Masakazu Imanari: A Master of Leglocks in MMA

Masakazu Imanari, born on February 10, 1976, is a renowned Japanese mixed martial artist and submission wrestler. His career in professional combat sports began in 2000, and he has since become a veteran of numerous prestigious organizations, including ONE Championship, DEEP, ZST, Pancrase, PRIDE Fighting Championships, and Cage Rage.

Early Life and Introduction to Martial Arts

Imanari’s journey into martial arts began under challenging circumstances. As a child, he suffered from a spinal condition that required three surgeries, leaving him almost immobile. Despite these early obstacles, Imanari discovered combat sports at the age of 18. This marked the beginning of his journey into the world of martial arts, a path that would lead him to become one of the most respected figures in the sport.

Career Highlights and Signature Moves

Imanari’s career is marked by numerous achievements. He was the final Cage Rage Featherweight Champion, DEEP Bantamweight Champion, two-time DEEP Featherweight Champion, and DREAM Japan Grand Prix Finalist. His success in submission wrestling is also noteworthy, with two runner-up placements at the All-Japan Combat Wrestling Championship.

Imanari is particularly known for his proficiency in leglocks, earning him the nickname “Ashikan Judan,” which translates to “The Master of Leglocks.” His signature move, the “Imanari roll,” is a testament to his innovative approach to grappling. This maneuver, which involves a rolling motion to secure a leglock, has become a staple in the repertoire of many modern grapplers.

Legacy and Impact

Imanari’s impact on the world of mixed martial arts extends beyond his personal achievements. His innovative grappling techniques, particularly his focus on leg entanglements, have influenced the strategies of many modern fighters. His influence can be seen in the success of the Danaher Death Squad, a team known for their exploitation of leg entanglements, and in the fighting style of Ryan Hall, a UFC fighter who has won eight consecutive fights.

Imanari’s career is a testament to the power of innovation and perseverance. Despite his early health challenges, he has carved out a successful career in a highly competitive field. His unique approach to grappling has left an indelible mark on the sport, influencing a new generation of fighters and ensuring his legacy in the world of mixed martial arts.


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