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Missed Fists: Mitsuhira Sunabe remains King of Pancrase with wicked slam, more

Mitsuhira Sunabe sets up Shinya Murofushi for a big fall at Pancrase 295 in Tokyo on April 15
UFC Fight Pass

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.

There was a ton of great international action this past week and the highlights we have this week are spectacular so without further ado, let’s visit the venerable Pancrase promotion where one of its kings kept his crown in violent fashion.

Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Shinya Murofushi

AL: Mitsuhisa Sunabe has been a mainstay on the Japanese MMA scene since 2001, competing in the lightest weight classes. He’s the current King of Pancrase at 115 pounds and he’s riding an absurd 15-fight win streak. However, the main event of Pancrase 295 in Tokyo on Sunday presented him with a strong challenger, the confident and unpredictable Shinya Murofushi.

JM: It’s a real shame that nobody has any idea who Sunabe is because way back before there was Demetrious Johnson or even BJ Kojima, he was slamming dudes in Pancrase. Sunabe was never the best fighter in the world but he has been a thoroughly entertaining one for almost two decades now. That is insane! And even at 38 he’s still adding to his highlight reel by slamming the life out of poor Murofushi.

AL: Murofushi was putting up a good fight and since Pancrase has an open scoring system, we actually know that he was up one round to none after the first five minutes. The opening frame actually ended with Murofushi working a guillotine choke and it looks like that idea got stuck in his head because he went for it again in round two and as you can see the result was not favorable for him.

Make that 16 straight for Sunabe.

JM: Notice how he grabbed the head before the slam to make sure Murofushi’s head had nowhere to go but into the land of wind and ghosts? Wicked finish.

AL: He wasn’t the only one to pull off something nasty and while we can’t cover every exciting maneuver we saw on the card, there was one submission that stood out for us.

Tatsuya So vs. Suguru Hayasaka

JM: More like sat out . . . (do you see what I did there?).

AL: No.

JM: Come on!

AL: Just no.

JM: Fine. On a weekend where Adam Wieczorek turned in only the second-ever omoplata submission in UFC history, he went and got outdone by a card on Fight Pass when Tatsuya So channeled his inner Jerry Bohlander and submitted Suguru Hayasaka with a crucifix neck crank two minutes into the first round of their 115-pound fight.

AL: I don’t know how you even begin to get stuck in this position. Is there a reason we don’t see this hold used more often? Because it looks ridiculously painful and I want to know why someone like Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t just slap this on some fool while he’s having his way with them.

JM: Because you have to give up double unders and have your head down low and the underhooks have to be super deep, all of which happened here. If you watch how it comes about, Hayasaka goes for a low ankle pick, gets it, and then just leaves his head in as So starts locking his arms up. Like the the Von Flue choke, it basically requires you to keep doing a bad thing well beyond the point you should have stopped. And the surprising thing here is Hayasaka was considered the grappler coming into this!

AL: In other words: Protect ya neck!

If you want to check out those fights and the rest of the Pancrase 295 show (including an appearance from 57-fight veteran Satoru Kitaoka!), it is available to stream on the UFC’s Fight Pass service.

AL: Next up, I went down a deep well to check out a tournament that took place in Krasnodar, Russia, last Friday — Tech-Krep FC: PRIME Selection 2018.

Rolls right off the tongue.

This was a one-night welterweight tournament showcasing fighters with limited pro experience and some of them showed some serious potential. Let’s not forget that it’s shows like this with two-round fights that Nurmagomedov cut his teeth on early in his career.

The very first fight saw a great finish by Vladislav Zelikov, who stopped a flurry from opponent Mukhamed Urusov before dusting him with a huge right hand.

JM: I’m really only invested in this one because one-night tournaments are MMA in its purest form: chaotic and likely to end in an unsatisfying manner. Sure, there are some guys throwing heat on this card, but like you said, most of these people have limited experience. It’s tough to get a read on who could end up being a legit prospect. After all, in his very next fight, Zelikov gets smoked by the 1-2 Makhmud Musalov.

AL: Right, that’s part of what made watching this such a rollercoaster for me. After Zelikov’s KO, I was like, “This guy is one to watch.” Then he gets into a brawl with Musalov and gets creamed himself. So then I jump on the Musalov bandwagon hoping that he wins in the finals and… well, you can figure out what happened next.

JM: You aren’t fooling anyone, we know you were just on the Zelikov bandwagon because of his sick elephant chest tat.

AL: Mostly that, yes.

JM: Sadly, as the one Ukrainian in a sea of Russian fighters, he never stood a chance. The North Caucasus region is home to some of the best MMA talent on the planet and in the end, it was Eldar Khashpakov who won the tournament which is probably fair since he was one of the better fighters in the field.

AL: Khashpakov bumped up his record to 8-2 in just a few hours, not bad work if you can get it.

The entire tournament can be watched on YouTube, just be ready to hear the same COPS title theme entrance music over and over again.

Damian Janikowski vs. Yannick Bahati

AL: Let’s take a quick stop over in Wroclaw, Poland, to check in on Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki 43. There was plenty of notable action on Saturday’s card, including former UFC heavyweight Philip De Fries claiming KSW gold with a first-round finish of Michal Andryszak and Dricus Du Plessis continuing his winning ways by putting away rival Roberto Soldic in the main event.

But come on, if we’re talking Polish MMA, then what we want is the titanically muscled hometown heroes and the co-main event delivered with bronze medal-winning Olympic wrestler Damian Janikowski putting on a show against Yannick Bahati.

JM: Come on, you already know my thoughts on KSW. It’s the best fight promotion on the planet. Just look at this poster!

The UFC hasn’t done anything that fun in years.

AL: What’s crazy is that nothing in that image has been Photoshopped.

JM: As for Janikowski, yes he totally obliterates that poor fellow in seconds but his performance left me with many unanswered questions: Were those tattoos or advertisements covering his body? How many back somersaults/flips can he do in a row if he wasn’t confined by the cage? Is he related to Sebastian Janikowski?

AL: You are not the first person to ask me that if he’s related to Sebastian, so I’m just going to say yes. Yes, he is.

Also, the KSW show was filled with fighters covered in temporary sponsor tattoos, which we occasionally saw in the UFC before Reebok came in and ruined everything. Shout outs to Golden Palace.

The preliminary portion of KSW 43 also featured a back-and-forth banger between Michal Michalski and David Zawada (who was just announced as a participant in the upcoming Professional Fighters League season), and you can watch that and the rest of the show on KSWTV for the price of a cheap lunch.

Carlos Briseno vs. Edgar Diaz

AL: We end on a wild note this week with the main event of Xtreme Fighters Latino 37 in Mexico City, Mexico, from last Friday. A technical masterpiece this was not, but if you want to see how one man defend against grappling with nothing but sheer determination and an overwhelming desire to smash, then you have to check out this clip:

JM: This fight is somewhere between depressing and incredible. Briseno is an undefeated prospect out of Mexico and Diaz is a .500 fighter with not great grappling. This probably should have been a relatively easy takedown-and-submit him performance from Briseno but Diaz had other ideas. After eating a few Travis Browne elbows against the fence, Briseno finally drives forward on a takedown and lands in mount in the center of the cage. Fight over, right?

Nope. Diaz, does the smart thing and instead of defending himself or recomposing guard, he starts swinging, clubs Briseno from full bottom mount, and then turns the now-rocked fighter over where he finishes the fight off. On a weekend where the crucifix neck crank reappeared after 20 years, this may still have been the wildest thing to happen.

AL: Somehow I don’t think Luke Thomas is going to be breaking down Diaz’s technique on an analyst podcast anytime soon. This is a heck of a way to catch your first loss, implementing your game plan only to see it go up in flames when it turns out your dealing with an absolute maniac with zero regard for the concept of positional dominance.

JM: I mean, I just feel bad for the guy. He could go on to have a 10-year undefeated stretch, win the UFC title, and defend it a dozen times and now he’ll only ever be known as the guy who got dropped while in full mount. MMA is a cruel mistress sometimes.

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.

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