The first Pancrase card of 2014 will be headlined by a bantamweight title match between defending champion Shintaro Ishiwatari and challenger Yo Saito, and will also feature the return of veteran welterweight Yuki Kondo.
Ishiwatari (16-5-4) has won seven out of his last eight fights with the sole loss coming at the hands of Kyoji Horiguchi in the fifth round of a dramatic fight at VTJ 2nd last year. He has been Bantamweight King of Pancrase since defeating Manabu Inoue in December 2011.
Sato (13-8-3) doesn’t have such an impressive record, but has earned his title shot on the back of five straight wins, three of them under the Pancrase banner. He is renowned for his guillotine choke with six of his nine submission wins coming via this method.
It has been over 13 years since Yuki Kondo’s UFC career came to an unsuccessful end, but the 38-year-old, who currently competes in the welterweight division, is still seeing regular action as he approaches a century of MMA fights.
Kondo (55-28-9) faces an unbeaten opponent 14 years his junior in the form of Toshikazu Suzuki (7-0-1), who is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak and will be looking for the biggest win of his career against the UFC and Pride veteran.
Yusuku Kawanago (13-4) is the reigning Legend FC 145-pound champion, but has spent over a year on the sidelines as the Hong Kong based promotion wound down operations. He will be looking to improve on his current three-fight winning streak when he takes on Hiroyuki Oshiro (3-1-1), who dropped a majority decision to Guy Delumeau in his most recent outing.
The 19-fight card contains just one foreign fighter with TUF veteran Andy Main (7-1-0-1) taking on Akira Okada (7-3-2) in a lightweight match-up. Pancrase 256 is set for Differ Ariake in Tokyo on Sunday night and will be the last time the long running Japanese promotion holds fights inside a ring before switching permanently to a cage.
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