The legendary mixed martial arts promotion Pancrase has joined the growing list of organizations to live-stream events on UFC FIGHT PASS, UFC Senior Vice President and FIGHT PASS General Manager Eric Winter told UFC.com.
“We are thrilled to announce an exclusive agreement with the historic Pancrase MMA organization to stream its live events, beginning with the October 4th show from Tokyo, Japan,” Winter said. “Pancrase has been putting on world-class, action-packed events since 1993, and are excited to present the preeminent Japanese MMA organization’s cards to our subscribers.”
The iconic Japanese organization joins Invicta FC, Titan FC, Shooto Brazil, EFN – and of course exclusive UFC FIGHT NIGHT events – as live and exclusive offerings on UFC FIGHT PASS.
The first Pancrase live stream, Pancrase 270, is headlined by a featherweight “King of Pancrase” (as the organization’s championships are called) bout where UFC veteran and reigning Pancrase king Nam Phan will defend against Ultimate Fighter alum Andy Main. Phan has won three of his four bouts since leaving the UFC in 2014 while Main is a vastly more improved fighter from the 21-year-old who appeared on The Ultimate Fighter five years ago.
The October 4 event will be followed by a live Pancrase card on October 31. There will be a further three Pancrase cards on FIGHT PASS before the end of 2015.
“We are excited to announce Pancrase will start streaming live and all of our fight archives will be available on UFC FIGHT PASS,” said Masakazu Sakai, CEO of Pancrase. “This is great honor for Pancrase to partner with UFC, as both organizations began in 1993 and continue to thrive.”
And Winter added: “In addition to live Pancrase events, we’ve already announced that UFC FIGHT PASS will also add the enormous Pancrase fight library to our already amazing archive. Within the next few weeks, subscribers will be able to enjoy hundreds of legendary Pancrase fights featuring the likes of UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten and Ken Shamrock, UFC champions Evan Tanner and Jose Aldo and Japanese icons including Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki.”
Debuting on September 21, 1993, Pancrase is one of the most historically important promotions in mixed martial arts history. Formed by wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, Pancrase was founded to be “pro-wrestling, only real” and would serve as a proving ground for some of the greatest fighters in the sport.
Although Pancrase adopted rules very similar to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts in March 2014, for much of its history Pancrase bouts took place in a boxing ring and featured a unique system of guidelines and scoring. Title fights were contested over a single 30-minute round, while non-title fights were contested over a single 15-minute stanza. Competitors fought without gloves, as no close-fist striking was allowed, and after a knockdown a “10- count” similar to those used in boxing was employed.
Another major difference between the Unified Rules and historical Pancrase bouts was the “rope break” – if a fighter could reach the ropes while in a submission, his opponent would have to let go of the hold and the bout would be restarted. Both fighters were then reset in a standing position, with the fighter who had used one of his five “rope escapes” now down one point.
UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten – perhaps the greatest King of Pancrase of all time – said he was excited fans around the world would get a chance to see this important aspect of MMA history.
Rutten told UFC.com: “If you look at the fighters who came through Pancrase, you’ll see just how important this organization has been to MMA. Fighters like myself, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Jose Aldo, Evan Tanner – all UFC champions – came from Pancrase. There are also some great fighters like Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki and Semmy Schilt who had amazing fights in Pancrase. I truly believe that Pancrase is one of the most important MMA organizations in history, enough though it used to be completely different to the UFC with different rules, different ring, different everything.
“I’m happy newer fans who’ve maybe never seen old Pancrase now get the chance to see it all. It is not just historical fights, but really exciting fights. Maybe they will check out some of my fights, and see that once, a long time ago, I was a badass!”