Frank “The Crank” Camacho endured Japan’s Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura, earning a win via split decision in the semi-main event in PXC 42 last Friday at the University of Guam Fieldhouse.
Camacho wisely went for a standup fight in the deciding third round and landed solid punches on Nakamura’s body and face, convincing two of the three judges to give their nod to the former.
With the victory, Camacho improved his win-loss record to 12-2, while Nakamura dropped to a 27-6 slate.
The 24-year-old Camacho, in an email to Saipan Tribune, said his strategy against Nakamura was really to bring the fight out of the floor, as the Japanese has a good reputation in wresting, grappling, and jiu jitsu. The 29-year-old fighter, according to Trench Tech’s Cuki Alvarez, who watched the Nakamura-Camacho tussle, submits most of his opponents to rear-naked choke.
However, Camacho was surprised to see Nakamura exchanging jobs with him in the opening round. The Japanese paid the price for his gamble, as Camacho shook him with a right cross. The Team Lloyd Irvin standout went for follow-up punches, hoping to punish Nakamura more, but the latter got out of trouble and started employing his trademark grapping and wrestling tactics on Camacho.
Camacho managed to stand up on each occasion that Nakamura pinned him down and worked on some kicks to his foe’s body. Camacho continued the standup fight in the closing seconds to win Round 1, but he was also on the receiving end of some blows, including a left straight that opened a bloody cut on his left eyebrow.
Gaining momentum from his last-second hit on Camacho, Nakamura became more aggressive in the second round and this time stuck to his original game plan—bring the 155-lb bout to the ground. However, Camacho stayed strong on defense and almost always managed to get out of Nakamura’s hold.
“He took me down once and I worked my way back to my feet and later in the round as I was landing my heavy shots, uppercuts, hooks, jabs, and straights, he ended up taking me down again halfway and was working his signature rear naked choke. I defended properly and worked my way back up to my feet and tried to finish the round strong by kicking him to the body,” Camacho said.
Despite Camacho’s late charge, Nakamura managed to prevail in Round 2, so the two fighters went to the third round even. The bout remained pretty close in the opening minute of the third and last round as Camacho connected on a few more punches, while Nakamura tried pinning him down anew. Then midway in the round, Camacho went all out, going for a string of strikes and egging Nakamura on to counter punch. Nakamura ended up backpedalling, trying to avoid Camacho’s flurry of punches in the closing seconds.
“In the third round it was clear I was trying to keep the fight on my feet and K-Taro trying to take the fight to the ground. I was landing my strikes as he was persistent trying to get the takedown. I defended every takedown with all my ability and tried to work the stand-up game. In the last 30 seconds, I kind of lost it and went into Crank mode. I don’t know what happened but I was in the zone and wanted to finish the fight, so I just started yelling. It was a great fight,” Camacho said.
The tough win was a morale-boosting one for Camacho after he missed PXC 41 in the Philippines in November. He was supposed to challenge Seung Hwan “Macho” Bang for the PXC lightweight title belt, but pulled out from the bout the last minute because he got sick.
“Not being able to fight in the Philippines definitely motivated me. I had to pick my head back up and get back to working hard,” Camacho said.
The UFC 16 participant resumed training early this year and attended a fight camp at Alliance MMA in San Diego to prepare for PXC 42.
“Thanks to Isla Energy, Docomo Pacific, and Fokai Industries I was able to afford to go to San Diego to do a fight camp at Alliance MMA, with UFC fighters such as Brandon Vera, Phil Davis, Dominick Cruz, Jeremy Stephens, Norman Parke, and Myles Jury to name a few. The training was world class and it was what I needed to win against a caliber fighter in K-Taro,” Camacho said.
Asked if he expected his bout against K-Taro going into the third round, the lightweight fighter said he did not, but he was ready for any possibility.
“I was not expecting the fight to go the distance, however, I always train as if I will. I’m a finisher.
I love finishing my opponents and I don’t like putting my fate on the hands of the judges. He was a very experienced and tough opponent so if we had to go the distance, I trained and was prepared for that. I was composed before, during, and after the bout. I was very collective and methodical with my techniques,” he added.