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|Born||February 10, 1976|
Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan
|Other names||"Ashikan Judan", "The Leglock Yokai"|
|Height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Weight||145.1 lb (65.8 kg; 10.36 st)|
|Fighting out of||Tokyo, Japan|
Nippon Top Team
|Rank||A-level Shoot wrestler|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Masakazu Imanari (今成正和, Imanari Masakazu, born 10 February 1976) is a Japanese former professional wrestler and current mixed martial artist currently competing in the Featherweight division of ONE Championship. A professional competitor since 2000, he is a veteran of DEEP, ZST, Pancrase, PRIDE Fighting Championships, and Cage Rage. Imanari also has had a successful career in Combat Wrestling, placing as high as third and second in their All-Japan championship tournaments. He was in the final Cage Rage Featherweight Champion, DEEP Bantamweight Champion, two-time DEEP Featherweight Champion and DREAM Japan Grand Prix Finalist.
Mixed martial arts career
After a childhood marked by a spinal condition which required surgery three times, Masakazu had his first contact with combat sports at age 18, training kickboxing and Catch wrestling at the Fujiwara Dojo by Satoru Sayama's mediation. He later moved to Antonio Inoki's Universal Fighting-Arts Organization, and then Kingdom Ehrgeiz, where he trained Shoot fighting (a fighting style based on Catch wrestling) and MMA with Hidetada Irie before doing his amateur debut.
Imanari gained popularity during his mixed martial arts career in Japanese promotion ZST fighting the likes of top Lightweights including Dokonjonosuke Mishima, Jorge Gurgel and Marcus Aurélio despite being a much smaller Featherweight. He defeated Gurgel, who is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt former UFC fighter via Catch wrestling staple submission (heel hook) while being a lighter in weight. Imanari also defeated former Cage Warriors Featherweight Champion Danny Batten. In the first round Batten took Imanari down on the ropes but Imanari attempted a triangle choke. Batten escaped it but Imanari then transitioned to an armbar causing Batten to submit in just over 40 seconds.
Imanari moved on to compete in DEEP where he defeated a top WEC contender and the former WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown via submission (heel hook) where Brown's leg became dislocated. Imanari now a top contender in DEEP went on to compete for the title shot against Yoshiro Maeda in which he defeated Maeda via submission (toe hold) to become the new DEEP Featherweight Champion. Imanari made his first KO victory in his first defense for the belt against Takeshi Yamazaki with an up kick.
His next fight, which was his first fight outside Japan, was in London, England where he became the Cage Rage World Featherweight Champion by defeating Robbie Olivier with a flying armbar at Cage Rage 20. This accomplishment made him the only mixed martial artist in the Featherweight division to hold belts in two separate major promotions (DEEP and Cage Rage). He defended his Cage Rage belt for the first time against Jean Silva, winning by reverse heel hook in the first round, injuring Silva's knee in the process.
DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix
Imanari was a participant in the Dream Featherweight (63 kg / 138 lb) Grand Prix and won his first-round matchup against Atsushi Yamamoto by split decision at DREAM 7 but lost to current DREAM Featherweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes by unanimous decision at DREAM 9.
DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix
In 2011 Imanari returned to DREAM to take part in the DREAM Bantamweight Japan Tournament. He won his first two tournament fights in a single night defeating both Keisuke Fujiwara and Kenji Osawa at Dream: Fight for Japan!. The tournament finals took place at Dream: Japan GP Final where Imanari faced off with Hideo Tokoro. Tokoro defeated Imanari to win the tournament, the second-place finish gained Imanari entrance into the Bantamweight Grand Prix. Imanari faced Abel Cullum in the opening round of the Bantamweight Grand Prix at Dream 17 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Sept. 24. He won the bout via submission in the third round. In the semifinal round at Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011, Imanari lost to Antonio Banuelos via split decision.
ONE Fighting Championship
On January 31, 2012 it was announced that Imanari would be fighting for ONE Fighting Championship, who have a partnership with DREAM which allows both organizations to share fighters. He faced unbeaten URCC Flyweight Champion Kevin Belingon at ONE Fighting Championship 3 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on March 31. He won the fight via submission in the first round.
Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix 2021
Imanari left Catch wrestling based team Paraestra in 2008 and founded Nippon Top Team with Shinya Aoki and Satoru Kitaoka. However, Aoki left for Evolve MMA of Singapore, whereas Kitaoka joined Lotus Paraestra, Setagaya branch of Paraestra. Consequently, Imanari became a member of Team Roken.
Imanari is an A-level Shoot wrestler (better known as Catch wrestling in the west) under Yuki Nakai. He was later also presented a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by Marco Barbosa of Barbosa jiu-jitsu.
Imanari is primarily a grappler, and is universally known for his skill and preference for leglocks, which gained him the nickname of "Ashikan Judan" ("The Great Master of Leg Submissions"). Though his striking game is considered inferior, Imanari often engages in stand-up battles in order to bait the opponent to the ground, usually by dropping down after or while seizing control of his leg or by way of ashi garami. He stands out for his dexterity in toehold and heel hook variations, and is an avid user of the 50/50 guard in order to transition between submission attempts. He describes his signature leglock style as not based in sambo as it is popularly believed, but "purely self-taught", and explained his preference for it as "because it hurts the opponent".
The "Imanari Roll" (rolling from a stand up position into a leglock) and the "Imanari Choke" (a combination of an omoplata and a rear naked choke) are grappling moves named after him due to his usage of them.
Championships and accomplishments
- Cage Rage
- Cage Rage World Featherweight Championship (One time, first, last)
- One Successful Title Defense
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|59 matches||38 wins||19 losses|
|Loss||38–19–2||Yuta Nezu||Decision (unanimous)||Road to One 3: Tokyo Fight Night||September 10, 2020||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||38–18–2||Kwon Won Il||Submission (heel hook)||ONE Championship: Call to Greatness||February 22, 2019||1||0:53||Bangkok, Thailand|
|Win||37–18–2||Radeem Rahman||Submission (armbar)||ONE Championship: Pursuit of Greatness||October 26, 2018||1||1:23||Yangon, Myanmar|
|Loss||36–18–2||Dae Hwan Kim||Decision (unanimous)||ONE Championship: Heroes of Honor||April 20, 2018||3||5:00||Manila, Philippines|
|Loss||36–17–2||Yusup Saadulaev||Decision (unanimous)||ONE Championship: Kings of Courage||January 20, 2018||3||5:00||Jakarta, Indonesia|
|Win||36–16–2||Juri Ohara||Submission (leglock)||DEEP 78 Impact: Welterweight GP 2nd Round||March 18, 2017||1||0:23||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||35–16–2||Tatsunao Nagakura||Decision (split)||DEEP Cage Impact 2016: DEEP vs. WSOF-GC||December 17, 2016||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||34–16–2||Yoshihiko Shinzato||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP: Cage Impact 2016||October 18, 2016||1||0:32||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||33–16–2||Jae Eun Byeon||Decision (Majority)||DEEP: 77 Impact||August 27, 2016||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||33–15–2||Nam Phan||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP Cage Impact 2016||April 23, 2016||1||0:35||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||32–15–2||Kazunori Yokota||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 74 Impact||December 20, 2015||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||32–14–2||Mun Hwan Yang||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP: Cage Impact 2015||August 29, 2015||1||0:21||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||31–14–2||Cristian Binda||Submission (armbar)||Venator FC: Guerrieri Italiani Finals||May 30, 2015||1||2:33||Bologna, Italy|
|Win||30–14–2||Daisuke Maku||Submission (armbar)||DEEP: Hachioji Chojin Matsuri||April 5, 2015||1||4:11||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||29–14–2||Kenichi Ito||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Grandslam MMA 2: Way of the Cage||February 8, 2015||2||4:06||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||28–14–2||Mizuto Hirota||TKO (punches)||DEEP: 69 Impact||October 26, 2014||2||1:38||Tokyo, Japan||Featherweight bout.|
|Win||28–13–2||Jung Park||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP: 68 Impact||August 23, 2014||1||0:22||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||27–13–2||Haruo Ochi||TKO (doctor stoppage)||DEEP: 67 Impact||June 22, 2014||2||0:51||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||27–12–2||Yuki Montoya||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 65 Impact||March 22, 2014||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||27–11–2||Kenichi Ito||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 61 Impact||February 16, 2013||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||26–11–2||Masahiro Oishi||Submission (toe hold)||DEEP: 59 Impact||August 18, 2012||1||1:01||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||25–11–2||Leandro Issa||Decision (unanimous)||ONE Fighting Championship: Destiny of Warriors||June 23, 2012||3||5:00||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|Win||25–10–2||Kevin Belingon||Submission (reverse heel hook)||ONE Fighting Championship: War of the Lions||March 31, 2012||1||1:18||Kallang, Singapore|
|Loss||24–10–2||Antonio Banuelos||Decision (split)||Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011||December 31, 2011||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||DREAM World Bantamweight Grand Prix Eliminator (Semifinal).|
|Win||24–9–2||Abel Cullum||Submission (armbar)||Dream 17||September 24, 2011||3||0:46||Saitama, Japan||DREAM World Bantamweight Grand Prix Eliminator (Opening Round).|
|Loss||23–9–2||Hideo Tokoro||Decision (unanimous)||DREAM: Japan GP Final||July 16, 2011||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||DREAM Bantamweight Tournament Final.|
|Win||23–8–2||Kenji Osawa||Submission (heel hook)||DREAM: Fight for Japan!||May 29, 2011||2||0:58||Saitama, Japan||DREAM Bantamweight Tournament Semifinal; vacates DEEP Bantamweight Championship.|
|Win||22–8–2||Keisuke Fujiwara||Decision (unanimous)||DREAM: Fight for Japan!||May 29, 2011||2||5:00||Saitama, Japan||DREAM Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal.|
|Loss||21–8–2||Hiroshi Nakamura||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 52 Impact||February 25, 2011||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||Non-title bout.|
|Win||21–7–2||Daiki Hata||Decision (majority)||DEEP: 50 Impact||October 24, 2010||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||Non-title bout.|
|Win||20–7–2||Tomoya Miyashita||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 49 Impact||August 27, 2010||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||Defended DEEP Bantamweight Championship.|
|Win||19–7–2||Isao Terada||Submission (armbar)||DEEP: 47 Impact||April 17, 2010||3||0:27||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||18–7–2||Justin Cruz||Submission (omoplata crossface)||DEEP: Cage Impact 2009||December 19, 2009||1||2:39||Tokyo, Japan||Catchweight (137 lbs) bout.|
|Win||17–7–2||Tomohiko Hori||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 43 Impact||August 23, 2009||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||Defended DEEP Bantamweight Championship.|
|Loss||16–7–2||Bibiano Fernandes||Decision (unanimous)||DREAM 9||May 26, 2009||2||5:00||Saitama, Japan||DREAM Featherweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.|
|Win||16–6–2||Atsushi Yamamoto||Decision (split)||DREAM 7||March 8, 2009||2||5:00||Saitama, Japan||Dream Featherweight Grand Prix Opening Round.|
|Win||15–6–2||Hiroshi Umemura||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP: 37 Impact||August 17, 2008||1||0:29||Tokyo, Japan||Won DEEP Bantamweight Championship.|
|Loss||14–6–2||Dokonjonosuke Mishima||Decision (majority)||DEEP: 35 Impact||May 19, 2008||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||Lost DEEP Featherweight Championship.|
|Win||14–5–2||Jean Silva||Submission (heel hook)||Cage Rage 25||March 8, 2008||1||2:30||London, England||Defended Cage Rage World Featherweight Championship.|
|Win||13–5–2||Hiroyuki Abe||Submission (toe hold)||DEEP: 32 Impact||October 9, 2007||3||4:32||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||12–5–2||Kim Jong-Man||Submission (armbar)||DEEP: 31 Impact||August 5, 2007||1||3:28||Tokyo, Japan||Defended DEEP Featherweight Championship.|
|Win||11–5–2||Robbie Olivier||Submission (armbar)||Cage Rage 20||February 10, 2007||1||0:27||London, England||Won Cage Rage World Featherweight Championship.|
|Win||10–5–2||Takeshi Yamazaki||KO (upkick)||DEEP: 26 Impact||October 10, 2006||3||1:49||Tokyo, Japan||Defended DEEP Featherweight Championship.|
|Loss||9–5–2||Fredson Paixão||Decision (majority)||DEEP: 25 Impact||August 4, 2006||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||9–4–2||Yoshiro Maeda||Submission (toe hold)||DEEP: 22 Impact||December 2, 2005||3||1:31||Tokyo, Japan||DEEP Featherweight Tournament Final; won DEEP Featherweight Championship.|
|Win||8–4–2||Mike Brown||Submission (rolling kneebar)||DEEP: 22 Impact||December 2, 2005||2||3:38||Tokyo, Japan||DEEP Featherweight Tournament Semifinal.|
|Win||7–4–2||Fábio Mello||Decision (unanimous)||DEEP: 21st Impact||October 28, 2005||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan||DEEP Featherweight Tournament Quarterfinal.|
|Loss||6–4–2||Joachim Hansen||KO (knee)||PRIDE Bushido 8||July 17, 2005||1||2:34||Nagoya, Japan||Lightweight bout.|
|Draw||6–3–2||Yoshiro Maeda||Draw (majority)||DEEP: 18th Impact||February 5, 2005||3||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||6–3–1||Renato Tavares||Submission (heel hook)||DEEP: 17th Impact||December 17, 2004||2||2:36||Nagoya, Japan||Return to Featherweight.|
|Loss||5–3–1||Luiz Firmino||Decision (unanimous)||PRIDE Bushido 5||October 14, 2004||2||5:00||Osaka, Japan|
|Loss||5–2–1||Marcus Aurélio||Decision (split)||Zst: Grand Prix Final Round||January 11, 2004||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||5–1–1||Jorge Gurgel||Submission (heel hook)||Zst: Grand Prix Opening Round||November 23, 2003||1||0:32||Tokyo, Japan|
|Loss||4–1–1||Dokonjonosuke Mishima||TKO (punches)||DEEP: 11th Impact||July 13, 2003||2||2:58||Osaka, Japan|
|Win||4–0–1||Danny Batten||Submission (armbar)||Zst: The Battlefield 3||June 1, 2003||1||0:43||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||3–0–1||Erikas Petraitis||Decision (unanimous)||Zst: The Battlefield 2||June 1, 2003||2||5:00||Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||2–0–1||Yuji Oba||Decision (majority)||Pancrase: 2002 Anniversary Show||September 29, 2002||2||5:00||Yokohama, Japan|
|Win||1–0–1||Tokusaburo Iwama||Submission (heel hook)||Premium Challenge||May 6, 2002||1||3:24||Tokyo, Japan|
|Draw||0–0–1||Ryoji Sai||Technical Draw||Titan Fighting Championship 1||September 29, 2000||1||1:29||Tokyo, Japan|
- "The Grappling Dummy: Masakazu Imanari". YouTube. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 2017-03-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Bantamweight Pairings Announced for Grand Prix at Dream 17". MMAWeekly.com. August 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Renato Sobral vs Melvin Manhoef to Headline ONE FC 3 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in March". Mmamania.com. 31 January 2012.
- "Yusuke Yachi faces Yuki Kawana at Rizin 29 | Asian MMA". AsianMMA. 2021-04-23. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
- Top BJJ Fighters in MMA today, BJJ Heroes
- Snowden, Jonathan. MMA Encyclopedia, ECW Press, 2010
- "Imanari gets another leg". Bloody Elbow. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2017-03-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Ashi Garami". Awesomejiujitsu.com. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 2017-03-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Interview: Imanari Loves Leg Locks 'Because It Hurts The Opponent', Says Belingon Can Be MMA's Manny Pacquiao". Bloody Elbow. 9 March 2012.
- "The Evolution Of The Imanari Roll In MMA & BJJ". FloGrappling.com. Retrieved 23 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Imanari roll to inside heel hook - Learn to Grapple". LearntoGrapple.com. 10 January 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "The 411 MMA Year-End Awards: Part Five – The Best Submissions of 2016". 411mania.com. Retrieved 23 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Sanchez, Josh (26 October 2016). "Mackenzie Dern already in talks with the UFC". CampusSports.net. Retrieved 23 February 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Professional MMA record for Masakazu Imanari from Sherdog
- Free instructional - Master of Leglocks by Masakazu Imanari Free online instructional by Masakazu Imanari