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
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
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
|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|
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
|Tomohiro Oikawa and Rena|
(Photo by Kingo Arita)
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.
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.
(Former SB Super Featherweight Champion)
(Former WPKC Muay Thai and All Japan Lightweight Champion)
(Former SB Featherweight Champion)
Choi Sang Kyung
(Korean Muay Thai Featherweight Champion)
(3 time Girl's S-Cup Champion, Former Rise Queen)
(Korean Muay Thai Flyweight Champion)
(SB Super Welterweight Champion)
(Deep Kick 60KG Champion)
(Former WMC Muay Thai Featherweight Champion)
(2 time JKS-48 Champion)
(J-Girls 2013 Atomweight Tournament Champion)
(KOS Featherweight Champion)
Sunday, December 15, 2013
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!