Final Valkyrie Flyweight Champion “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi competes outside of Japan for the first time in her MMA career when she battles unbeaten Finnish prospect Katja Kankaanpää on March 23rd. The bout takes place at Botnia Punishment 11 in Kankaanpää’s hometown of Seinäjoki, Finland.
Yamaguchi picked up a close decision victory over Mika “Future Princess” Nagano at Jewels: “17th Ring” in December. She has lost just once in her past eight fights. Kankaanpää stepped in as a late replacement and upset previously unbeaten Spanish prospect Karla Banitez at Cage 16 in October.
Yamaguchi (9-3-1) joined the all-female Valkyrie division of Greatest Common Multiple in late 2008 and went on to become the promotion’s second and final champion at 115 pounds. She posted her most notable victory to date in her title-winning effort against long-time star Yuka “Vale Tudo Queen” Tsuji at Valkyrie 4 two years ago and retained her new belt in a razor-thin Draw with rival Kyoko Takabayashi before Valkyrie folded. Yamaguchi has since had stints in Pancrase and Jewels, where she won all but one of her fights. Some felt that Nagano had deserved the judges’ decision in the December meeting, but it was Yamaguchi who walked away with the win and she now branches out from Japan for one of her tougher bouts to date.
Kankaanpää (5-0-0) debuted with three wins in 2010, including a pair of stoppage victories under the Botnia Punishment banner. It was not until this past year that Kankaanpää really made a name for herself, however, but two wins for the Cage promotion raised her profile and established Kankaanpää as one of Europe’s newest female prospects. In October, Kankaanpää replaced Finnish compatriot Maiju Kujala on very short notice in the Cage 16 bout with Benitez. Surprising many, Kankaanpää handed Benitez the first professional defeat of her career via a well-earned Unanimous Decision. Much like her opponent Yamaguchi, Kankaanpää also possesses a background in karate but her submission game remains one of her strongpoints.
Botnia Punishment 11 is set for March 23rd at the Rytmikorjaamo in Seinäjoki, Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland. The bout between Yamaguchi and Kankaanpää will be contested at 52kg (114.4 pounds) and will serve as the night’s main event.
(Photo Credit: GBRing.com)