Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion Ayaka Hamasaki emerged victorious in her North American debut on Saturday at Invicta Fighting Championships 2 in Kansas City, Kansas. Hamasaki submitted late replacement opponent Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman in the final seconds of the third round.
The win kept Hamasaki’s unblemished record intact and placed her among the top contenders for an Invicta FC title at 115 pounds, but she is focused on facing high-level opponents rather than capturing championships. She spoke with MMARising.com after her fight through translator Shu Hirata.
Hamasaki (8-0-0) controlled the fight with Schuckman (7-5-0) throughout with takedowns and stifling top control. She prevented Schuckman from mounting much of any offence at all and worked to set up submissions using short strikes from her opponent’s guard and half-guard. An initial armbar attempt was unsuccessful, but Hamasaki was able to secure the hold a second time late in round three and Schuckman was forced to submit with just 15 seconds remaining in the fight.
Hamasaki has now won back-to-back fights over formidable opposition this year and she was not concerned when her Invicta FC 2 opponent was changed just over a week prior to the event, but she credited Schuckman’s strength for making it difficult to submit her earlier.
“Well, I train to be ready for anybody and my goal is to make the fight into my style anyway, so the opponent change didn’t really affect me,” Hamasaki told MMARising.com following her victory. “I couldn’t pass [Schuckman's] guard that easily and she was tougher and stronger than I expected. She was really good at controlling from the bottom. I know my strength and I usually go for the armbar anyway, but this time it took me a while and I was lucky to get it in the final seconds of the round.”
While some Japanese fighters have struggled in recent fights in North America, Hamasaki felt no extra pressure in representing her country. She believes that there are formidable challengers left for her in Japan, but also wishes to challenge the best fighters from other countries and would welcome additional fights for Invicta FC if offered.
“I feel that there are still fighters in Japan that should make a good fight, and of course in America the competition is very tough,” Hamasaki said. “I don’t want to be selective about my opponents, so any offer that comes I would like to take it if possible. I am not really persistent on getting titles, so titles are not really important to me. It is more important to face tough fighters. If I get an opportunity for [an Invicta FC] title fight, that means it is an opportunity to face a strong fighter. So, yes, I would love to face [those fighters].”
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)