Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ryuto Sawada wants Rizin

Photo Courtesy of eFight

It seems that after one event, Rizin is already having an effect on the local mma scene in Japan as top prospect Ryuto Sawata (6-2) addressed the crowd, following his 2nd round TKO victory;

"People call me elite, and it is because of their support that I can fight. Since I want to repay them by becoming champion, I will not give up until I become it. Also, I really want to fight for Rizin so I must do my best."

At the age of 20, Sawada, an AACC product, has the potential to become one of the top fighters in Japan. So far he has fought all of his fights for Shooto/VTJ and has addressed his intention to fight for the UFC.

Here is a piece covering Sawada and Fujii

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

With Tomimatsu-Chan

On Tuesday, I trained with Tomimatsu-chan!

It's important to have a female companion to train with.

Thank you!

That being said.
Tomimatsu-chan and I fought in 2007 for Smackgirl.


This year...
I've been fighting for 10 years

I just became aware of this. lol

Translation note, chan is a term of endearment as opposed to the form "san"

Saya Ito, 12 months 12 fights

On 3/21 I will be defending my WPMF Pinweight title for the first time, next March, when I graduate from high school, even if it sucks, I want to fight once a month.

I started training at 4,  I really want to culminate my Muay Thai life until I graduate, more than now, I want to challenge myself with Muay Thai after I graduate.

You can call me a pro, but I have the social status of a student so I'm not able to take long brakes from school. I'll be able to tailor my time better after I graduate, so I'll be able to train more and progress more than I can now.

I haven't fought outside of Japan or Thailand, so I want to fight in Europe, America, Australia, it's my dream to fight in many nations. I'll also be able to fight fighters from around the world for Muay Lock who is going to send out invitations.

After 3/21 is my spring break, so I'll fight then, after that in two weeks I'm going to fight in Thailand in April. In August, I've scheduled a fight in my hometown.

Last year, I lost to Sylvie, I lost to her power. At that time I experienced a big barrier, I turned my attention towards the West, from now on, this year, for the aim of stepping up to the next level, if I don't get injured I'm not going to quit, I want to challenge this unknown world.

Road FC 29

The date was changed to 3/19

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ham vs. Watanabe, the birth of Hamderlei

Ham makes her debut

With her fight coming up next month, I thought it would be interesting to look to Ham Seo Hee's first fight, which set her on a road making a South Korean import one of the most popular female fighters in Japan.

Ham's professional mma career, in my personal opinion, seems to have been the result of a Japanese miscalculation. Deep, as is common, was looking to build up Hisae Watanabe who had just knocked out Satoko Shinashi, then promotional poster-woman, in devastating fashion and the promotion wanted to shift their promotional efforts towards the new champion, so they flew in a little known kickboxer from Korea who was making her MMA debut. Watanabe was one of the biggest punchers in MMA history who didn't like to go to the ground, so it seemed perfect. However, Ham had other ideas. 

The Pre-Fight Interviews

Hisae Watanabe
Q: How is your condition?
Hisae: My condition is good. It is really good, but perhaps I should say I won't know until the fight.

Q: Are you in good form?
Hisae: My form is really good.

Q: What's your image of how the fight will play out?
Hisae: Even though I said I understand mixed martial arts, I'm a striker, and I really want to beat someone regarded as a striker. Even though I said I want to go forward and strike, my coach and others told me the other day to fight a mixed martial arts fight. Certainly its a mixed martial arts fight, this time my fight will be on a card with three title fights, if we do a kickboxing match, it might become a slow fight. Especially if I'm not able to knock her down. If I can move smoothly, I'll take her down, and get the submission if I can, I think the fans would be ok with that result. But as I've said before, you don't drink your vomit, by that I mean in relation to the fight, I feel like it will be a striking affair, but I'm not going to stick to that to my detriment. Naturally I want to be like I'm in training, I want to move naturally, and since I want to leave a big impact I'm not going to stick strictly to striking, I'm going to show my mma power. But I want to win by KO.

Q: If possible you want the KO?
Hisae: You say if possible, I saw absolutely.

Q: Its been a while since your last fight, any ring rust?
Hisae: Not at all. Even though I haven't fought in half a year, 2 months ago I felt like I wanted to fight. Since I had that feeling, I'm not worried about anything. But, the pressure's been building up!
My fight is before the title fights! I want to see them.

Q: What is your motivation?
Hisae: Yeah, my motivation, I was worrying about that but having fun is the best motivation, plus its not like taking the belt didn't increase my motivation.

Q: Whats your orignal point for tomorrow?
Hisae: I cut my hair short, it will probably look a little unkempt, I think I look invigorated and will be able to put on a good fight tomorrow. Even when I'm struggling I think my new haircut will invigorate people. I want people to look at that if I'm struggling lol.

Q: Will your parents be coming to the fight, what do they think?
Hisae: This time my opponent is Korean, my mom doesn't know this opponent, if she knows the fighter she'll tell me what to do and can tell me a lot, but since she doesn't know my opponent, she has simply told me to do my best.

Hisae: Ham Seo Hee is cuter than I expected, a little while ago when I saw her eyes when I she said hi to me, we both looked at each other and smiled, I think we both want to put on a good fight, I think it would be nice to win solidly, since my parents and people are coming the tension is building up so please cheer loudly, even it if is to heckle me. Yes. But I might give into pleace cheer, since that will fill my confidence. I'm also excited to see this inexperienced Ham Seo Hee. That's how I feel.

Ham Seo Hee
Q: What about your condition?
Ham: It's really good.

Q: I heard that striking is your strong point, are you going for the KO tomorrow?
Ham: I'm fine going forward aggressively from the get go, but I want to look at my opponent and control the fight. But I haven't got to fight her yet so I don't know, but I'm going to try my best to have a good fight with Hisae.

Q: Have you seen any of her fights?
Ham: I saw her fight with Satoko Shinashi.
Q: What did you think of it?
Ham: I had heard that she was a striker, but on the ground she went for an armbar, I think she is a good fighter.

Ham: I'd like to say to those coming to the fights, I'm going to do my best to put on a good fight, so please cheer.

The Weigh-Ins

Hisae Watanabe 107.8lbs  (48.9kg)
Ham Seo Hee 105.8lbs (48kg)
The Fight

Round 1

The southpaw, Ham, landed a variety of strikes, including an uncounted number of left hooks and knees from the clinch, tormenting Hisae. Hisae, who had hoped to face a striker, was at a disadvantage and in  the striking affair showed great heart.

Ham floored Watanabe

Round 2

Having taken a lot of damage, Hisae went straight for the takedown in the second and wound up on top, and brought the match to Ham's weakpoint, where she passed Ham's closed guard. After a break, Hisae countered with a front kick and right hook, but there was a big difference in damage dealt out,

Ham via UD (3-0)

Post Fight Interview

Q: What were your thoughts on the fight?
Ham: The Japanese level is high, I could feel the difference from South Korea in my body.
Q: What was it liked beating a strong opponent?
Ham: Being able to fight and win in Japan feels like a dream to me.

Q: Round 1 was striking and 2 was grappling.
Ham: I heard that Hisae likes to fight at a kickboxing pace, I thought I would win or lose standing, but I was shocked when she took me down in the 2nd, but my corner was able to give me instructions, so I was able to avoid any bad situations on the ground.

Q: Do you think you want to keep fighting in Japan?
Ham: I was called out by a Japanese organization, I will do my best to fight whenever I can.

Q: How did you get involved in MMA?
Ham: I started in kickboxing three years ago, but this was my MMA debut. Since I got the offer for this fight, I've been training in MMA for about 1 month. My boyfriend is a fighter so we trained together, I think we had good results in training. I started training in kickboxing because I wanted to enter the military. But then I became engrossed in kickboxing and it started to look like I wouldn't join the military. There are a lot of kickboxers like me in Korea, I think there are a lot better kickboxers than me.

Q: Do you know any Japanese fighers?
Ham: I know Windy.

Q: Is this the first time you've fought on a big stage like this?
Ham: Its the first big stage since my birth.

Q: Hisae stills holds the belt, do you want to challenge for it?
Ham: I want the belt too, even though I feel like I want to be champion, from now on I want to prepare for MMA more then challenge for the belt.

Q: Are there a lot of people who do kickboxing and MMA in Korea?
Ham: There are more who do kickboxing, there are no women's mma fights in Korea, there are about 2 or 3 women who do mma in Korea.

Q: You've got a nice left hand.
Ham: Well. I'm a southpaw so my left is my strong side.

Q: Who's picture is that in your chest?
Ham: My boyfriend's picture.


After defeating Watanabe in such exciting fashion, Ham became a staple of the Japanese scene and was fast tracked to big fights. In her first 6 fights she faced Watanabe, Miku, Yuka Tsuji, Megumi Fujii, and Saori Ishioka. Ham eventually went on to become the Deep and Deep Jewels champion before moving to the UFC.

Ham also had a successful kickboxing career in Japan where she faced off against Emi Fujino, Megumi Yabushita, Rena, and Erika Kamimura. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Saori Ishioka Profile

Courtesy of LadyGo!
Name: Saori Ishioka
Age: 28
Height: 5'2" (157.48cm)
Weight: 105 (48kg)
Record: 13-8
Notable Wins: Mika Nagano, Celine Haga, Tomomi Sunaba

The Shooting Star has been a staple of the Japanese MMA scene since her debut in 2007 and was one of Jewels's top drawing fighters, where she headlined 7 events. It looks like she will be resuming this leading role with Deep Jewels as she headlined Deep Jewels 6 and will be headlining Deep Jewels 11.

The Beginning
Saori started martial arts when she was young, competing in Judo from 4th grade all the way through high school, picking up kendo along the way. Her Judo career was highlighted by a 2nd place finish in the prefecture tournament and a trip to China.

At the age of 19, Saori moved to Tokyo, where the plan was to work a normal job and to live a normal life. However, there was a Karate dojo near her office and she missed the physicality of Judo so she started going to the dojo.

In 2007, Saori made her debut under the Smackgirl banner and subsequently became one of the faces of the Jewels promotion. During her time with these promotions, Saori fought some of the best fighters in Asia. This is reflected in her record, 12-7. On its face  not a great record, but those losses include Megumi Fujii, Yuka Tsuji, Ham Seo Hee and V.V. Mei.

In 2012, Saori got married and pregnant and stepped away from the sport. In her absence, Jewels ceased operations and was taken over by Deep, where Deep Jewels was formed.

The Return
On March 26th, 2014, Deep Jewels held a press conference to announce that Saori would be returning to the ring. After nearly two years, Saori was going to drop a weight class and fight Satomi Takano.

When she initially stepped away to get married and have a child, Saori had intended to return to the ring but that motivation had waned. When she stepped away from Jewels, Mika Nagano had told her not to worry, that she would take care of Jewels until Saori could come back and fight her, but it wasn't to be. Mika got married and wanted to retire to start a family. A retirement fight was scheduled and Saori was to be the opponent but it was abruptly canceled when it was discovered that Mika was pregnant.

With the promise of their match gone and having had her son, Saori debated retiring but ultimately decided to return. She had found new motivation. Saori would fight to help younger fighters, because without the veterans the promotion would fail. In addition, Saori wanted to show her son the results of hard work.

If Saori had ring rust, it didn't show as she finished Takano in the first round by armbar. Now, coming off of a loss to rival Ham Seo Hee, Saori hopes to rebound  with a victory over Emi Tomimatsu at Deep Jewels 11, where she will once again be headlining.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Invicta FC 16 Card Announced

The Invicta 16 fight card has been announced and it looks good. Newly crowned Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki will defend her title against Amber Brown. Amber Brown burst into the spotlight when she traveled to Japan and TKO'd Kikuyo Ishikaw. She hasn't lost since and her last two fights were especially dominant. 

The card is full of fan favorites and exciting fighters. The full card is listed below.
I will be writing more articles about the event as it approaches.

Atomweight Title: Ayaka Hamasaki (12-1) vs. Amber Brown (6-1)
Interim Flyweight Title: Vanessa Porto (18-6) vs. Jennifer Maia (12-4-1)
Strawweight: Alexa Grasso (7-0) vs. Stephanie Eggink (4-2)
Bantamweight: Irene Aldana (5-2) vs. Jessamyn Duke (3-3)
Flyweight: Roxanne Modafferi (18-12) vs. DeAnna Bennett (8-1)
Atomweight: Herica Tiburcio (9-2) vs. Jinh Yu Frey (4-1)
Flyweight: Sarah D’Alelio (8-6) vs. Andrea Lee (4-1)
Bantamweight: Kelly McGill (2-0) vs. Amberlynn Orr (0-0)
Strawweight: Ashley Greenway (0-0) vs. Sarah Click (0-0)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Saya Ito Interview

Photo Courtesy of Lady Go!
While I was in Japan, I had the opportunity to meet Saya Ito and watch her train for a little bit. Despite only being 16 years old, Saya has amassed an amateur record of 78-12-3 and a professional record of 10-2-1. She recently became the WPMF champion when she defeated Little Tiger by UD in September of 2015. The two are set to fight again on 3/21.

CJ: How did you get involved in martial arts?
Saya: My brothers did it! When I saw them doing it, I thought that I'd also like to do that! 
CJ: Are they still involved?
Saya: No, they stopped!

CJ: It seemed like Little Tiger did not want to fight you, like she was avoiding you. Did you think the same thing?
Saya: All I wanted was to fight Little Tiger!

CJ: You went to her press conference and called her out. Was that your idea? If so, why did you do it?
Saya: The idea was my coach's. I really wanted to fight Little Tiger, so that is why I did it!

CJ: How did you feel before the fight, were you confident you would win? Was there anything you practiced in particular?
Saya: I was confident. I just trained like I always do, but right before the fight I worked on what I thought I needed to work on.

CJ: What kind of opponent was Little Tiger?
Saya: She has a strong low kick. But she's only been fighting Thais, so she's gotten used to their rhythm. Because of that, I came forward!
CJ: You used a lot of elbows in the fight, is that a recent development?
Saya: Yes, recently. There was no special reason, I was training them so I used them!

CJ: You two will be fighting again. She lost to you, then lost to someone else. Coming off of two losses what do you expect?
Saya: Little Tiger is the one who said she wanted to fight again. So I imagine she must be training really hard.

CJ: You made it seem like there is a difference in Thai rhythm and Japanese rhythm, what's the difference?
Saya: If you only fight Thais, it's going to be difficult to switch to Japanese who come forward. I've had the same problem. That's why I really practiced coming forward and fought that way.

CJ: Don't you think that Japanese women don't really use the plum?
Saya: There aren't that many muay thai fighters in Japan. There are a lot more kickboxers, so they don't really use the plum that often.
CJ: Do you train it allot?
Saya: I don't really train it that much.

CJ: You've trained in Thailand before, how was that?
Saya: It was very intense training. But I remember all of the plum technique.
CJ: While you were there you got to train with some strong female fighters, what was that like?
Saya: In Japan I train with boys a lot so it was nice.

CJ: Ja will be fighting in Japan soon. Do you think you'll go see the fight? What do you think of the match?
Saya: On the same day a fighter from my gym has a fight at a different place, so I don't know if I'll be able to go and see it. I think she'll win. But there will be a weight difference and her opponent will come at her and may be able to overwhelm her.

CJ: Is there anyone you'd like to fight?
Saya: I'd like to fight a fighter from America or Europe. 
CJ: Would you like to fight in either of those places?
Saya: I want to, now the place I want to fight most is America.
Cj: Like Lion Fights for example?
Saya: YES!!
CJ: Haha, do you watch Lion Fights?
Saya: Occasionally

CJ: You became champ last year. Do you have any goals for this year?
Saya: I want to take the WMC title.
CJ: Is Little Tiger the WMC Champion?
Saya: I don' t know, it is probably someone else!
CJ: How often do you want to fight?
Saya: I'd like to fight once a month if I can!

CJ: Now for a fan question, if you could become another fighter, who would it be?
Saya: I'd be Rika (Throngkriasaen), because she is a fighter that I have a lot of respect for.
CJ: What was your reaction when you heard she is retiring?
Saya: I didn't really get to see that many of her fights but I would have liked to have gotten to see more.
CJ: Both Erika and Rika retired while they were still young, how long do you think you want to fight for?
Saya: Up through highschool I want to fight allot. Once I graduate from highschool I will have to think about whether or not I want to keep fighting so often or decrease the amount. I don't think I will continue for a long time.

"No elbows? No Knees? Don't Make Me Laugh"

I'd like to thank Saya for taking the time to answer my questions and for letting me come watch her train. Saya will be fighting Little Tiger in a rematch, where she will be defending her newly acquired WPMF title.