Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mika Nagano set to Retire

Continuing on with a stream of retirements, Jewels poster girl Mika Nagano will be retiring at Deep Jewels 3. She will be taking part in an exhibition match followed by a retirement ceremony. This comes as a big loss to Deep Jewels and WMMA in Japan. Nagano was one of the promotions bigger draws and did quite a bit of promotional work. The fighter who was originally know for her wrestling and armbar finishes, has shown evolution in her recent fights. Her striking and ground and pound looked much improved recently. It is yet to be known why she is retiring and if she will continue with her pro wrestling. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kamikaze Angel Comes State-Side

The news has been broken that long-time veteran of the Japanese MMA scene, Emi Fujino, will be making her foreign debut with WSOF. Shigeru Saeki, in charge of Deep Jewels, stated that Fujino has signed a 4 fight contract with WSOF and will make her debut sometime in March. Fujino will still be a part of Deep Jewels and will be their female representative in WSOF.

Emi Fujino released the following statement:
I have received a multiple fight contract from WSOF. I am planned to make my debut in March. It has been a dream of mine for a long time to fight outside of Japan. I would like to thank those who have supported me up to getting this contract! Next year, it will be 10 years since my pro-debut. I will show my strongly built skills. Please continue to support me.

Emi Fujino is very unique for a Japanese fighter. That is one of the reasons that it will be interesting to see her fight abroad. Fujino is a physically strong fighter who sticks to basic techniques. She is the strongest Japanese Strawweight and she also cuts weight before her fights. Both of these will give her an advantage that a lot of Japanese fighters lack when they fight outside of Japan. In addition to these advantages, Fujino is a tough in your face kind of fighter who tends to wear her opponents out. Her signing to the WSOF is both good news.

Here is an interview that I did with Fujino in 2012

Rena Wins by TKO: Shoot Boxing Results

Shoot Boxing's Oikawa Retirement Event went down on Monday, The Emperor's Birthday. As expected, Rena made quick work of her late replacement opponent. At 2:40 of the 1st RD, Kim Yuri's corner threw in the towel, giving Rena the TKO victory. Oikawa Dojo went a respectable 4-2 on the card.


Hiruaki Otsuki def. Tomohiro Oikawa via UD (3-0)

Nagulanchun Martha def. Choi Sang Kyung via UD (3-0)

Rena def. Kim Yuri via TKO (Towel Thrown In)

Yuki Sakamoto def. Masatoshi Hyakutake via UD (3-0)

Kouji Ikegami def. Suehiro Tomoaki via UD after Extension RD

Tapplon Forcegym def. Shinsuke Hirai via UD (3-0)

Mio def. Kira Chihiro via MD (2-0)

Yoshitomi Mishima def. Masahiro Shimada via UD (3-0)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rena's Opponent Changed!

Queen of the Ring
For the 2nd time in as many fights, Rena's opponent has been changed at the last second. Her new opponent is Kim Yuri and the reason for the change is unknown. Kim Yuri is a Korean Women's Muay Thai Champion, with a record of 6-4 as of June 2013. This will not be her first time fighting under Shoot Boxing rules as she faced off against Ai Takahashi last June, losing via front choke in the 1st. It is tough to say how much Yuri has improved since her loss, but it seems safe to say that the 21 year old will most likely be a fish out of water when she is in the ring with Rena. It will be interesting to hear what happened to the previous opponent, a match that should be remade if possible.

Yuri getting front choked by Ai Takahashi

WSOF Expands Women's Divisions

When Ashlee Evans-Smith finished the controversial fighter Fallon Fox, it seemed pretty obvious that she was going to be sought after by a major promotion. It was announced today that the 2-0 fighter was signed to the WSOF. She will also be dropping down to 135. With the amount of media attention she received following her victory over Fox, this seems like a wise investment by the WSOF. 

With an upcoming inaugural Strawweight Championship match featuring Jessica Aguilar (#1) and Alida Gray (#10), WSOF appears to be committed to developing women's divisions. The cautionary tale though, would be that of Bellator. Bellator had significant female talent in their roster, but long lay-offs between fights and being buried in the under-card caused the divisions to wither, leading to the release of all female fighters from the Bellator roster. With 5 of the top 10 Strawweights competing on TUF next year, WSOF will have their work cut out for them if they want to succeed. They will not only have to scoop up any unsigned top-talent, they will also have to develop talent of their own. 

With the unofficial signing of Emi Fujino and the official signing of Ashlee Evans-Smith, the WSOF has picked up a veteran/perennial top-10 fighter and a young up and comer coming off of a big win. If the divisions are going to grow, they need to keep signing quality fighters and give them quality opponents. With the UFC shining the spot-light on the 115 division next year, and with Invicta FC's 115 division almost being entirely absorbed into the UFC, the WSOF could move into a position where they have the best 115 division outside that of the UFC.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rena to face Lee Jiwaen

Tomohiro Oikawa and Rena
(Photo by Kingo Arita)
Rena's opponent for the upcoming Shoot Boxing event on the 23rd has been announced. She is to face off against Lee Jiwaen. The fight will take place under Shoot Boxing rules with 3x3minute rounds and extension rounds in case of a draw. This will be Rena's 4th fight this year and one would imagine that she is very motivated going into this fight. The event will not only be in her hometown of Osaka, but it is also a retirement event for her coach Tomohiro Oikawa.

Having battled through several injuries and frustrations, Rena has now won 7 fights in a row. Those 7 include the likes of Seo Hee Ham, Erika Kamimura, Mei Yamaguchi and Lorena Klijn. With her level of Shoot Boxing experience and re-found confidence, Rena is the clear favorite going into this fight.

Her opponent going into the fight is the Korean Muay Thai Champion Lee Jiwaen. The winner of the Korean J-Girls tournament in 2010 when she was 15, Jiwaen holds an impressive record of 16-1. Known in for Korea for possessing a deadly high kick, Jiwaen has stated that she wants to take part in next years Girl's S-Cup and in order to do that she must crush Rena. This will not be the Korean's first time fighting in Japan as she has fought for J-Girls in Japan.

In order for Jiwaen to win this fight, there are two clear paths to victory. She must either adapt to the Shoot Boxing rules or attempt to turn the fight into a Kickboxing match. With over 20 professional Shoot Boxing fights under Rena's belt, it would seem wiser to turn the fight into a Kickboxing affair. That is not to say that Rena is a poor Kickboxer, quite the contrary but that the playing field would be more level.

With Jiwaen fighting for a chance to compete in the Girl's S-Cup and Rena fighting at the retirement event of her teacher, this looks to be an action filled fight. It will be interesting to see if Jiwaen can land these kicks that she has grown a reputation for and if Rena will be able to take advantage of her Shoot Boxing Experience. 

Shoot Boxing: Oikawa's Retirement Event

On December 23rd, Shoot Boxing will be holding a special event in Osaka for the retirement of Tomohiro Oikawa (27-13). Having not competed in over two years, the former Champion has become well known as one of the top Shoot Boxing trainers. Oikawa Dojo is home to past and present Champions, such as Nagulanchun Martha (Former SB Featherweight Champion), Rena (3 time Girl's S-Cup Champion and Former Rise Queen), Mio (2 time JKS-48 Champion) and Tatsuya Ando (WMF Lightweight Champion). As a matter of fact, there will be six fighters from Oikawa Dojo fighting on the card.

Full Card

Tomohiro Oikawa 
(Former SB Super Featherweight Champion)
Hiruaki Otsuki
(Former WPKC Muay Thai and All Japan Lightweight Champion)

Nagulanchun Martha
(Former SB Featherweight Champion)
Choi Sang Kyung
(Korean Muay Thai Featherweight Champion)

(3 time Girl's S-Cup Champion, Former Rise Queen)
Lee Jiwaen
(Korean Muay Thai Flyweight Champion)

Yuki Sakamoto
(SB Super Welterweight Champion)
Masatoshi Hyakutake

Kouji Ikegami
(Deep Kick 60KG Champion)
Suehiro Tomoaki

Shinsuke Hirai
Tapplon Forcegym
(Former WMC Muay Thai Featherweight Champion)

(2 time JKS-48 Champion)
Kira Chihiro
(J-Girls 2013 Atomweight Tournament Champion)

Yoshitomi Mishima
Masahiro Shimada

Takahiro Miyano
Takayoshi Kitayama

Kohei Fujiwara
(KOS Featherweight Champion)
Being Adjusted


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kikuyo Ishikawa Retires

Kikuyo Ishikawa (9-4) the number 6 ranked Atomweight in the world, has retired from the sport of Martial Arts. The fighter announced her retirement on her blog earlier this week. At the age of 29, Ishikawa was a rising star on the Japanese MMA scene. Career accomplishments include making it to the finals of the Jewels Atomweight Tournament. She lost to Sugiyama by Split-Decision. Later on in her career, she was promoted by Pancrase. Born in Okinawa she was placed on several Okinawa cards and the promotion put some effort into building her up. Her final fight was against Amber Brown, which she lost via Armbar. Her retirement is a loss to the Japanese MMA scene as she was one of the few fighters who evolved with the sport. Outside of the ring, she trained with several fighters including Celine Haga, who completely turned her career around, and Roxanne Modaferri.

Ishikawa's retirement follows a stream of women retiring in 2013. Megumi Fujii, Hitomi Akano, Hiroko Yamanaka, Julie Kedzie and now Ishikawa have walked away from competition.

The fighter also announced on her blog that she is married and pregnant. I would like to thank her for all that she has done in the sport and wish her the best in the future and with her family!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Even though, I was disappointed with DEEP's choice to put Sugiyama on their last card, DEEP is beginning to put more women's matches on their normal DEEP cards. Former Valkyrie/Jewels Match-Maker Yasuko Mogi (3-9) will be facing off against Tomo Maesawa (1-3). While it is good that DEEP is putting women's matches onto their normal cards, this is not the talent that they should be showcasing. The WMMA fights on the DEEP cards should create interest in the DEEP JEWELS cards, almost like advertising if you will. When you are advertising you want to show your best or highlight your product.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Sugiyama?

Courtesy of Sherdog

Last night, I stayed up an watched the DEEP Show. Besides watching some entertaining fights, I came away with one thought. Why Sugiyama? This is not meant as a personal attack but why has DEEP chosen to promote her above all of the other available women already on their roster? This is a roster that has Ayaka Hamasaki, Mizuki Inoue and Hee Seo Ham all of whom are in the top 10 of their divisions.

Since her return to MMA, Sugiyama has compiled a 4-0-1 record. So you may be asking why I'm questioning their choice of poster girl?

Chisa Yonezawa 1-6
Sung Eun Kim 0-2
Yurika Nakakura 2-1*
Megumi Yabushita 19-22
Jin Yun Kim 0-0-1*

*made their debut against Sugiyama

Since her return, she has never faced an opponent that had a positive record. I don't know if the UFC adding 135 and TUF showcasing some of the younger talent, has affected me but Sugiyama looked terrible last night. It all looked sloppy, she had to take time-outs to put her pony-tail back in and she was pushed around the entire last round. If it had been a 3 round fight, she stood a good chance of losing.

Even though I don't like the idea of building a division around one woman, it has worked for DEEP before. They were able to create stars in both Miku Matsumoto and Satoko Shinashi. The problem they have always had is spreading the interest onto other fighters and creating other stars. When Miku and Satoko stepped away from the sport, women's MMA essentially became non-existent in DEEP. I mean they still have both of them listed as champions on their webpage.

I'm not a complete idiot. I know that the primary reason the Sugiyama is promoted is because she attractive. That is the same thing that Jewels tried to do with Mika Nagano (they went under). The problem is that Sugiyama, at this point, has shown that she isn't really able to back it up. She dominates against sub-par opponents but wilts under pressure. I would much rather have up and comers or legitimate talent fill these slots on the DEEP cards. If you want people to come to a DEEP JEWELS card, put Mizuki on the DEEP card. Put someone on who will stand out in the crowds memory.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Megumi Fujii Blog Post

The Following is an excerpt from Megumi Fujii's Blog


"Seichou Special Needs School"
I went and volunteered at the Special Needs School,Siechou Special Needs School. I've worked a part-time job at an establishment for the autistic before. Because of that a former college teacher of mine, Nakashima-sensei, has invited me to this school several times.

4 years ago, I gave a Judo lecture there. People with mental disabilities, physical disabilities and autism attended. 8 years ago, Nakashima-sensei had been teaching Judo to these people, who aren't self-reliant, and he went to an academic conference and announced that he will be starting an association which he has now done for a long time both enthusiastically and sincerely.

Siechou looks like it is the only school in Japan where these people can go and take something like Judo lessons. Abroad there are a great number. It looks like a lot in Norway and Sweden. In Japan, a child with cerebral palsy has been learning the Judo art of falling safely for four years (of course there is support and aid) it also looks like they have learned to walk. You can exercise through running or with a ball, but to put on a Judo Gi and push, pull, grip, pin and fall with your opponent…these things stimulate your mind and your body and they have very good results. 

In reality, if you come here you can see someone do a beautiful Osotogari (Judo Leg Throw) or a Taiotoshi (body throw). Plus there are many smiling faces.

In the beginning, there were many pupils who would take longer than 20 minutes to put on their Gis, now most of them can put on their Gis with their own hands in 5 minutes and also put their belts on. I think it is an amazing thing.These are things that are tied together with being able to go out into society or ones daily living at home. Nakashima-sensei has tied teaching Judo to these people with teaching them self-reliance, he wants more Special Needs schools to start including Judo lessons.

One more thing I'd like to say, Siechou Special Needs School is the only place like this in Japan, these people can't take Judo lessons anywhere else. Naturally one with a teacher's training is needed and it can take time. 

In Judo you win or you lose, but it is not only a sport, through Martial Arts one makes one's way (of proper conduct/ morals). One forges their spirit  and learns how to live a better live in society, it is to their advantage to to have a place to study, 

What does Judo have, I spent a day yet again thinking about the relationship between sports and man and their true meaning.

I have gone down the path of martial arts and experienced it, what is called the 5 human senses, through the martial arts path I have opened my whole body and have had a clear experience.

Real 100%, I have experienced more than that, anyone can experience that, when I remember this, I think it is because of the Martial Art Judo.

I want to impart it to these little kids and wake something that is sleeping in them, I think about this often. What is the best way to show them. It is not good to end the conversation/discussion here.

At any rate, in one day my Sensei has truly left a deep impression and created a big response in me. At the same time, the day before yesterday at the World Economic Forum it got around that of the world's 136 countries, Japan was 105th,i it was shocking. This is related to society and sports, they are tied together. 

I think about Nakashima-Sensei from the old days, I would like his vision to branch out.

He is my father's friend.
Always truly, thank you very much.

I look forward to the day that I can meet you again.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fight Land: Ryuto Sawada

The following is a video from a series called Fight Land. It follows Ryuto Sawada, a young fighter who is going into his 2nd career fight at VTJ 3. Also fighting at VTJ 3, is his teacher, Megumi Fujii. The 17 year old has been training with her and Hiroyuki Abe at AACC since he was a small child and it is fitting that his career is taking off on the same card that her's is finishing on. If you are a fan of Japanese MMA and or Megumi Fujii, this video is a must see.

Even though Megumi is retired, it is obvious that her legacy will live on through the children she has trained.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 16th, Shoot Boxing Ground Zero

1. Shinsuke Hirai vs Kazuki Tamagawa (3mx3R)

2. Rudo vs Uma (3mx3R)
(S-Cup Reserve Match)

3. Ai Takahashi vs Miyo Yoshida (3mx3R)

4. Hiroaki Suzuki vs Mohan Dragon (3mx3R)

5. Yuki vs Seiji Takahashi (3mx3R)

6. Michihiro Omigawa vs Yukihiro Komiya (3mx3R)

7. Masaya vs Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura (3mx3R)

8. Hinata Watanabe vs Josh Jauncey (3mx3R)

9. Bovy Sor Audomsom vs Kuniyoshi Hironaka (3mx3R)

10. Rena vs Mary Won Pomas (3mx3R)

11. Match 1 Winner vs Match 2 Winner (3mx3R)

12. Match 3 Winner vs Match 4 Winner (3mx3R)

13. Toby Imada vs Hiroyuki Takaya (MMA Rules, 5mx3R)

14. Hiroki Shishido vs Yuichiro Nagashima (3mx3R)

15. Andy Souwer vs Steve Muxon (3mx3R)

16. Match 11 Winner vs Match 12 Winner

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rena to face WPMF Champion

Shoot Boxing Poster Girl, Rena's opponent has been announced. She will be facing off against WPMF Flyweight Champion Phetyordying Sith Archan Supoj from Thailand. This announcement adds to an already fairly stacked Shoot Boxing card. In my opinion, Muay Thai and MMA fighters make the easiest transition to Shoot Boxing rules. The clinching won't be a new aspect to the Thai Champion, but she will have to be wary of submissions. If Supoj wants to win, she will have to adapt a similar game plan to that which Buakaw used to win the S-Cup. Throw kicks from the outside and tie your opponent up in the clinch to cause a break. That being said, Rena should be able to win this match. She has been on a hot streak recently and her experience with the rules and the sport give her a massive advantage. Over the years she has developed a solid left hook to the body and likes to go for the standing triangle choke in the later rounds. 

Rena by Decision (with 1 Shoot point)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mei Yamaguchi: Veteran and Pioneer

When people speak of fighters words like "veteran", "pioneer" and "legend" are often thrown around. They are thrown around liberally and this has devalued the terms in my opinion. They aren't titles that are self-given. They are taken with action. A BJJ student who started MMA because the reporters were ignoring the BJJ fighters, "V.V" Mei Yamaguchi has earned them. The titles of both "Veteran" and "Pioneer". 

The Pioneer

Before Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche became the first women to fight in the UFC, Mei Yamaguchi cleared the path for women in both VTJ and Pancrase. Mei faced off against Megumi Fujii in VTJ to become the first women to compete for the organization. They also took home fight of the night honors. Before VTJ, Mei took part in the first women's main event for Pancrase, defeating "Windy" by MD. 

Outside of MMA, Mei took place in the 1st Girl's S-Cup for Shoot Boxing. The Girl's S-Cup is now one of the biggest women's combat events in all of Japan. The one day tournament has seen and created numerous stars. Mei has become a regular for the organization and has made it to the finals in 2 of her 4 tournament appearances. In working with her success, her exciting slams have made her a fan favorite.

The Veteran

With a record of 11-6-1, Mei has faced tough opponents her entire career. To those that follow Japanese MMA, it is actually quite impressive. Mei has fought Emi Tomimatsu (2x's), Emi Fujino (2x's), Yuka Tsuji (2x's), Saori Ishioka, "Windy", Megumi Fujii, Ham Seo Hee and Mika Nagano. As far as MMA goes, the only fighter left for her to face at this point is Mizuki Inoue. Throw in her Shoot Boxing record and she's faced Rena (2x's) and Miku Matsumoto in a grappling match. Needless to say, Mei has time and time again entered the ring/cage against the best opponents available to her. This makes it all the more impressive that she has never been finished.

With women in MMA becoming more and more popular, the future has never looked brighter. Reaching the prime of her career, Mei has expressed a desire to move down to 105. The idea of Mei fighting at 105 is very exciting. More often than not, she has had to overcome size and strength advantages in her fights at 115, so watching her fight an even fight at 105 would not only be exciting but also refreshing. With women's MMA soaring to new heights, I for one hope to see many more good fights out of Mei.

Here is a highlight of "V.V"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Shoot Boxing: Ground Zero

Shoot Boxing will be holding "Ground Zero" on November 16th. The event will include a 65kg S-cup tournament, an MMA fight and some single Shoot Boxing matches. Not all of the matches and opponents have been decided but this is what we know so far.

65kg Tournament
Hiroaki Suzuki 
(SB 62.5kg  Champion)
Masaya Matsubana 
(SB 65kg Champion)
(RISE 63kg Champion)
Mohan Dragon
Yukihiro Komiya
Seiji Takahashi
Michihiro Omigawa
Akiyo "Wicky" Nishiura
Bovy Sor Audomsorn
MMA Rule
Toby Imada vs Hiroyuki Takaya

One Match
Hinata Watanabe vs Josh Jones

Kuniyoshi Hironaka vs Bovy Sor Audomsorn

Ai Takahashi vs Miyo Yoshida

On the Card

Hiroki Shishido

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emi Fujino: Deep Jewels 2

The following is a translation of Emi Fujino's Blog

I lost by decision.

I'd like to apologize to those who supported me.

Also, I'm really grateful to those that have always supported me.

My teachers and those that give me power, Taiyo, Tsuda, and V, it was reassuring to have you all there. 
And, GODS, where I started training, everyone at the Dojo, everyone who came to the venue, everyone who sent me messages, and the staff, always always thank you.

I'm sorry that I could't get the result I wanted.

I did everything that I was able to do and lost.

I really enjoyed the fight.

More than a fight won, I always get more praise and wonder in a fight lost.

But losing is losing.

Substance is important, but results are also important.

My goal has disappeared, I am still not sure what I will do next.

When I was thinking about this, my 5 year old nephew called me. 
" You lost? Then you should do it again"
I was comforted by a 5 year old child.

The reply was unexpected and simple.
This time, I was able to represent the fighters and give the greeting.
 I do not think that Women's MMA in Japan is too bright right now. This is the responsibility of us fighters. I think that we all take pride in going up into that ring, to fight up there is a blessing. Regardless of your career, because we all love MMA, we must continue to fight with that feeling. 
Please continue supporting us.
Picture courtesy of Lady Go!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Deep Jewels 2 Weigh-Ins and Comments

Deep Jewels will be having their second event this Monday. The event will host the first round of the four person 115 Tournament. In the tournament Emi Fujino will be facing off against Mizuki Inoue and Mika Nagano will fight Emi Tomimatsu. Also on the card is a 105 Title Fight between Seo Hee Ham and Sadae. 
Below I have posted pre-fight comments and weigh-in videos.

Emi Fujino:
"In my last fight, I narrowly got the submission and won but I wasn't able to do what I wanted to do, when I reflect on it was like I wasn't able to do anything. Mizuki is very technical and alone at the top of this division, this time, now matter who the opponent, I am going to do what I want and only what I want. It will be a match where I will do as I will."

Mizuki Inoue:
"Previously, I participated in a grappling match, that match helped me realize that I still have a long way to go in that department. I feel like I want to take a very assertive and aggressive approach to this fight. In MMA, I recently fought for Invicta. Being able to win there has given me confidence, and I think I am in a good flow, I still have energy, I want to win this match as well.This will be the first time I face Fujino in a MMA match. I think that she's the type who likes to exchange blows and is very physically strong, I I don't feel like losing so I will avoid those situations. I am going to make use of what I am good at and fight with all my power!!"

Mika Nagano:
"When I think about my last fight, I wasn't as assertive with my strikes as I could have been. I wasn't able to do the things that I was taught in practice. This tournament's match, that I was able to participate in this tournament makes me really happy. My first opponent is Tomimatsu, she is good on the ground and is a strong fighter, she is very scary. This time, I want a striking match.

I want to demonstrate everything that I've been taught up till now.Whether it's on the feet or the ground I want to win! I want to aim for the "arm cross rainbow" (Her signature Armbar) I have everyone's support so I will be in perfect form!!  So I want everyone to go home feeling great so I'm going to do my best!!!"

Emi Tomimatsu:
"I am really thankful that I was able to enter this Deep Jewels Lightweight Tournament. It is a strange feeling to be in a position to get the belt, but if I get the chance I will take it! Previously, I think that I lost to Nagano by a narrow margin. In that match, I had some bad areas, even I know that. This time, without fail, I will win and excite the crowd, I will have a fight that will show the power of Japanese Women's MMA!"

And the weigh-in videos 
The videos were taken by NEXT STAGE

Mika Nagano, Emi Tomimatsu, Mizuki Inoue

Emi Fujino

Champion Seo Hee Ham

Challenger Sadae

Former Champion Naho Sugiyama

Masako Yoshida