Masakazu Imanari

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Masakazu Imanari
Masakuze Imanari.jpg
Born (1976-02-10) February 10, 1976 (age 47)
Hadano, Kanagawa, Japan
Other names"Ashikan Judan", "The Leglock Yokai"
Height165 cm (5 ft 5 in)
Weight61 kg (134 lb; 9.6 st)
StyleMMA, Shooto, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Hybrid martial arts
Fighting out ofTokyo, Japan
Team Roken
Nippon Top Team
RankA-level Shoot wrestler
  Black Belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
Years active2000–present
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout1
By submission28
By decision10
By knockout4
By decision18
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Masakazu Imanari (Japanese: 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 Bantamweight division of Rizin Fighting Federation. A professional competitor since 2000, he is a veteran of ONE Championship, 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[edit]

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.[1] 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 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.

Cage Rage[edit]

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[edit]

Imanari was a participant in the Dream Featherweight (63 kg / 138 lb) Grand Prix[2] 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[edit]

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.[3] 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[edit]

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.[4] He won the fight via submission in the first round.

After over a year away from the sport, Imanari returned to face Yuta Nezu at Road to ONE 3: Tokyo Fight Night on September 10, 2020.[5] Imanari lost the fight by unanimous decision.

Rizin Fighting Federation[edit]

Imanari faced Kenta Takizawa in the opening round of the Bantamweight Grand Prix at Rizin 29 on May 30, 2021.[6] He lost the bout via unanimous decision.[7]

Imanari faced Takeshi Kasugai on October 10, 2021 at Rizin Landmark Vol.1.[8] He won the bout via armbar in the first round.[9]

Imanari faced Chihiro Suzuki at Rizin Landmark 4 on November 6, 2022. He lost the bout via unanimous decision.[10]

Professional grappling career[edit]

Imanari competed at Quintet Fight Night 5 on October 27, 2020 as one of the members of Team Tokoro plus a 2nd. He registered two draws at the event but his team won the tournament.[11]

He then faced Kenta Iwamoto in the main event of Battle Hazard 8 on November 22, 2020.[12] He lost the match by submission after Iwamoto caught him in an arm-triangle choke.[13]

Imanari competed against Mikey Musumeci in a submission grappling match at ONE 156 on April 22, 2022.[14] Musumeci submitted him with a rear-naked choke at 4:09 that earned a $50,000 'Performance Bonus'.[15]

Team allegiances[edit]

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.[16]

Fighting style[edit]

Imanari is primarily a grappler, and is universally known for his skill and preference for leglocks,[17] which gained him the nickname of "Ashikan Judan" ("The Great Master of Leg Submissions"). Though his striking game is considered inferior,[17][18] 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[18] or by way of ashi garami.[19] 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.[18] He describes his signature leglock style as not based in sambo as it is popularly believed, but "purely self-taught",[1] and explained his preference for it as "because it hurts the opponent".[20]

The "Imanari Roll"[21][22] (rolling from a stand up position into a leglock) and the "Imanari Choke"[23][24] (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[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
63 matches 39 wins 22 losses
By knockout 1 4
By submission 28 0
By decision 10 18
Draws 2
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 39–22–2 Chihiro Suzuki Decision (unanimous) Rizin Landmark 4 November 6, 2022 3 5:00 Nagoya, Japan
Loss 39–21–2 Takahiro Ashida Decision (unanimous) Deep: 109 Impact August 21, 2022 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 39–20–2 Takeshi Kasugai Submission (armbar) Rizin Landmark 1 October 2, 2021 1 2:50 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 38–20–2 Kenta Takizawa Decision (unanimous) Rizin 29 June 27, 2021 3 5:00 Osaka, Japan Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix 2021 Opening Round.
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: Call to Greatness February 22, 2019 1 0:53 Kallang, Singapore
Win 37–18–2 Radeem Rahman Submission (armbar) ONE: Pursuit of Greatness October 26, 2018 1 1:23 Yangon, Myanmar
Loss 36–18–2 Dae Hwan Kim Decision (unanimous) ONE: Heroes of Honor April 20, 2018 3 5:00 Manila, Philippines
Loss 36–17–2 Yusup Saadulaev Decision (unanimous) ONE: 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Grappling Dummy: Masakazu Imanari". YouTube. 18 May 2011. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Bantamweight Pairings Announced for Grand Prix at Dream 17". August 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  4. ^ "Renato Sobral vs Melvin Manhoef to Headline ONE FC 3 at Singapore Indoor Stadium in March". 31 January 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Yusuke Yachi faces Yuki Kawana at Rizin 29 | Asian MMA". AsianMMA. 2021-04-23. Retrieved 2021-04-23.
  7. ^ Staff (2021-06-26). "RIZIN 29 Full Results". Cageside Press. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  8. ^ "【RIZIN】瀧澤謙太に惜敗の"足関十段"今成正和が春日井"寒天"たけしと対戦=10・2新イベント「ランドマーク」開催". Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  9. ^ "【RIZIN】45歳の今成正和が5年ぶり勝利 「珍しくすっきり勝っちゃってうれしいです」(ENCOUNT)". Yahoo!ニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-10-03.
  10. ^ "【RIZIN】平本蓮が弥益ドミネーターを空手&ケージDFでドミネートし判定勝ち、鈴木千裕が今成越え、元谷が倉本と大激闘、SARAMIが魂のテイクダウンでラーラを下す、中村が征..." ゴング格闘技 - GONKAKU. Retrieved 2022-11-06.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Top BJJ Fighters in MMA today, BJJ Heroes
  17. ^ a b Snowden, Jonathan. MMA Encyclopedia, ECW Press, 2010
  18. ^ a b c "Imanari gets another leg". Bloody Elbow. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  19. ^ "Ashi Garami". 23 June 2015. Retrieved 2017-03-05.
  20. ^ "Interview: Imanari Loves Leg Locks 'Because It Hurts The Opponent', Says Belingon Can Be MMA's Manny Pacquiao". Bloody Elbow. 9 March 2012.
  21. ^ "The Evolution Of The Imanari Roll In MMA & BJJ". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Imanari roll to inside heel hook - Learn to Grapple". 10 January 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  23. ^ "The 411 MMA Year-End Awards: Part Five – The Best Submissions of 2016". Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  24. ^ Sanchez, Josh (26 October 2016). "Mackenzie Dern already in talks with the UFC". Retrieved 23 February 2017.

External links[edit]