'Notorious' Nansen vs Satoshi Ishii - MMA Super Fight at K-1 World Max Final
With his trademark skull bandana wrapped menacingly round his face, Antz "Notorious" Nansen is a name that inspires respect, if not nervous caution, in the Muay Thai/kickboxing ring. The Auckland fighter from ETK Gym has won some of the toughest belts in New Zealand, and holds a 19 wins-one loss pro kickboxing record that is enough to make serious fighters think twice about tangling with the hard-hitting veteran. Among those titles are the NZ WKBF Super Heavyweight Title (Full Thai), the NZ WKBF Heavyweight Title and the NZ WKBF Super Cruiserweight Title. But Nansen is moving on to even bigger things these days; specifically, the K-1 WorldMax 2010 -70kg World Championship Tournament Final in Tokyo on Monday night.
Having already made a stunning debut on the Pro MMA circuit in Japan last year - by winning his first-ever MMA fight against 2004 Olympic Judo Silver Medalist, Hiroshi Izumo - "Notorious" Nansen is now returning for a tougher, longer and more exciting battle. This time it's a gold medalist in Judo that he'll be up against; and an MMA fighter that has already proven himself on NZ shores.
"Satoshi Ishii's a Judo gold medalist and a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu, and he's been training in Hawaii in stand-up," says Nansen with fire in his belly, "it'll be a good fight. In fact, I think it's the first MMA fight there's ever been on a K-1 show in Japan, so it's quite exciting for me. It's probably the biggest fight I've ever had."
Ishii (I-DASH, Japan) took down NZ fighter Tafa "Thumper" Misipati with consummate groundwork at this year's Xplosion event, and will likely be aiming to execute a similar manoeuvre when he stands opposite Nansen at the K-1 WorldMax Super Fight in Tokyo on Monday. However, Nansen has a "good game plan" to deal with the fighter, and is confident he can make this fight work for him in front of the capacity crowd (around 20,000 people) that will fill the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
Fighting DREAM Rules in the free weight match-up means that round one will last 10 minutes and round two five, leaving a lot of room for both knockout punches and punishing submissions to be performed. Being somewhat new to the MMA game, and with a record of one win and one loss in pro MMA, Nansen has been training a lot for both situations.
"I had my last kickboxing fight about three weeks ago, at the "Art of War" in Auckland, so I've been training ever since," he says confidently. "And then the last two weeks I've picked it up to three training sessions a day - two of them consisting of Jiu Jitsu - so it's been full-on. I've only taken the fight on two weeks notice as well."
Not much time for any fighter to prepare, but if Nansen's impressive record is anything to go by, the experienced pro kickboxer, boxer and MMA fighter will do more than just stand his own in the ring. He may even get the notoriously conservative Japanese crowds on their feet.
Having already had the New Zealand fans on their feet for years, Nansen is certainly ready to head for the challenges of the Japanese fighting scene. "I believe in cleaning up your own backyard before you venture out and try to take on the world. That was my goal for the last two years: to be number one in NZ before I went on." And with the help of coaches like Jason Suttie and Roger Earp; sponsors like Tenga, Illicit and Psycho Style wear; and Will from Heart Clinic in Newmarket, the Auckland-based fighter looks set to be number one in Japan as well, before too long.