Pancrase 20th Anniversary: The Good
On the 29th of September 2013, Pancrase held its 20 year anniversary. Well known for their hybrid wrestling rules in the early 90s, Pancrase today has evolved into full fledged MMA rules. Although Pancrase seems more like a stepping stone for fighters to get into high profile organizations such as UFC and One FC, it was a premiere organization with legends and pioneers such as Bas Rutten, Ken and Frank Shamrock, Guy Mezger, Masakatsu Funaki, and Maurice Smith. The state of combat sports in Japan has made it very difficult for any MMA organization to hold events with the size and attendance that Pride FC and K-1 once possessed. However there were qualities in the 20th anniversary event that gave the MMA world an idea of the direction Pancrase has taken from here on out for better or worse.
In this dark age of MMA in Japan, Pancrase has been able to hold consistent events. Pancrase switching to the new rules of MMA has placed the organization with the same standards of other premier leagues. MMA is the second most popular sport in the world, as well as Japan being a Mecca for it, and Pancrase has put itself in line to showcase the new breed of MMA fighters.
Recently, Pancrase has held events with a cage, yet the ring continues to be the standard for their main cards. The ring distinguishes them among other cage promotions and has played an enormous role on the evolution of Japanese MMA.
Pancrase has allowed room for interesting ring entrances by providing special entrance girls, a gloriously designed path to the ring, and fighter highlights when available. Memorable entrances give interest to relatively unknown fighters and it should be encouraged among its talent. An unknown fighter can quickly have the crowd hold interest for them if the entrance is more than just a walk and song. Pancrase live events separate themselves from the other promotions by having special ring entrances, its own theme music, cheesy ring girls, and the occasional mascot. All these elements give the audience members a genuine Japanese MMA experience.
Champions of Tomorrow
The big names of today are no longer a part of the Pancrase roster, yet Pancrase has been clever enough to promote their fight cards with fighters from well established fight teams. A name such as Felipe Olivieri is unknown to most audience members, but a match up with UFC’s featherweight champion and bantamweight champion’s fight team, Nova União, sparks an interest to a Pancrase fight card. As long as Pancrase continues to matchup Japanese fighters with foreign fighters from high caliber fight teams, the best fighters of tomorrow are fighting in Pancrase today.