Shoot Boxing Women’s Flyweight Champion Rena Kubota earned her biggest MMA win to date in impressive fashion tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation 5: “Sakura” in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. Kubota stopped Hungarian prospect Dora Perjes with a devastating left hook to the liver.
Also on tonight’s card, rising star “King” Reina Miura dominated Jazzy “Alpha Female” Gabert in open-weight action. Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka quickly submitted Bestare Kicaj, and teen standout Kanna Asakura took a hard-fought decision victory over Aleksandra Toncheva Plamenova.
Kubota (4-0-0) was put on the defensive right away by Perjes (7-2-0), who jumped into a unique flying rear-naked choke attempt and quickly transitioned to an armbar. She wrenched back on Kubota’s arm, but Kubota freed herself and stood up, and she dropped Perjes with a liver kick. Kubota, who is used to standing-eight counts in shoot boxing, temporarily stopped fighting as she expected that Perjes would be counted out.
When no count was given, Kubota realised her mistake and swarmed on Perjes with punches and body kicks. Perjes dropped down for a leglock attempt, but Kubota countered with stomps to the face. The fighters stood and Kubota landed a kick-punch combo. She finished with a left hook to the liver that dropped Perjes for good and ended the fight at the 2:49 mark.
“I thought [Perjes] might clinch with me right away, and she succeeded, but I defended and that made me confident,” Kubota stated backstage following her knockout victory. “I got to show ‘Scary Rena’ tonight. I used soccer kicks and knees to the head on the ground. When I landed the crecent kick, I thought the fight was finished, but my corner told me to look back and I realised my error.
“Yes, her armbar scared me,” Kubota continued, “but I was successful in defending against it. I had the impression that she is good from the bottom, so I trained soccer kicks and stomps. There is a lot of female talent in Rizin and every female fight is fun. I hope that this continues to increase women’s interest in sports.”
“[Kubota] has nice striking skills on the feet,” Perjes noted backstage. “I needed to get the fight to the ground quickly. If I had stayed standing, I would have lost earlier. Rizin was a nice event. I had never participated in an event this large before.”
Miura (3-0-0), despite giving up one foot of height and nearly 35 pounds of weight to her opponent, completely dominated pro-wrestling convert Gabert (1-1-0) on the mat en route to a submission victory late in the second round of their open-weight bout.
Following an early exchange of haymaker punches on the feet, Miura threw Gabert to the ground against the ropes and she spent the remainder of the round landing punches, knees and hammerfists from side control while trapping Gabert in a series of top-side crucifixes. Gabert cracked Miura with heavy punches in round two, but Miura secured another key takedown and she threatened with arm-triangle chokes on the ground. Gabert defended, but Miura locked on a late-round armbar and Gabert was forced to submit at the 4:54 mark of the second round.
“I won as usual,” Miura quipped backstage. “I saw many people here, but it did not make me nervous. After I brought this fight to the ground, I was confident I would win. I bring confidence and guts from my judo background, and I predict how my opponents will fight using my judo experience, so I can defend when opponents bridge and try to stand. I will fight anyone, including Gabi [Garcia]. I want to know how strong I am, and I want to face anyone who is thought to be stronger than me.”
“I’m disappointed for myself, for my team and for my fans,” Gabert confessed after her defeat. “Reina is strong. I hit her hard, but once the fight hit the ground she was too strong and she stopped me from changing position. I wanted to stay standing, but I could not make that happen. My coach, Peter Sobotta, is good on the ground. I’ve only had seven months to train for my MMA career, so I will continue to improve.”
Ishioka (15-10-0) rebounded from a tough loss in November with one of the best performances of her career tonight. After an early takedown from Kicaj (2-1-0), Ishioka swept into top position and looked to work from Kicaj’s guard. Kicaj countered with an armbar attempt, but Ishioka escaped and she took Kicaj’s back in the process. Soon after, Ishioka sunk in a rear-naked choke and Kicaj tapped out at the 2:11 mark, just as she was losing consciousness.
“My opponent was strong and powerful, and I was too cautious early in the fight,” Ishioka noted backstage. “After the fight hit the ground, I was confident. I came to Rizin because of Rena [Kubota], and I want to be a part of the [atomweight grand prix] tournament, but a single match against Rena would be fine, too. I’ve almost given up on my career many times. I’ve lost many times, including against [Seo Hee] Ham and in my last fight as well, but finally I made a big day for my career.”
“I could not make the fight last long and my strategy was wrong,” Kicaj stated after her loss. “She made me grapple and I was submitted as a result. I had an advantage in the striking and I landed more, but I made a mistake in positioning and that cost me the fight. Rizin treated me very well. If I am invited back, I will fight anyone, but it would be a huge honour to face Rena [Kubota].”
In the most competitive female fight on the card, Asakura (7-2-0) held off the charge of amateur standout Toncheva (0-1-0), who put forth a solid showing in defeat in her pro debut.
The fighters traded punches on the feet early on and Toncheva attacked with an armbar and a triangle choke after Asakura took her down. Asakura remained calm and she passed from side control to mount. She hunted for an armbar of her own, but Toncheva defended well and the fight soon returned to the feet. Asakura secured another slick takedown, and she landed some hard ground and pound, but Toncheva remained active from her back and she tried for another armbar before time expired.
Asakura took Toncheva back down in the second stanza and she resumed working from top position in side control and mount. Big punches landed for Asakura, who followed with a soccer kick to the face as Toncheva scrambled up to a standing position. Toncheva stuffed one takedown, but Asakura got her down on her second try and she finished the round with more ground and pound.
The final round began with another takedown from Asakura, who used an arm-triangle choke attempt to set up a move to Toncheva’s back. From there, she worked for rear-naked chokes until Toncheva turned into her guard and struck from top position. The fight briefly returned to the feet and Asakura took her opponent down once again. She attempted another arm-triangle choke and landed hammerfists to Toncheva’s face until the end of the entertaining fight. All three judges scored it for 19-year-old Asakura, who took the Unanimous Decision victory. She has won four of her past five bouts.
“I regret that I could not finish the fight, but I am glad that I won,” Asakura said backstage. “Expect me to be in the [atomweight grand prix] tournament. Rizin has become more focused on women, and I am happy that I won here. I trained hard for this and that is why I won. I did not take my opponent lightly. I have no particular names in mind for my next opponent, but I definitely want to be in the tournament.”
“Kanna was strong, but it was a good matchup and I have no regrets about taking the fight,” Toncheva stated after the bout. “It is a dream come true for me to be able to fight for Rizin. I had never lost before, but this loss has taught me important lessons.”
Official attendance for Rizin Fighting Federation 5 at the Yokohama Arena was 12,729. Full play-by-play and results for all fights on the Rizin FF 5 card can be found here.
(Photo Credit: Shoot Boxing)