Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where Jed Meshew and Alexander K. Lee shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
This week, we were treated to a Fight of the Year candidate from the storied Pancrase promotion in Japan, and we also take a look at some strong regional efforts from Classic Entertainment & Sports MMA and the Xtreme Fight Night organization.
Senzo Ikeda vs. Yuya Wakamatsu
AL: We’re actually going to start off with one of the last fights of the weekend, a flyweight championship match from Sunday’s Pancrase 293 show in Tokyo between Ikeda and Wakamatsu. Simply put, this is arguably the best MMA bout I’ve seen in 2018 so far. Would you agree?
JM: Considering we’re only a month in, that’s not exactly saying a ton but off the top of my head I can’t think of anything that beats it other than maybe Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald? This fight was definitely a more fun bout, but the flyweight King of Pancrase title means a little bit less than the Bellator welterweight championship I think.
While this one started slowly, by the third round these dudes are out here swinging hammers. And Pancrase has open scoring! It’s an awesome thing and I think it could have played a role in how this fight played out over the championship rounds. Ikeda knew he was behind going into the fifth and he dug deep and got the job done.
AL: I’ve never been enamored with the idea of open scoring, but it just works for some promotions, so what do I know? What really wowed me about this fight was the volume of strikes from both men, and for the most part they were able to maintain their extraordinary output without sacrificing technique. As you mentioned, the action picked up in Round 3, where it seemed like there was a punch or kick being thrown every three seconds or so.
Surprisingly, it’s the 35-year-old Ikeda who tries to style and profile against an opponent 13 years his junior, and Wakamatsu makes him pay in Round 4 with a stiff right that drops Ikeda. However, Ikeda is tough as hell and sucked the life out of Wakamatsu with a knee to the body, followed by knees and elbows to the head to pick up the fifth-round TKO.
This is a must watch and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Ikeda in the future. Post-fight, he mentioned wanting to be signed by the UFC.
JM: This is the kind of fight Missed Fists was created for. There isn’t one standout highlight that people may have seen but if you’re a hardcore fight fan, this battle should be right up your alley. Plus, it’s on available for replay on UFC Fight Pass, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t go watch this.
Takafumi Ato vs. Toshiya Takashima
AL: Also of note from the Pancrase show is a strawweight encounter between Ato and Takashima. Male fighters competing 115 pounds don’t get a lot of opportunities in North America, but Ato and Takashima show why it’s a viable division overseas. Sporting a 7-7 record, Ato came out of the gates with something to prove and he got the better of Takashima with some aggressive wrestling in Round 1.
JM: Yeah, this is also a decent scrap and but since it’s three minute rounds, the fight does feel a lesser. I’ve never much liked short rounds for MMA because it feels like fighters need more time for grappling exchanges to develop appropriately. Also, it reminds me of the old days when WMMA had three minute rounds for no reason other than abject sexism.
AL: I actually didn’t mind it in this case, as it appeared to provide the fighters with some urgency. For example, Takashima definitely didn’t want to be taken down again in Round 2 here and he really stepped up his wrestling defense because he knew any time spent on the mat could mean death on the scorecards. Not that they didn’t find time for some unique grappling exchanges:
But yes, I remember getting jazzed up for the first time I saw Gina Carano fight in EliteXC and the three minute rounds (two minute rounds before that!) came off as incredibly insulting. I’m glad those days are behind us.
JM: Now onto something a little more violent.
Lewis Erives vs. Warren Williams
Jimi Natividad vs. John Yannies
JM: Last Friday in Tulsa, Okla., XFN 346 featured a pair of brutal knockouts. Natividad face-planted Yannies with a counter right hand and Erives sent Williams to the shadowlands with his own overhand right:
AL: Both of these knockouts were memorable, but I’ll give the edge to Erives for his beautifully timed overhand counter. Readers can check out that finish above and while there doesn’t appear to be a clip of the Natividad KO floating around out there, you can find it on the free replay of the show, which is available on FITE TV.
There was another regional show on Saturday featuring two bouts that captured our attention, CES 48 in Lincoln, R.I.
Shane Manley vs. Dylan Lockard
AL: Lockard is a disciple of Olympic judoka and two-time Bellator title challenger Rick Hawn. He came into this one with a 3-0 record, but faced a stiff test against the slightly more experienced Manley. Some good back-and-forth action ensued.
JM: I’m gonna be honest here, this fight confused me. Despite both men looking like competent grapplers, neither of them could hold position to save their lives. This almost looked like a flow-rolling session with the sheer amount of sweeps and movement going on on the mat. Clearly neither of them learned “position before submission”, but that worked out for us and we got some tricky scrambles to enjoy.
AL: That’s jazz, baby!
JM: That joke fell on its face harder than Timothy Woods.
AL: Too soon.
Tim Caron vs. Timothy Woods
AL: What Jed is referring to is an ugly finish later in the show that saw Woods knock himself out in brutal fashion when he attempted to trip Caron down to the mat:
Scary stuff, but fortunately Woods would later respond to fans on Twitter and confirm that he was alright.
JM: Still not the most embarrassing in-cage mishap of the weekend. Those honors belong to this guy from XFN.
Brian Marino vs. Jerome Mickle
AL: In an attempt to close this out on a high note, I’ll point out that prior to Woods ending himself, there was a hard-fought 165-pound catchweight bout between Marino and Mickle. This one came with a compelling backstory, as Marino was competing for the first time since November 2010 after completing two tours of duty.
He gave up a lot of size to Mickle, but his wrestling was more than enough to foil Mickle when the taller man started to get the better of their fun, if somewhat sloppy striking exchanges.
Look for a replay of this fight to show up on AXS TV at some point.
If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.