Ahead of its Japanese debut on 31 March, ONE Championship has announced a landmark partnership with Pancrase.
Under the deal, all Pancrase champions will have the opportunity to compete with ONE, while athletes from its Neo-Blood Tournament can compete under the ONE Warrior Series banner.
The partnership comes just two months after a similar deal was made with Shooto. In addition, select amateur Pancrase fighters will receive the opportunity to train at Evolve MMA in Singapore.
A handful of Pancrase athletes have successfully crossed over to ONE Championship, including former flyweight champion Yuya Wakamatsu who will face former UFC champ Demetrious Johnson at ONE: A New Era on in Tokyo 31 March.
ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said after Shooto, ONE is excited to extend the same opportunity to Pancrase.
“We are fully committed to developing Japan’s martial arts ecosystem from the amateur up to the professional level,” he said.
“Our partnership with Pancrase once again marks the world’s top martial arts organizations coming together to create a new era of martial arts in Japan.”
Masakazu Sakai, president of Pancrase, added the deal would help to raise the profile of its athletes.
“We believe that this partnership is the start of a long-term relationship with ONE Championship,” Sakai said.
“We look forward to shaping the future of martial arts both in and outside Japan together.”
Pancrase was founded in 1993 by professional wrestlers Masakatsu Funaki and has gone on to hold more than 300 events.