Four fights are now official for the upcoming all-female Jewels 13th and 14th Ring doubleheader on May 14th in Tokyo, Japan. The promotion announced a pair of kickboxing matches for 13th Ring and two mixed martial arts bouts, dubbed “Jewels vs Valkyrie,” for the 14th Ring card earlier today.
Kickboxers Yukimi and Rio Kamikaze will face Kozue “Azuma” Nagashima and Miku Hayashi, respectively, as part of the afternoon’s 13th Ring card. Later at 14th Ring, Misaki Takimoto will face Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama, while Miyoko Kusaka battles Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto in MMA action.
Both mixed martial arts bouts represent a significant shift in politics among the all-female promotions in Japan. Jewels and Valkyrie – the female division of Greatest Common Multiple – formerly served as rivals after the collapse of Smackgirl in 2008, but with Valkyrie’s future uncertain and its champions now taking fights elsewhere, an alliance has been formed between the two groups.
On May 14th, the first of what could be many “Jewels vs Valkyrie” events will take place. Jewels will be represented by Takimoto and Kusaka, while Valkyrie standouts Sugiyama and Yamamoto will look to upset the promotional veterans.
Takimoto (13-11-4) is no stranger to facing Valkyrie opposition, as she fought once for the promotion in October of 2009. The nine-year MMA veteran has faced many of the sport’s biggest names in the lighter weight classes and is most famous for her pair of submission wins over recently-retired DEEP Women’s Lightweight Champion Miku “Supernova” Matsumoto. Takimoto has won three straight fights, and five of her last seven overall. Eight of her wins have come by submission.
Sugiyama (3-0-0) is the uncrowned Valkyrie Flyweight Champion. After picking up back-to-back wins in the promotion, she challenged reigning champ Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada in a November non-title affair. She emerged victorious after three rounds, but because Tamada’s title was not on the line, Sugiyama was denied the championship. With a title rematch in Valkyrie likely out of the question, Sugiyama will instead look for her second straight upset win against Takimoto in Jewels.
The bout between Takimoto and Sugiyama will be contested under Jewels Special Rules, which permit ground and pound strikes.
Kusaka (2-2-0) entered last year’s Jewels Rough Stone Grand Prix at 48kg, but was shockingly upset by journeywoman Yukiko Seki at Ninth Ring in July. She returned to action at 11th Ring in December and submitted Asami Higa with a second-round Scarf Hold Armlock. While her record stands at an even .500, Kusaka holds a win over eventual Rough Stone Grand Prix Champion Kikuyo Ishikawa and would make a big statement if she is able to win again in May.
Yamamoto (7-4-1) reigned unbeaten through her first four fights, but has since alternated between wins and losses in every bout since. Unlike Kusaka, Yamamoto was able to defeat Seki when the two faced off in mid-2007, but Yamamoto has been unable to build any momentum in recent fights. She won her lone appearance for Jewels at the promotion’s inaugural event before moving on to Valkyrie. However, Yamamoto has not fought in close to a year and a half and ring rust could play a factor.
Jewels: 13th Ring and 14th Ring will both take place on May 14th at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring in Tokyo. The events will together be part of an all-day festival to raise money for relief and reconstruction in Japan after the country was struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Jewels: 13th Ring Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– Kozue “Azuma” Nagashima vs Yukimi Kamikaze [57.15kg Kickboxing Bout]
– Miku Hayashi vs Rio Kamikaze [53.52kg Kickboxing Bout]
Jewels: 14th Ring Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– Misaki Takimoto vs Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama [48kg Jewels Special Rules MMA Bout]
– Miyoko Kusaka vs Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto [48kg MMA Bout]