Rin Nakai narrowly kept her unbeaten record intact today in Tokyo, Japan. The first and only Valkyrie open-weight champ battled England’s Danielle “The Curse” West to a Split Draw at Pancrase Impressive Tour 9 in a highly competitive bout that West surprisingly dominated in the later stages.
The event’s undercard featured a second women’s bout, which also ended without a victor. Veterans Naoko Omuro and Kayo Nagayasu fought to a Majority Draw after two rounds in a bout that saw both women land effective strikes. Omuro held a slight advantage in round two, but it was not enough.
Nakai (10-0-1) and West (3-2-1) traded punches early on and West dropped her opponent with a big right hook. She followed up with more punches, but Nakai recovered and got to her feet. Nakai scored with a combination and took West down, then tried for an armbar. West managed to free herself and attempted a kneebar. Nakai got out and tried for a series of armbars. West defended with hammerfists and the fighters were stood up. Punches were exchanged and West stuffed a takedown. She landed knees to the body, but Nakai got her down before the bell.
West scored at will with punches in round two, as Nakai displayed very little head movement and was hit by nearly every strike. Nakai tried for takedowns and eventually got West down to the mat. Nakai tried to move to mount, but had to settle for a keylock attempt from side control. West defended with a leg-scissor choke and Nakai escaped to mount. She landed punches, but West scrambled out and scored with a flurry of her own. Nakai took West down and worked for a keylock and an armbar before the end of the close round.
Round three began with more punches from West, who continued to dominate the striking exchanges. Nakai tried for takedowns, but ate some hard punches for her efforts. She eventually took West down and attempted another keylock, but West spun out and dropped big punches from the top. She threw more punches to the head and body until Nakai postured for an armbar. West scrambled, but Nakai wound up on top. The exhausted fighters were stood up and West landed a solid combination. She stuffed a takedown and used a guillotine choke to take top position on the ground. West punched until the final bell, as Nakai’s husband shouted from her corner.
After three competitive rounds, the judges were split in their verdict. One scored the fight in favour of Nakai, while a second scored it for West. The third judge ruled the bout even for a Split Draw. The result must be considered an upset, of sorts, as Nakai entered the bout as a heavy favourite.
Result: Split Draw (29-28 [Nakai], 29-28 [West], 29-29) after three rounds. Nakai moves to 10-0-1, while West is now 3-2-1.
Interview courtesy of Robert Sargent