Top Jewels star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano will look to get back on the winning track when she returns to action on May 26th. Nagano is set to face off with journeywoman Anna Saito at Jewels: “19th Ring” in Osaka, Japan. The 53kg bout was officially announced by the promotion earlier today.
Also added to the card today was a 48kg featherweight matchup between Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto and Sadae “Manhoef” Suzumura. Yamamoto is coming off of a big win over former Valkyrie champ Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada at “17th Ring.” Suzumura earned a first-round stoppage win in September.
Nagano (8-7-0) rose to fame after winning five of her first six bouts in the all-female Jewels promotion, but she has struggled over the past two years and has now fallen out of title contention. Nagano has managed just a single win in her past five fights, though two of her defeats came via razor-thin Split Decisions. The wrestler and submission grappler most recently faced former Valkyrie contender Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino at “18th Ring” in March, but dropped a Unanimous Decision. She now looks to put an end to her losing streak and will enter as a massive favourite against Saito next month.
Saito (1-9-0) is one of Japan’s most active female fighters in MMA and kickboxing matches, but she has struggled to find success in either sport. Her lone MMA victory came in her second appearance for Jewels predecessor Smackgirl back in 2007. Saito has fought four times in the Jewels ring, but she has suffered submission defeats in all four bouts. Saito will enter the fight with Nagano as a significant underdog, but an upset is not completely out of the question. Nagano was shockingly defeated by Celine Haga in 2010 and Saito will look to follow in Haga’s footsteps at “19th Ring.”
Yamamoto (9-6-1) has won three of her five bouts for Jewels, but it was her most recent fight that finally put her on the map as a potential title contender. In December, Yamamoto curbed a two-fight losing skid by upsetting final Valkyrie Flyweight Champion Yasuko Tamada. The grappling specialist will need to score a few more wins in order to earn a shot at Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama, but she enters the bout with Suzumura with momentum on her side.
Suzumura (2-1-1) made her pro debut in a 2009 Draw under the DEEP banner, but took a lengthy hiatus from competition before returning to action this past year. She fought three times in 2011 and her lone defeat came against recently-retired veteran “Windy” Tomomi Sunaba in a two-round decision. Both of Suzumura’s victories have come inside the distance and she most recently scored a TKO stoppage at a DEEP event in Osaka this past September. She will return to Osaka for her next bout and looks to begin her own run towards title contention at Yamamoto’s expense.
Jewels: “19th Ring” takes place on May 26th at Azalea Taisho Hall in Osaka, Japan. The event is headlined by a Jewels Lightweight Queen Championship bout between Ayaka Hamasaki and Yuka “Vale Tudo Queen” Tsuji.
(Photo Credit: Jewels)