After a 21 month hiatus from the sport, Richie Vaculik will begin his MMA comeback at Pancrase 289.
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The former UFC flyweight will take on Japanese standout Nobuki Fujii at the event, which takes place August 20 in Tokyo, Japan.
“Vas” has been on the MMA sidelines since dropping a unanimous decision to Danny Martinez at UFC 193 in Melbourne. The loss moved his UFC record to 1-3 and he was subsequently released from the promotion.
The 34 year-old TUF Smashes veteran has stayed busy outside the cage since that landmark event and is better known in recent times for his co-anchor role alongside Elvis Sinosic on Fox’s UFC Fight Week show. Vaculik (10-4) will now move to the bantamweight division where he’ll look to get the ball rolling against Pancrase stalwart Fujii (15-8-3).
After a career-first three-fight slump in 2015/early 2016, Fujii bounced back in style winning three fights on the trot. The 27 year-old’s most recent victory came against Kosuke Terashima (13-13) at Pancrase 286 in April.
Vaculik is not the only Aussie scheduled to compete at Pancrase 289. The event will also feature the international debut of undefeated Melbourne based middleweight Mitch O’Dowd (4-0).
Like Vaculik, O’Dowd will be returning after an extended stint on the sidelines, having not fought since his first round submission of Francis Buangala at AFC 13 back in mid-2015. He’ll take on 27 year-old Hiroyuki Tetsuka who is 3-2 with all his fights coming under the Pancrase banner.