Fighting Imanari is like stepping into quicksand, except quicksand never tried to rip anyone’s leg off or inflict mind rape through eye contact alone. I have learnt that Imanari doesn’t show boat, he just walks into boxing range, with his hands by his side like some perverse mockery of fear. You could say that Imanari laughs in the face of danger, except you can’t, because Imanari doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t smile. And when he actually does (an exceedingly rare occurrence), I imagine it is because he knows in his mind the 10 different ways he will twist your leg off like a jumbo sized buffalo wing, glazed with anguish and basted with pain.
The fearsome Imanari-san strides menacingly to the cage. (via Ivan Yap)
I had predicted in a previous post a leg lock submission victory by Imanari against BJJ World Champion Leandro Issa at ONE FC 4 and was looking forward to what would (should) have been a mind blowing grappling showdown. Unfortunately, the king of leglocks did not attempt a single leg attack, and chose to spend his fight time floating just out of range and coming in only to pull off spinning back fists which never quite made significant damage to his opponent.
But something must have connected because at the end of Round 1, a visible swell appeared under Issa’s right eye. All Imanari had on his face was the same disconcertingly calm demeanour he had from the get go. Even when Issa took him to the ground and started whaling on him from within the guard, Imanari maintained that same expression- no panting, no open mouthed breathing, hell, no expression, period.
Maybe it was superior conditioning, but whatever the hell it was, Imanari went 3 rounds with a BJJ World Champion, looking like he was thinking about what he had for lunch. He did show more life whenever taken down, throwing 12-6 elbows to his opponent from within the guard but overall Imanari fought effortlessly, and not in the best way.
I am seriously puzzled, Imanari was the fighter I really wanted to see and win (and still do), and with 25 victories he should have fared better than a loss via Unanimous Decision. That said, Leandro Issa is one fighter to watch. The winner of both the Mundials and the Brazilian Nationals has no problem on the ground and proved he was no slouch in stand up either. With more ONE FC fights to be scheduled later this year, with the next one happening in Manila on 31st August, I’m hoping to see a rematch. In the meantime, it remains to be seen what’s up next for the ‘Ashikan Judan’ Imanari. As always, I’ll be looking forward to it.