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Miku Matsumoto To Defend Against Tomomi Sunaba

Matsumoto vs Sunaba Set For DEEP: "44th Impact"

by Robert Sargent

Japan's fastest-rising female star, Miku "Supernova" Matsumoto, will return to competition to defend her DEEP Women's Lightweight Championship at DEEP: "44th Impact" on October 10th against veteran Japanese striker "Windy" Tomomi Sunaba.

Should Matsumoto successfully defend her title, she has expressed a desire to challenge #1-ranked female fighter Megumi "Mega Megu" Fujii in her next bout.

Much like Matsumoto's 2007 battle with knockout artist Hisae Watanabe, which saw Matsumoto capture the DEEP Women's Lightweight (106-Pound) Championship with a Majority Decision victory, she will face another talented striker when she meets Sunaba.

Watanabe and Sunaba are arguably the top two Japanese female strikers in MMA history, but Matsumoto's striking has improved in leaps and bounds over the past three years.

In her fight with Watanabe, Matsumoto (21-4-0) surprisingly won most of the brief striking exchanges and controlled enough of the fight on the ground to take a well-earned decision victory to claim the title. She has since won seven times, including victories over Masako Yoshida, Misaki Takimoto, Nicdali "The Night Queen" Calanoc and Lisa Ward.

With the dominant victory over Ward, all four of Matsumoto's career losses have now been avenged. She has won 11 straight fights since her submission loss to Ward in September of 2006 and few can argue that there is no female fighter in Japan - and potentially in the entire world - who is on a bigger role right now than Matsumoto. She is currently the #5-ranked female fighter in the world.

Sunaba (12-10-1) has not enjoyed the same success as of late, but she is an excellent striker and possesses serious knockout power. Seven of her 12 career victories have come via a form of knockout and she is a threat to any and all challengers.

After suffering a freak injury in her BodogFIGHT bout against Rosi Sexton, Sunaba was sidelined for nearly a year, but she came back strong with three straight victories, including two by knockout. However, she is 0-2-1 in her last three fights and needs a big win to get her career back on-track. A victory over Matsumoto would instantly vault Sunaba back among the sport's elite.

The fight will be very interesting, though, as Matsumoto's striking skills have improved greatly over the past few years. She lacks the knockout power that Sunaba and Watanabe possess, but Matsumoto's recent strategy of employing kicks and knees to the body has paid dividends. She stopped both Takimoto and Calanoc with strikes to the body and used a series of body shots in her fight with Ward.

Sunaba will still no doubt look to keep the fight standing at all costs, as Matsumoto's ground game is excellent, but Matsumoto has proven that she can more than hold her own if the fight stays on the feet.

The fight between Matsumoto and Sunaba will be contested at a catchweight of 51 kilograms (112 pounds). Matsumoto normally competes at a lower weight and Sunaba at a higher one, so the fighters will split the difference. Matsumoto's 106-pound title will be on the line, though it is unclear how the title's weight limit will be impacted if the heavier Sunaba is victorious.

In addition, Matsumoto has stated that she would like to challenge #1-ranked female fighter Megumi "Mega Megu" Fujii if she is able to get past Sunaba. Fujii (18-0-0) has never been defeated, but Matsumoto would prove to be her toughest test in years. A Matsumoto victory would see a changing of the guard at the top of the women's MMA rankings.

In other news, the aforementioned and formerly retired Hisae Watanabe (19-6-0) has announced plans to return to the sport after close to two years away. She retired from MMA after her December 2007 win at DEEP: "33rd Impact," then got married and had a child. However, she engaged in an exhibition shootboxing match with Megumi Fujii in late August of this year and plans to return to MMA at a Jewels event in December.

The addition of Watanabe to the Jewels roster is a huge one for the promotion, as it looks to carry on the success that its predecessor, SmackGIRL, enjoyed for many years. Of Watanabe's 19 career victories, an incredible 11 have come by a form of knockout - most frequently of the one-punch KO variety - and she remains as the most feared Japanese female striker in MMA.

All of this is excellent news for women's MMA in Japan. - The Warcraft III Community - The Warcraft III Community
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