2015 IMMAF Champion Minna Grusander Ready to ‘Dominate’ Japanese Star in Tokyo

Pictured above: Finland’s Minna Grusander defeated Italian Maria Colonna in the Strawweight final of the 2015 IMMAF World Amateur Championships.

Former IMMAF world strawweight champion Minna Grusander will make her way to the spiritual home of MMA next month as she takes on Japanese star Syuri Kondo in the main event of Pancrase 284 in Tokyo, Japan.

Founded in 1993, Pancrase stands as one of the oldest and most respected MMA promotions in the world and has played host to some of the sport’s greatest icons. For her third professional bout, Grusander makes history as the first Women’s IMMAF champion to headline a major card at the pro level.

“It’s a huge chance for me to get to fight in a big and legendary organization like Pancrase,” she told IMMAF.org. “I’ll be the first Finn to fight at Pancrase, even though there are Finns fighting in other big organizations like UFC and One FC and there’s been a few Finnish MMA legends fighting in Japan as well, like Sensei Sauli Heilimö and UFC-veteran Tom Niinimäki from our gym, Finnfighter’s Gym.” 

Success as an amateur under the banner of IMMAF has seen athletes transition to compete in professional organisations such as the UFC, Titan FC, Invicta and Bellator. Grusander adds to the legacy of what an IMMAF gold medal represents as a propellant to ‘shine brighter’ with valuable experience gained outside of the comfort zone, on the world’s most diverse international platform for future stars.

“I’m sure it’s working for my favor that I finished up my amateur career as an IMMAF World Champion, to shine a bit brighter among other fighters with just a few wins now as a pro.

“It’s great that I had experience fighting abroad already, as an amateur. All that travelling, time difference and missing home during fight preparation. It has given me some extra reliability in looking for fights abroad straight from the beginning of my pro career. It has eased my mind to basically fight anywhere and of course to have my sponsors and other supporters to continue with me following the IMMAF World Championships to my pro career. This enables my journey towards becoming the world champion as a pro as well!”

Already a national star in Japan, Kondo is a decorated competitor in her own right as a kickboxing champion of Krush, one of Japan’s leading K-1 shows, in addition to exploits as a pro wrestler. Now 3-0 and looking to make a statement in MMA, Kondo faces the approaching challenge of “Brutsku”. While both are 27-years-old and undefeated in the opening chapter of their MMA careers, each accomplished competitor presents a significant opportunity for the other to announce herself and make the world take note

Grusander added, “When an organization is ready to test and level up their local rising star, I’m sure they appreciate the challenger to be already somehow recognized in martial arts. We will face in the cage as two pro MMA fighters and that’s the execution that is going to matter. She’s a good fighter and this is going to be a good fight for me to level up as well.  It seems like they are ready to give her a challenge and I think this is a nice match-up from the promoter. I’m sure we will offer a great fight.”

“I’m ready to challenge her and eventually dominate the fight in any part of MMA”.

Following the culmination of her Tokyo venture, Grusander plans on returning home to Turku and remaining active within Finland’s national MMA scene.

“After a really silent Autumn in MMA here in my home town, there are now plans for several events for the upcoming Spring to be held here in Turku, so of course it would be great to get to fight in front of a home crowd as often as possible. Let’s see where I’m heading and who to challenge after that.”

By IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran

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