alelio victory will result in an immediate rematch for the belt.

D’Alelio (7-5-0) has built up a wealth of experience in just 12 professional MMA fights. The jiu-jitsu specialist trains with many of the sport’s top female competitors in California and she has already battled a number of top-ten opponents in the women’s bantamweight division including reigning UFC champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Following a controversial loss to Rousey under the Strikeforce banner, D’Alelio signed with the upstart Invicta Fighting Championships promotion and she has since gone on to become one its top contenders at 135 pounds.

D’Alelio competed on each of the first four Invicta FC cards, totalling submission victories over Vanessa Mariscal and Vanessa Porto as well as a dominant Unanimous Decision win over current UFC standout Amanda “Lioness” Nunes. She appeared to be one win away from a title shot, but dropped a close decision to Lauren Murphy in July. Murphy went on to capture the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship in December and D’Alelio now looks for a fresh start in Japan after she was outpointed by veteran wrestler Tonya “Triple Threat” Evinger at Invicta FC 7.

Earlier this month, Pancrase announced changes to its rules and round structure. Fights will now be contested inside a cage and elbow strikes will be legal. A ten-point must system will be used for scoring. Soccer kicks will no longer be permitted and the promotion has done away with two-round fights. All bouts will now be contested using either three 3:00 rounds or three 5:00 rounds. The fight between Nakai and D’Alelio will use three 5:00 rounds.

Pancrase 258 takes place on May 11th at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan.



(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)