Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion Seo Hee Ham successfully retained her 106-pound title in a featured matchup on Monday at Deep Jewels 2 in Tokyo, Japan. Ham earned a Unanimous Decision win over top contender Sadae “Manhoef” Numata in an action-packed three-round fight.
In Deep Jewels lightweight tournament semi-final action, Emi Tomimatsu avenged a close decision loss by defeating Mika “Future Princess” Nagano in today’s rematch. Teen prodigy Mizuki Inoue advanced to the tournament final by defeating Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino for the second time.
Tomimatsu (6-7-0) entered today’s main event rematch with Nagano (14-9-0) on a three-fight losing skid, but all three defeats came via competitive decisions against quality opposition. The grappling specialist was particularly impressive in her August defeat to Hawaiian prospect Kailin Curran at Pacific Xtreme Combat 38. Tomimatsu put it all together today and walked away with the biggest win of her career.
Early in round one, Tomimatsu stunned Nagano with a one-two. She cracked Nagano with a hard right hook counter soon after and continued to get the better of the striking exchanges. Nagano stuffed Tomimatsu’s takedown attempts, but she ate another hard one-two before the end of the round and appeared to have no answer for Tomimatsu’s strikes on the feet.
Tomimatsu scored with punches in close in the second round and she tripped Nagano to the mat. She kept Nagano pinned down and scored with hard shots to the head and body. Nagano eventually scrambled and attempted a kimura. Tomimatsu took her back and locked on a rear-naked choke, but Nagano reversed position. Tomimatsu tried for a triangle choke just before time expired.
Tomimatsu’s dominant performance made it easy for the ringside judges, who awarded her with a well-deserved Unanimous Decision victory. She moves on to the 114-pound lightweight championship final next year.
In the other lightweight tournament semi-final on today’s card, 19-year-old Inoue (7-1-0) made it two-for-two against the much more experienced Fujino (13-7-0), who challenged unsuccessfully for the Jewels Lightweight Queen Championship in December. Inoue defeated Fujino in a J-Girls kickboxing match when the pair first faced off in July 2010.
Inoue countered early punches from Fujino with one-twos and she backed Fujino up. Fujino regained her footing and pressed forward with punches of her own, but the teen standout answered with a front kick to Fujino’s face. Inoue darted in and out with strikes and avoided counters from Fujino, who was a step behind in the exchanges. Inoue fell late in the round and attempted an armbar from her back.
The second round began with a big flurry from Fujino, but Inoue covered up and fired back with powerful hooks. Fujino became the aggressor, but Inoue tied her up in the clinch and scored with uppercuts. She rocked Fujino with a right hook and the fighters traded hard shots in the final 30 seconds of the fight.
All three judges scored the fight for Inoue, who took the Unanimous Decision win and now advances on to the tournament final. Both Inoue and fellow tournament finalist Tomimatsu spoke briefly about their upcoming showdown following today’s event.
“I’ve come this far, so of course I want to take the belt,” Inoue said. The Hakushinkai Karate standout will enter as a significant favourite against Tomimatsu.
“I’m a big underdog, but I’ve got confidence now after getting my revenge against Mika [Nagano]. Mizuki is so young and technical, but I’ll be younger when when I face her,” Tomimatsu joked.
Making her first title defence today, Ham (12-5-0) solidified her spot as one of MMA’s premier female fighters at 106 pounds by outpointing Numata (5-2-1) in a featured matchup. Ham became the final Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion in May and her title carried over to Deep Jewels when the new promotion was formed this year.
Ham stalked Numata early on with punches and scored a takedown after catching a body kick. She landed punches on the ground and briefly took Numata’s back, but Numata scrambled to her feet. She dropped down for a kneebar, but Ham countered with more ground and pound. She mixed up her strikes on the feet with quick punches and a head kick. Ham fell late in the round, but she scrambled up and secured a takedown before the bell.
In round two, Ham opened the action with powerful body kicks and she pinned Numata in the corner. Ham teed off with punches, but the elder Numata stayed on her feet. Ham took Numata down and transitioned from an inverted triangle choke to an armbar. Numata fought free and took Ham’s back, then trapped her in a body triangle and rained down punches. The fighters went for duelling toe holds late in the round and Ham kicked at Numata’s ribs.
Ham stopped Numata’s forward momentum with crisp counterpunches in the final round. Numata caught a kick and took Ham down into back control. She locked on a rear-naked choke, but Ham defended well. Numata continued to hunt for chokes until Ham spun into her guard. The fighters were stood up and they traded looping hooks until the final bell.
After three hard-fought rounds, Ham took the Unanimous Decision win on the scorecards. She remains the first and only Deep Jewels champion. The South Korean star has won nine of her past 11 fights.
Earlier on the card today, former Jewels champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama (9-3-0), who lost her title to Ham in May, put an end to her three-fight losing streak by defeating 41-fight veteran Masako Yoshida (17-19-5) in 106-pound action.
Sugiyama ducked under punches from Yoshida in the early goings and clinched. She tripped Yoshida to the mat and scored with some vicious ground and pound from the top. Yoshida tried to buck and escape, but she could not break free and Sugiyama continued to punish her with hard shots. The round ended with both women landing punches on the feet.
Yoshida opened the second round with a one-two and ate a counter right hook for her troubles. Yoshida pulled guard, but little came of it and the fight returned to the feet. Sugiyama took Yoshida down later in the round, but the fighters were stood up after a lull in the action. They traded punches and Sugiyama floored Yoshida with a right hand. Yoshida held on until time expired.
After ten minutes of action, Sugiyama took a much-needed Unanimous Decision win on the scorecards.
Sachiko Fujimori (2-0-0) eked out a contentious Split Decision victory over fellow prospect Megumi Sugimoto (1-1-0) on the preliminary card. Fujimori scored with some nice punches early in the fight, but Sugimoto took her down and fought off an armbar. She transitioned to knee-on-belly position, but Fujimori scrambled to her feet. Sugimoto got her back down before the bell.
In round two, Sugimoto rushed forward with punches and took Fujimori down in the corner. She secured a headlock as Fujimori worked back to a standing position. Fujimori stuffed a takedown, but Sugimoto got her down on her second try and got to mount. Fujimori exploded to her feet and Sugimoto worked for another takedown until the end of the fight.
Despite her grappling dominance, only judge Ryogaku Wada scored the fight for Sugimoto. Judges Kenichi Serizawa and Akira Yamazaki both had it for Fujimori, who took a Split Decision win. Following the fight, Wada could be seen arguing with fellow judges Serizawa and Yamazaki about the decision.
Yukiko Seki (12-23-0) picked up a one-sided Unanimous Decision win over the returning Madoka Ebihara (4-4-0) in a bout that was more about brawling than technique. The fighters traded wild punches throughout the first round. Ebihara slowed down in round two and clinched to stifle Seki’s offence. Her lack of action drew the ire of referee Serizawa, however, who penalised Ebihara with a Yellow Card for inactivity. Seki reversed a takedown and landed ground and pound late in the fight en route to the clear-cut decision victory.
In the lone grappling bout on the card, Ayaka Miura narrowly defeated former Jewels contender Asami Kodera. Miura fought off an armbar attempt in round one and later passed to North-South position. She nearly finished the match with an arm-triangle choke at the end of the round, but time expired. In round two, Miura escaped from three armbar attempts. She managed to pass Kodera’s guard into side control, but could not secure a submission. Despite this, Miura’s top control proved to be just enough to earn her the close win.
Opening up the card today, Tamaki Usui (1-0-0) scored a Unanimous Decision win over Naomi Taniyama (0-2-0). Usui countered early kicks by landing a series of knees in the clinch. The fighters traded takedowns and Usui got Taniyama back down before the bell. She landed more knees in round two and reversed a Taniyama takedown attempt. Usui threatened with an armbar from the top and transitioned to a rear-naked choke. Taniyama escaped and the fight ended in the clinch. All three judges scored the fight for Usui, who earned her first pro win.
Following today’s event, mixed martial arts legend Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii, who retired from the sport earlier this month, addressed the crowd and the Deep Jewels roster.
“After ten years, I’ve recently retired at Vale Tudo Japan,” Fujii said. “Coming back to an MMA event after retirement, I was so uplifted. Before my MMA career started, I got my first chance in a grappling fight at an event put on my [Deep boss Shigeru] Saeki. Women’s MMA isn’t in great condition, and it’s hard to find purpose, but believe in yourself and be determined and your fight will move people and garner a larger audience. I hope the fighters here believe in this. I want to say thank you to the audience, and please continue to support women’s MMA.”
Deep Jewels 3 is currently targeted for February 2014 and will likely feature the Deep Jewels lightweight tournament final between Tomimatsu and Inoue.