Japanese promotion Pancrase celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. To celebrate, a star-studded fight card is being put together for the Yokohoma Gymnasium on Sept. 29, which will feature two title fights and the return of Marlon Sandro.
Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary will see Sandro (24-5) return to the organization after a five-year absence to face ZST veteran Yojiro Uchimura (11-6-2). The Brazilian’s initially won the featherweight title in 2008 but vacated it last year.
Since winning that title, Sandro has made a name for himself fighting for Bellator. He reached the final of three successive 145-pound tournaments, only to lose out at the expense of Pat Curran in 2011, Daniel Strauss in 2012, and Frodo Khasbulaev in 2013.
The two title fights will see Lightweight King of Pancrase Isao Kobayashi (13-1-4) going up against Yoshiaki Takahashi (10-3-2) and Flyweight King of Pancrase Mitsuhisa Sunabe (18-7-4) taking on Noboru Tahara (12-6-1).
Ryo Kawamura (15-8-4) is the Middleweight King of Pancrase and also happens to be the organization’s executive president. He will be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak when he faces 44-year-old Kazuo Takahashi (30-26-3-1) in a two-round non-title fight.
Takahashi fought at the promotion’s first ever card. He defeated George Weingeroff with palm strikes at Pancrase: Yes, We Are Hybrid Wrestlers on Sept. 21, 1993. That inaugural show also featured the professional debuts of future UFC champions Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten.
Since then, Pancrase has undergone a number of changes to its rules and weight classes to bring them in line with those commonly used in the West. Pancrase also recently introduced a cage to replace the ring at certain events, a switch that was instigated in 2012 when the organization was taken over by former pro wrestling promotion Smash.
The Sept. 29 card will also feature the opening round of eight-man tournaments in the 135-pound and 155-pound divisions. Shuichi Shimizu, Yuki Baba, Taichi Nakajima, Marcio Cesar, Joe Pearson, Sirwan Kakai and Daniel Swain are all confirmed for the 135-pound division, while Shinji Sasaki, Hiroki Aoki, Hiroki Nagaoka, Felipe Olivieri, Richie Whitson, Bogdan Cristea and Dom O'Grady are set for the lightweight class.
A couple of recent Pancrase events have been made available to view live on U-Stream for $9.95. It is possible that the 20th anniversary show will also be shown online.