Jewels returned to Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan tonight for Jewels: “Seventh Ring,” which was headlined by a rematch between former Smackgirl champions Hiroko Yamanaka and Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano. Yamanaka avenged her only career loss by defeating Akano via competitive decision.
Elsewhere, Jewels postergirls Mika Nagano and Shizuka Sugiyama were both in action. Nagano bested one-time DEEP veteran Mai Ichii, while Sugiyama came up short in her bout with the always tough Miki Morifuji.
Hiroko Yamanaka vs Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano
In the night’s headlining bout, Hiroko Yamanaka defeated Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano by Split Decision after two 5:00 rounds. Yamanaka improves to 8-1-1 with the win. The fight was the only one on the card that permitted strikes to the face on the ground.
Yamanaka opened the fight strong with punching combinations that jolted Akano and prompted her to dive for takedowns. The much larger Yamanaka had little trouble defending and threw Akano into the corner, where she landed more strikes and remained in control. As she often does, Akano pulled guard and worked for armbars, but Yamanaka battered her with punches and hammerfists from the top.
The second round was more of the same, but Akano picked up the pace and continued to try for takedowns at all costs. Yamanaka punished her with hard punches and body kicks, which again resulted in Akano pulling guard. Akano attempted submissions from the bottom, but Yamanaka fought them off and stood up. Late in the round, Akano finally scored a takedown and tried to finish the fight with strikes, but time expired.
Mika Nagano vs Mai Ichii
The co-feature of the evening saw Mika Nagano defeat Mai Ichii by Unanimous Decision after two 5:00 rounds. Nagano improves to 6-2-0 with the win.
Nagano ran a submission clinic in the opening round as she took Ichii down and soon moved straight to mount. Ichii attempted a futile guillotine choke from the bottom, which met with no success whatsoever. Transitioning to back control, Nagano worked for a rear-naked choke and then a series of armbars. She was unable to secure a submission, but handily won the first round.
Ichii tried to sprawl to defend takedowns in the second round and managed to stay on her feet for a time, but Nagano’s wrestling took over and she powered Ichii to the mat. As in the first round, Nagano dominated the ground exchanges and threatened with a variety of submission attempts. To Ichii’s credit, she held strong, but came out on the wrong end of a lopsided decision.
Miki Morifuji vs Shizuka Sugiyama
In other featured action, Miki Morifuji defeated Shizuka Sugiyama by Unanimous Decision after two 5:00 rounds. Morifuji improves to 9-6-0 with the win.
Sugiyama had little interest in standing with Morifuji and pulled guard early in the opening round. She attempted submissions from her back, but Morifuji remained calm and scored with punches to the body. Morifuji nearly passed to mount, but Sugiyama scrambled and regained guard. The close first round came to an end with neither fighter holding a significant advantage.
Once again, Sugiyama tried to take the fight to the mat in round two, but Morifuji reversed her takedowns. The fight returned to the feet and Morifuji picked Sugiyama apart with crisp punches. Sugiyama secured a clinch and landed knees to the body, but it was not enough to steal back the fight. Sugiyama, touted as the future of Jewels, has dropped two of her last three fights, but is still young and has time to continue her improvement.
Hiroko Kitamura vs Celine Haga
A somewhat lopsided matchup ended with Hiroko Kitamura defeating Celine Haga by Technical Submission (Kimura) at 2:04 of round one. Kitamura improves to 4-0-0 with the win.
Kitamura came out throwing punches and overwhelmed the smaller Haga, prompting Haga to try to pull guard. Kitamura landed directly in mount and Haga was forced to immediately scramble. She tried for a kneebar and a toe hold from the bottom, but Kitamura evaded danger and locked on a Kimura from Haga’s guard. The referee sensed that Haga was in trouble and stopped the fight.
Miyoko Kusaka vs Kikuyo Ishikawa
The second fight of the night saw Miyoko Kusaka defeat Kikuyo Ishikawa by Split Decision after two 5:00 rounds. Kusaka improves to 1-1-0 with the win.
Ishiwaka opened the first round like a house of fire and immediately took the fight to Kusaka with wild strikes. She dove in for submission attempts, but Kusaka kept her distance. Sensing that she needed to change the direction of the fight, Kusaka took Ishikawa down and tried to control from the top, but Ishikawa scrambled and prevented Kusaka from doing anything. The razor-thin round came to a close.
Kusaka landed a barrage of knees early in the second round, at one point using the ropes to her advantage, and soon took the fight to the mat. Unlike in the opening stanza, she had little trouble in keeping Ishiwaka in place and worked from the top with strikes to the body. Kusaka was unable to secure a fight-ending submission, but did enough in the second round to earn a close decision.
Sakura Nomura vs Yuko Kagoshima
In the night’s opening bout, Sakura Nomura won her professional debut by defeating Yuko Kagoshima by Technical Submission (Armbar) at 4:35 of round two. Nomura improves to 1-0-0 with the win.
Cornered by Club Barbarian mentor Miku “Supernova” Matsumoto, Nomura put on an excellent performance in the first round. Controlling the grappling, Nomura attempted a guillotine choke in a scramble and Kagoshima was forced to hastily escape danger. The round came to a close with Nomura in complete control.
The second round was a better one for Kagoshima, as she rocked Nomura on the feet and got in her best strikes of the fight. Nomura recovered and scored a takedown, then worked to set up a submission from the top. Late in the round, Nomura locked on an armbar and the referee stopped the fight. Very impressive debut for Nomura.
While the size disparity may have factored into the outcome of the main event at Jewels: “Seventh Ring,” the event was another solid one for the promotion as it continues to develop new stars. Miku Matsumoto and Megumi Fujii were both on hand to promote their upcoming exhibition match, while 2009 Girls S-Cup Shootboxing Champion Rena engaged in a light-hearted practice bout with Seo Hee Ham. Jewels will return with “Eighth Ring” on May 23rd.
Special thanks to Tony Loiseleur from Sherdog.com for the live updates from Shinjuku FACE.
(Photo Credit: gbring.com)