Rin Nakai Is the UFC’s Latest and Most Exciting Fighter

Fightland Blog

By Andreas Brauning

UFC Fight Night 52 is going down in Japan on the evening of September 20th, set against the backdrop of Saitama Arena, a monolithic structure perched in a city bearing the same name. The main event unleashes Roy “Big Country” Nelson against Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt, so obviously we are going to witness some damn big-fisted strikes. 

We know a Roy Nelson fight, we know a Mark Hunt fight, and they always satisfy. Big Country’s last knockout punch against Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira was insane, and Big Samoan’s last fight against Antonio “Big Foot” Silva was exciting, despite its tied-up finale. 

Fight Night at Saitama Arena brings another really exciting match-up. Miesha Tate, or Cupcake if you dare, is sweet—check out any interview and you’ll see. But she’s a killer. Pound-for-pound she’s a mean contender, and right now, she’s ranked third in the official UFC women’s bantamweight rankings. A Strikeforce-approved champ, Tate has a sturdy 14-5 MMA record and is fresh off a really exciting fight against Liz Carmouche last April, where a unanimous decision crowned her victor. 

But up next, Tate is set to face notorious Japanese MMA fighter Rin Nakai. Despite allegations of receiving unfair advantages, Nakai does hold an undefeated record, a fabric tainted only by a single draw out of 17 fights. Critics also go out of their way to point out the manner in which Pancrase presents her. There are videos of her on YouTube doing fetish muscle videos, cleaning in a revealing outfit, and other actions along those lines. Obviously, critics thus question the UFC’s choice to sign the Queen of Pancrase: Why are they bringing on board a fighter who does not necessarily fit the western audience’s taste? 

We don’t really care. We’re hyped!

PRIDE was a spectacle in the fighting world and Japanese culture absorbed it into its zeitgeist. While audiences were quiet and polite, entrances were extravagant and fighters were true characters, in the sense that they could have just as easily fought more epic fights in fantasy realms. There is plenty of room for style and character in Japan—more than here at least, where oftentimes theatrics are limited to some back-and-forth banter between fighters in the weeks leading up to a fight. Naturally, then, there’s plenty of room for style and character in the Japanese MMA world. Pop culture seems to shine a little brighter over there than over here. 

Over here, we are definitely more accustomed to a cleaner-cut version of the fighter, more branded, if you will. Regardless, you’ll see him or her on an ad campaign, or a film, or speaking on behalf of something. Think of that as being their muscle fetish videos. It’s all the same in the end. And again, nothing wrong with that, we just think it’s cool that the UFC signed Rin Nakai. Not only because she has a dope look and she’s got swagger we aren’t used to, but also because she’s a dominant fighter who will definitely give Miesha Tate a worthwhile challenge.


Check out these related stories:

Feel The Fight: Miesha Tate

Meditations on Miesha Tate

Defining Moment: The Women Are Here To Stay