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Sakuraba Student Takenori Sato Claims Welterweight Pancrase Crown

Kengo Ura's reign as the 5th Welterweight King of Pancrase was a short one as Kazushi Sakuraba student Takenori Sato dominated and submitted the defending champion less than five minutes into their bout at Pancrase: Impressive Tour 1 at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday.

Also on Pancrase's first effort for the year, Eiji Ishikawa derailed Masahiro Toryu, journeyman Hiroki Nagaoka battered Yuki Kondo who was making his welterweight debut and Seiya Kawahara made a successful return to the ring after almost a year off due to injury.

Takenori Sato claims King of Pancrase title.
From start to finish, Kazushi Sakuraba pupil Takenori Sato channeled his teacher in his defeat of Kengo Ura. Sato's acquisition of the welterweight Pancrase crown came easily as he employed the Laughter7 signature low single leg takedown and then, after avoiding a weak straight ankle lock attack, applied a kimura and wrenched it behind the back of Ura for a Royler Gracie versus Sakuraba style referee stoppage.

It has been less than two years since Sakuraba opened his Laughter7 gym in Omori Japan and so we haven't truly seen a fighter that Sakuraba has developed from the start, but fighters like Sato and Wataru Takahashi have started to adopt a style similar to the "Gracie Hunter", giving hope that perhaps Sakuraba may be able to pass on his skills one day.

Hiroki Nagaoka dominates Yuki Kondo
Entering the bout with a sub .500 record, Hiroki Nagaoka was meant to be an easy welcome to welterweight for Pancrase legend Yuki Kondo. Unfortunately though we may have seen the end of an era as Nagaoka dropped Kondo at will and controlled him easily to take the comfortable decision.

Almost every punch that touched the chin of Kondo crumpled the five-time King of Pancrase and he never was in the bout. Following his drubbing, Kondo was stretchered out of the venue and taken to the hospital, reportedly suffering from dehydration. Kondo had a tough time making the welterweight limit, cutting around 25-pounds for the bout.

Kondo has been past his prime for some years now but has never been this glass-jawed. It was truely concerning to see him so completely out of the fight and then unable to walk over an hour later.

Eiji Ishikawa out-wrestles Masahiro Toryu.
Eiji Ishikawa had Masahiro Toryu's December 2010 head kick KO of his Grabaka teammate Keiichiro Yamamiya in his mind on Sunday, as he clearly did not want to spend any extended period of time on the feet with the PANCRASEism striker.

Ishikawa employed a wrestling-based gameplan to smother Toryu and give him no space to work his kicks, sticking to him like glue throughout the two round affair to claim the rather unexciting, but impressive majority decision.

Seiya Kawahara makes a successful return against Takumi Murata.
One-time bantamweight Pancrase title contender "Saint" Seiya Kawahara made a successful return from injury to score a solid, although not hugely impressive, TKO victory over Wajutsu Keishukai's Takumi Murata.

Kawahara still has the power to finish fights, as he pounded Murata through the ropes for the referee stoppage in the second round, but if he hopes to regain his status as one of Japan's best prospects, he will need to work on his grappling as it still appears to be a weakness for him and hinders his ability to let his hands fly.

Tomonari Kanomata surives Tomoyuki Miyaji's guard to claim decision.
Masanori Kanehara teammate Tomonori Kanomata survived a hairy start in the guard of Tomoyuki Miyaji, as he spent most of the first round of their featherweight bout fighting off submission attempts. Towards the end of the first stanza and throughout the second, Kanomata found his groove to eventually solved the riddle on the canvas and claim mount and pound away for the final bell and the unanimous decision.

Akihito Tanaka gets a new beginning with impressive victory over Yuhei Fukuda.

Akihito Tanaka was not dressed as "Kinniku Mantaro, The 59th Prince of Planet Muscle" for his MMA return (actually, I'm a little disappointed) and showed that he has developed dramatically in the time spent in the gym over the past two years.

The seven-time All-Japan wrestling champion had no trouble with Yuhei Fukuda on the ground, taking him down and controlling him at will in side and back control, although he was unable to bring the finish.

Tanaka's punches on the ground and submissions were dramatically improved from the 2008 Bob Sapp bout and if he moved down another weight division to middleweight, could actually have the potential to be a force, at least within Pancrase.

One area the Sengoku sponsored fighter still needs work in though is his striking, as his reactions to being hit and stance still have a lot of room for improvement.

Pancrase: Impressive Tour 1 – Feb. 6, 2011 at Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
Welterweight King of Pancrase Title Fight
Takenori Sato def. Kengo Ura by Technical Submission (Kimura) - Round 1, 4:40

Eiji Ishikawa def. Masahiro Toryu by Majority Decision
Hiroki Nagaoka def. Yuki Kondo by Unanimous Decision
Seiya Kawahara def. Takumi Murata by TKO (Punches) - Round 2
Tomonari Kanomata def. Tomoyuki Miyaji by Unanimous Decision
Keiichiro Yamamiya vs. Kosei Kubota - Draw
Tashiro Nishiuchi def. Shoko Sato by Majority Decision
Masahiro Oishi vs. Masaya Takita - Draw
Akihito Tanaka def. Yuhei Fukuda by Unanimous Decision
Yoshihiro Matsunaga def. Takuya Eizumi by Unanimous Decision
Isao Hirose def. Hayato Sato by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)- Round 2, 1:43
Kazuki Tokudome def. Junichi Ota by TKO (Punches)- Round 1, 2:55

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