Following Sunday’s “Tenth Ring” event in Tokyo, Japan, a random drawing was held to determine the semi-final matchups in the inaugural Jewels Lightweight (115-Pound) Queen Tournament. The semi-finals and final will both take place at Jewels: “Eleventh Ring” on December 17th.
Returning to Jewels after a contract disagreement, South Korean standout Seo Hee Ham will face Jewels postergirl Mika “Future Princess” Nagano in one semi-final, while Ayaka Hamasaki takes on Sakura Nomura in the other. The December event will also conclude the 2010 Rough Stone Grand Prix.
Ham (5-3-0), who faced six of the best female fighters in Japan in her first six bouts, has never had an easy path in MMA. After making her debut with a shocking upset of then-DEEP Women’s Lightweight (106-Pound) Champion Hisae Watanabe, Ham went on to challenge legends such as Yuka “Vale Tudo Queen” Tsuji and unbeaten pound-for-pound queen Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii. Having won three of her last four fights, Ham advanced on to the semi-finals of the Lightweight Queen tournament, but she was subsequently released from Jewels after taking a pair of kickboxing bouts on conflicting dates. She now returns to the promotion and is one of the tournament favourites.
Nagano (7-3-0) was also thrown right into the fire early in her career, as she made her pro debut against Fujii in a December 2007 matchup. Since then, she has tasted defeat just twice and holds five victories by way of armbar submission. The wrestler and submission grappler has risen to become one of the top stars in Jewels and won the 2009 Rough Stone Grand Prix in the 54kg division. After suffering an upset loss to Celine Haga in May that left her in tears, Nagano battled back strong and avenged the loss in the pair’s rematch on July 31st. The victory propelled Nagano into the second round of the Lightweight Queen tournament and she is now two wins away from capturing the title.
Hamasaki (2-0-0) is the least experienced of the tournament semi-finalists, but has quietly emerged as a fighter to watch with back-to-back submission wins in her first two bouts. Training alongside Megumi Fujii at the Abe Ani Combat Club, Hamasaki has also competed in grappling matches and her ground skills will pose a problem for any opponent. Hamasaki punched her ticket to the semi-finals with a quick Kimura win over Han Sol Lee at Jewels: “Ninth Ring.” She will now take a big step up in competition when she faces Nomura, who is a top prospect from the Club Barbarian gym.
Nomura (3-0-0) is another wildcard entrant in the tournament, but has earned praise in recent months with a trio of impressive wins in three MMA bouts. Her most notable victory came in the opening round of the Lightweight Queen tournament when she upset Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka with a well-earned Unanimous Decision. Keeping busy, Nomura engaged in a shootboxing match on Sunday’s “Tenth Ring” card against Yoshimi “Arika” Ohama and won the fight via a lopsided decision. Her striking skills continue to develop and she should hold an advantage in the stand-up department.
Jewels: “Eleventh Ring” takes place on December 17th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The event also features the finals of all three brackets of the 2010 Rough Stone Grand Prix.
Jewels: “Eleventh Ring” Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– Seo Hee Ham vs Mika “Future Princess” Nagano (Jewels Lightweight Queen Semi-Final)
– Ayaka Hamasaki vs Sakura Nomura (Jewels Lightweight Queen Semi-Final)
– Winner of Ham/Nagano vs Winner of Hamasaki/Nomura (Jewels Lightweight Queen Final)
– Kikuyo Ishikawa vs Yukiko Seki (48kg Rough Stone Grand Prix Final)
– Hiroko Kitamura vs Mai Ichii (52kg Rough Stone Grand Prix Final)
– Mizuki Inoue vs Asako Saioka (56kg Rough Stone Grand Prix Final)
– Miki Morifuji vs TBA (Morifuji’s Retirement Match)
– Possible participants: Hisae Watanabe, Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka, Hiroko Yamanaka