Valkyrie Featherweight Champion Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi earned a close and very competitive Majority Decision victory over promotional veteran “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba tonight at Pancrase Impressive Tour 3 in Tokyo, Japan. Scores were 20-20, 20-19 and 20-18 in the Fight of the Night bout.
Competing in Pancrase for the first time, and in the promotion’s first female main event, Yamaguchi controlled much of the opening round with punches and a takedown that led to strikes and submission attempts on the ground. Sunaba rallied in round two, but it was not quite enough to steal the win.
In her first bout back since turning freelance and dropping her long-time “V Hajime” moniker, Yamaguchi (7-2-1) impressed onlookers in the opening round by using one-two combinations to counter jabs from Sunaba (16-13-1). She looked to clinch to take the fight to the mat, but Sunaba stayed on her feet and Yamaguchi landed right hooks. She backed Sunaba into a corner and managed to take her down, then worked from the top with punches and passed to half-guard. Yamaguchi landed short left hands and took Sunaba’s back as Sunaba stood up. Yamaguchi then worked for both a rear-naked choke and an armbar before time expired.
The second round was a different story, however, as Sunaba scored with numerous knees to the face and body. After defending early takedown attempts from Yamaguchi, Sunaba landed a right cross and began to punish her opponent with the knees. She reversed a takedown and Yamaguchi wound up on the ground with Sunaba standing over her. Sunaba punched from the top, then backed Yamaguchi into a corner as the fighters stood. Sunaba landed another big knee and hard punches in the final minute, but the strikes were not enough and two judges awarded the action-packed bout to Yamaguchi.
Winner: Mei Yamaguchi by Majority Decision (20-20, 20-19, 20-18) after two 5:00 rounds. She improves to 7-2-1.
Pancrase took a page out of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s book and distributed awards for the Knockout, Submission and Fight of the Night tonight. The spirited main event between Yamaguchi and Sunaba was deemed Fight of the Night; a prestigious honour given that the bout was the first female headliner in the storied history of Pancrase. For Yamaguchi, the win marked her first step forward after making significant changes to her training and career.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)