Monday, April 11, 2011

Does Maximo Blanco's Pancrase departure confirm Bellator deal? revealed earlier today that the Lightweight King of Pancrase Maximo Blanco has left the long-standing Japanese promotion, vacating his title in the process. The Venezuelan wrestler had not defended his title in nearly two years. Since then, Blanco competed under Sengoku's now defunct World Victory Road banner, in which he collected five of six victories in his current win streak.

According to Sherdog, a statement by Blanco claims injuries are to blame for his non-participation with Pancrase:

"In a prepared statement, the 27-year-old Yoshida Dojo prospect cited his inability to defend his belt due to numerous injuries as the reason for his abdication."

Yet, only a month ago rumors began to swirl that Maximo Blanco had signed with Bellator. In fact, a interview shows Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney expressing his interest in Blanco.

"Now that Sengoku has been releasing an enormous amount of their staple fighters, Maximo Blanco is vying for a slot in an American MMA organization and last week it was rumored that Bellator signed the 'Venezuelan Vindicator' (I made that up). We asked Bjorn Rebney if he was signed with the organization and he admitted that he has been looking at Blanco, but nothing has been inked yet."

If Maximo Blanco is in fact searching for a home promotion in the U.S., it is very possible that his voluntary dethroning as the 154 lb. King of Pancrase is a move to severe all ties with the JMMA scene.

If that U.S. based promotion should be Bellator, then we could see Blanco follow the path of another WVR standout, former Sengoku Featherweight Champion Marlon Sandro, who in February signed on with the promotion.

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Meanwhile, back in Japan, Pancrase is setting up a special lightweight grand prix event. NightmareofBattle has it covered:

"Pancrase have been stepping it up recently and with their announcement today they are going even further.

An 8-man Lightweight GP will start at the May 3rd event.

The participants are…

Sakaguchi Dojo’s golden up-and-comer ISAO.

MMA veteran and loyal ZST fighter Naoyuki Kotani.

Massive Lightweight and 24 year old finisher from Paraestra Hachioji Kazuki Tokudome.

2008 Shooto Welterweight Rookie-Of-The-Year Tournament runner-up Hibiki Tamura.

2nd generation Lightweight & Welterweight King Of Pancrase Katsuya Inoue.

Fighter with a lot of potential AB.

24 year old awesome grappler Kota Okazawa.

The master of close fights Tomoyoshi Iwamiya.

This is awesome. All fighters are good. Don’t be too fooled by Iwamiya’s record. He’s drawn with two of the other GP participants since moving down to Lightweight and at Welterweight he defeated Strasser Kiichi and Toryu and lost close fights to KTaro and Wada.

Possibly more info to follow this post."

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