Even though I have no intention of making it a habit to review MMA events, since Syuri is one of my favorite wrestlers I felt it necessary to promote the fact she is a legitimate MMA fighter/badass as well. Syuri started as a kickboxer back in 2009 before joining Pancrase in early 2016 to start fighting professionally in MMA. This is Syuri’s fourth fight in the promotion, so far she 3-0 with one victory by TKO and two by Unanimous Decision.
Pancrase is one of the longest running MMA promotions in the world, having been founded in 1993. When it began, Pancrase had unique rules as the matches used a points-based system and the action took place in a ring, but today their rules are more in-line with the UFC and the matches take place in a cage. For years there were accusations that some Pancrase fights were ‘worked’, which turned out to be the case, however Pancrase has been a legitimate MMA promotion since at least the late 90s. The promotion started using the cage and modified their rules in 2012, after a change in ownership. Pancrase also uses a open-scoring system, meaning the judges announce who is winning after each round, which is very interesting as the fighters know where they stand. This card aired on UFC Fight Pass, making it readily available for fans of both MMA and Syuri in particular.
Event: Pancrase 284
Date: February 5th, 2017
Location: Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,711
Minna Grusander vs. Syuri Kondo
While live this match was in the middle of the card, when it was aired on Fight Pass it was presented as the main event. Based on experience level in MMA, this is a pretty even match-up, as Syuri came into the match 3-0 while Grusander was 2-0. Syuri had the edge in combat matches however due to her extensive kickboxing background, as she is 13-1 in kickboxing matches in her career. This is Grusander’s first fight in Pancrase and in Japan, as her first two professional fights were in Finland and Sweden.
They stay on their feet to start and exchange punches, with Syuri connecting with several solid shots. Syuri pins Grusander against the cage but the referee separates them after a moment, Syuri lands with a really hard punch as she is clearly winning the strike exchanges. Grusander’s nose starts bleeding as they continue trading punches with Syuri landing with far more accuracy. Grusander knees Syuri and pushes her against the cage as she goes for a takedown, but Syuri blocks it. They reach a stalemate so the referee separates them again, they trade punches the rest of the round with Syuri continuing to be the aggressor.
Round 1 clearly went to Syuri, which the judges agree with (remember, with “Open Scoring” they let us know who wins each round after it takes place). Syuri connected with a lot of clean shots to the face and she blocked Grusander’s lone takedown attempt. Syuri’s kickboxing background is showing as she has easily controlled the action when they remain on their feet.
Syuri continues tagging Grusander in the second round, Grusander tries to punch back but her punches are far less controlled and usually miss their mark. Grusander goes for a takedown but Syuri blocks it, Grusander gets Syuri against the cage but Syuri gets away and switches positions with her. They trade knees before backing off the cage, Grusander starts having a bit more success landing her punches but Syuri counters. Grusander pushes Syuri against the cage after Syuri connects with a few punches, Syuri quickly switches positions again before they release from the cage. We get a good look at Grusander’s bleeding face as they circle back into the center of the cage, with 20 seconds left Grusander finally connects with the takedown and punches Syuri cleanly a few times while Syuri gets back to her feet. The round ends while they are pushed against the cage.
Syuri controlled the bulk of this round, Grusander got in the takedown but Syuri still won the round. Even though both are throwing a lot of punches, Syuri’s punches are just so much more accurate and the damage is starting to show on Grusander’s face. Grusander did get a good takedown but it was too little, too late as up to that point it was a clear Syuri round. Syuri hasn’t been able to knock Grusander off her feet yet but the cumulative damage is starting to show.
With Syuri up two rounds, Grusander needs a knockout or submission here to get the win. Round 3 starts the same as the first two rounds, as for the first minute they trade punches in the middle of the ring. Grusander pushes Syuri against the cage but the referee forces them to separate, Syuri continues pressing forward even though she is ahead on the cards and she stuffs a Grusander takedown attempt. They trade positions against the cage, Syuri slides Grusander down to the mat (I hate to call it a takedown although it technically was) as the clock ticks down, Grusander goes for a choke but Syuri slides out of it and elbows Grusander as the round ends.
I love that in the last ten seconds, even though Syuri had won the fight at that point she was still throwing elbows and punches instead of just lying on Grusander until the bell rang. This was Syuri’s round, as she connected with more strikes and got a takedown as well. I had Syuri with all three rounds, and the judges agree.
Syuri Kondo wins by Unanimous Decision!
From early on this was clearly Syuri’s fight to lose as her strike game was just too much for the less experienced Grusander. Syuri is now 4-0 in Pancrase and has earned the right to start fighting more experienced fighters now that she is no longer a beginner herself. Syuri’s goal is to fight in the UFC, and while she isn’t there yet, her kickboxing skills make her dangerous and if she can continue to grow she may make it there down the road.