Just a few months back, Pancrase strawweight title-holder Viviane Araujo (7-1) jumped up two divisions to make a short-notice UFC bantamweight debut. Despite the size discrepancy, Araujo was successful, knocking out Talita Bernardo viciously in the third and final round.
It was clear on that night that Araujo’s stint in the UFC may last a long, long time. This means that Pancrase will need a new strawweight champion, and the organization has announced its plans for said title.
Late Wednesday night, the promotion sent out a press release confirming that they will hold a four-woman tournament to crown a new champion.
Though the entire field has not been announced, two participants have been confirmed to be fighting at Pancrase 308 on September 29.
One half of the first-ever strawweight title fight Pancrase put on, of course losing to inaugural champ Araujo, the veteran Emi Fujino (23-11, 1NC) will get another shot at glory if she successfully runs through this tournament. “The Kamikaze Angel” has defeated an impressive list of female pioneers, including Mei Yamaguchi, Amber Brown, and Mika Nagano.
The second fighter confirmed for the championship tournament was Nori Date (3-3) of Team DATE. The 20-year-old has already fought a few of the sport’s elite. Namely Fujino and Mizuki Inoue.
Though it has not been made official by the promotion, it seems as though the likely direction for these two will be to fight eachother. This would, of course, be a rematch. Fujino dominated enroute to a unanimous decision win over Date in 2015.
Unrelated to the tournament, Pancrase 308 will also feature a big flyweight match-up as Toru Ogawa (11-7) takes on Riley Dutro (13-5) of Hawaii.