Pancrase 278 Fight Forecast

Pancrase 278 takes place Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m. EST and can be seen live on UFC Fight Pass. The event features a former Sengoku champion, a former Dream champion, a former WEC title challenger and the #2 ranked strawweight.

Hatsu Hioki’s long road to redemption
In some ways it is hard to believe that Hioki is almost 10 years removed from his peak ranking. Then again, his run in the UFC explains it quite well. In 2011, he joined the UFC having won 14 of his last 16 bouts. However, in the Octagon, he went only 3-5 with wins coming over George Roop, Bart Palaszewski and Ivan Menjivar. He made his Pancrase debut this past January and got back on the winning track with a first-round submission over Kyosuke Yokoyama.

At this level, Hioki really should dominate. His grappling game from the top is still tops in the division, and he is still only 32 years old. On this card, he faces Yojiro Uchimura. After coming up in the ZST organization, he has taken some steps up in competition with mixed results. Uchimura’s most notable performance to date is a draw with former Sengoku champion and Bellator veteran Marlon Sandro in 2013.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Yojiro Uchimura Fight Matrix Ranking Points

Mitsuhisa Sunabe loses top ranking without loss
After dropping down to Pancrase’s 120-pound division in 2008, Sunabe has gone undefeated against fighters not named Kiyotaka Shimizu. He finally made the move all the way down to strawweight and has continued to dominate. It looked like he would have a stranglehold on the #1 Fight Matrix ranking in the strawweight division. However, Yoshitaka Naito jumped him for the top spot after defeated Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke for the ONE Championship title.

Sunabe will face Ryo Hatta. The 24-year-old has spent his entire career up to this point in ZST. He takes a major step up in competition after suffering his first loss 15 months ago.

Above average fight for Pancrase
This is a fight that could easily be on a UFC undercard. Malegarie was released by the UFC after only one fight. He still holds an impressive 22-4 record and some impressive wins. Takaya was the last Dream featherweight champion and has wins over Hideo Tokoro, Hioki and current ONE Championship bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes.

Hiromitsu Miura comeback trail continues
From 2007-2009, Miura went 2-3 in the WEC and had a rather impressive showing against then-champion Carlos Condit. The Japanese fighter then left the sport of MMA to focus on boxing. During his time away from the cage, Miura went 9-1 with four knockouts as a boxer. Last year he returned to MMA and has picked up a pair of wins over Toshikazu Suzuki and Yuta Nakamura.

Keinosuke Yoshinaga makes his Pancrase debut
For the uninitiated, former Rings boss and kakutogi legend Akira Maeda promoted an event called The Outsider. The promotion was, as Chris Nelson described, “delinquent-centric.” Yoshinaga, a tattoo artist and motorcycle goon, was one of the brand’s early stars. He makes his Pancrase debut here against WEC veteran Akitoshi Tamura, who will likely have a sizable advantage on the ground.

Fight Forecast
Fight Forecast is a recurring series at StrikeScore that provides a stats based preview of upcoming events. The following uses Fight Matrix rankings, peak rank, Tapology user votes, betting odds and Rankings Momentum.

In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 7/1/2014 to 4/1/2016. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. Tapology scores are also as of June 10 at 2:45 p.m. EST.

Fighter must be ranked for at least 4 quarters during ranking period for Rankings Momentum

Fighter must be ranked for at least 4 quarters during ranking period for Rankings Momentum