Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion Ayaka Hamasaki retained her title in dominant fashion tonight at Jewels: “19th Ring” in Osaka, Japan. Hamasaki stayed unbeaten by submitting legendary foe Yuka “Vale Tudo Queen” Tsuji with a first-round Kimura in the main event of the inaugural Osaka card.
Elsewhere on the card tonight, Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama took a narrow Majority Decision win over rival Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada. The promotion plans to stage its next card in July and may showcase its first event in a cage at Differ Ariake in December.
Hamasaki (7-0-0) wasted little time in taking Tsuji (23-3-0) to the ground, where she quickly moved to side control. She moved to a top-side crucifix and tried for a keylock as Tsuji defended from the bottom. Tsuji was able to scramble back to half-guard, but not for long. Hamasaki methodically passed back to the crucifix and landed punches to set up a fight-ending Kimura. Tsuji was forced to submit at 3:41 of round one and fell to defeat for only the third time in her storied career.
“Tsuji was strong, but [top control] was what we trained for and so I was glad that I could use it,” Hamasaki said after the fight. “I expected and trained for a three-round fight. I knew [Tsuji] was a legend and I wanted to fight her with my full power. I thought of myself as the challenger.”
Despite talk of a rivalry between Hamasaki and Tsuji, the champion brushed off such thoughts and said that she never considered Tsuji to be her rival. She added that she would like to fight in North America in the future, but also hopes to face new challengers in Japan as well.
Jewels producer Yasuko Mogi spoke after the event about the promotion’s future plans. She hopes to begin a new Jewels Lightweight GP in July and named Tsuji as a likely participant. In addition, Jewels intends to hold its first event at Differ Ariake in December where, for the first time in Jewels’ history, fights may be contested inside a cage.
Unlike Hamasaki in the main event, fellow Jewels champion Sugiyama (8-0-0) had a much tougher fight on her hands in her rematch with Tamada (12-8-3). Sugiyama began the fight at a disadvantage, as she was penalised with a Yellow Card for missing weight on Friday. It nearly cost her the fight, but she was able to edge out Tamada on two judges’ scorecards.
Sugiyama slammed Tamada to the mat in the opening round, but she was unable to mount much offence from the top and instead found herself having to fight off triangle chokes and an armbar. Sugiyama retained top position until the bell, but Tamada was the more active fighter. Sugiyama had much more success in the second stanza. She again took Tamada down, but this time passed to mount and spent much of the round striking from the top in mount or back control. Tamada eventually stood, but the damage had been done.
Referee Kenichi Serizawa ruled the bout even, but the two ringside judges sided with Sugiyama, who took the Majority Decision victory and remains unbeaten. Like Hamasaki, Sugiyama may also make her U.S. debut before the end of this year.
In other MMA action at “19th Ring,” Sadae “Manhoef” Suzumura (3-1-1) notched her biggest win to date with a Unanimous Decision victory over Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto (9-7-1). Suzumura stuffed most of Yamamoto’s takedowns and punished her with punches for her troubles. Yamamoto managed to get Suzumura down on two occasions in the second round, but it was not enough and all three judges awarded the bout to Suzumura.
Former Jewels contender Mika “Future Princess” Nagano (9-7-0) earned a quick submission win over a vastly overmatched Anna Saito (1-10-0). Nagano caught a knee and took Saito down early on, then worked for a top-side triangle choke. Saito scrambled free, but could not escape a Nagano armbar and tapped out at 1:50 of round one. Nagano curbed a three-fight losing streak with the win.
Rounding out the MMA portion of the card, 2010 Jewels Rough Stone GP finalist Yukiko Seki (11-21-0) took a clear-cut Unanimous Decision over the still-winless Yuko Kawabata (0-5-0) after two rounds, while Mayumi “Super Benkei” Aoki (6-8-0) made a successful return to mixed martial arts by submitting newcomer Keiko Tomita (0-1-0) with an armbar at 2:06 of round one.
Full play-by-play and results for all fights on the card, including the one-night Jewels/Deep kickboxing tournament, is available here.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)