Okinawa, Japan’s first female mixed martial artist, Kikuyo Ishikawa, will compete at home for the first time at Pancrase Progress Tour 6 on May 20th. Ishikawa faces unbeaten teen prospect Shino VanHoose on the card, which takes place at Music Town Oto-Ichiba in Koza, Okinawa.
Pancrase officials announced the matchup today. Ishikawa has spent her entire career in Jewels, where she won the promotion’s 48kg Rough Stone Grand Prix in 2010. VanHoose, a 16-year-old grappler who transitioned to MMA in October, has won two of her three bouts by submission.
Ishikawa (6-3-0) debuted for Jewels at its inaugural show in 2008 and earned quick submission victories in each of her first two fights. She advanced to the finals of the 2009 Rough Stone GP before suffering her first defeat. When Jewels held a second Rough Stone GP in 2010, Ishikawa entered the tournament and defeated Yukiko Seki via razor-thin Split Decision in the finals. She went on to pick up big wins over Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto and final Valkyrie Flyweight Champion Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada this past year, but Ishikawa’s dream of becoming the first Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion was cut short in December when she was defeated by current titleholder Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama.
Despite the setback, Ishikawa remains one of the sport’s top female fighters at 106 pounds. She looks to rebound from the loss to Sugiyama when she makes her Pancrase debut in May. The bout marks the first time that Ishikawa, who now trains in Yokohama, will fight at home in Okinawa.
VanHoose (3-0-0) has quickly made a name for herself in Japan as one of the top prospects to watch for in the 48-kilogram division. She needed just 51 seconds to win her MMA debut in October and went on to score her most notable win to date two months later against Asami Higa at Jewels: “17th Ring.” The teen submission ace returned to Pancrase for her second bout in the promotion and armbarred Kimie “Sakura” Okada earlier this month. VanHoose now takes a big step up in competition to face Ishikawa, who has already faced and defeated many of the division’s best, but an upset win for VanHoose would immediately propel the youngster into the top ten at 106 pounds.
Pancrase Progress Tour 6 is set for May 20th at Music Town Oto-Ichiba in Koza, Okinawa, Japan.
Go Yamamoto contributed to this report.
(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)