Top Jewels star Shizuka Sugiyama will return to the promotion for her first bout since 2010 when she faces Japanese veteran Megumi Yabushita at Jewels: “20th Ring” on July 21st in Tokyo, Japan. The featured 62-kilogram matchup was one of five fights announced for the card earlier today.
Final Valkyrie Featherweight Champion “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi looks to get back on the winning track when she faces grappling ace Emi Tomimatsu in a rematch from Smackgirl in 2007. Elsewhere, former Valkyrie Flyweight Champion Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada battles Naoko Omuro for a third time.
Sugiyama (6-3-0) was originally scheduled to compete on the ill-fated Jewels: “12th Ring” card on March 11, 2011, but the event was scrapped due to the massive earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan earlier in the day. She subsequently travelled to Australia for one year to study English and jiu-jitsu, and competed in a number of grappling competitions during that time. The 25-year-old karateka is coming off of a disappointing defeat in her most recent fight for Jewels, but she hopes to show off her new skills when she returns to the promotion next month.
Yabushita (19-19-0) is a pioneer for women in mixed martial arts and the 14-year veteran has battled a who’s who of the sport throughout her storied career. Injuries have taken their toll on Yabushita in recent years, however, and she has suffered defeats in four of her past five fights. In November, Yabushita faced fellow pro wrestler Kyoko Kimura at Pancrase Impressive Tour 11, but a Yabushita ankle injury forced an end to the bout after one round. She returns to action for the first time since the loss to Kimura and looks to upset the promotional star, Sugiyama.
Yamaguchi (9-4-1) and Tomimatsu (5-4-0) first faced off at a September 2007 Smackgirl event, where Yamaguchi prevailed via a razor-thin Split Decision after two rounds. Yamaguchi went on to become the second and final Valkyrie Featherweight Champion, while Tomimatsu was sidelined from competition for over three years due to injuries sustained in 2008. Yamaguchi has dropped two of her past three fights, including a decision to undefeated Finnish prospect Katja Kankaanpää in March, while Tomimatsu has won three straight fights since returning to action in September. The winner of the rematch will take one step closer to title contention in the Jewels lightweight (115-pound) division.
Tamada (12-8-3) and Omuro (13-8-4) are no strangers to one another. The rivals faced off twice under the Valkyrie banner, first on the promotion’s debut card in late 2008 and again in a title rematch in July 2010. The first fight ended in a Majority Draw, but Tamada was able to do enough to take a Unanimous Decision victory in the rematch and became the first and only Valkyrie Flyweight Champion in the process. Tamada has struggled since, however, and is currently in the midst of a four-fight losing streak that includes two defeats at the hands of Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama. Omuro is unbeaten since the rematch with Tamada and looks to even the overall score at 1-1-1 in the trilogy fight.
Rounding out the card thus far is a professional bout between Yukiko Seki (11-21-0) and Satomi Takano (1-0-0 amateur), and an amateur bout between the debuting Naomi Taniyama (0-0-0) and Nana “Chanchin” Ichikawa (0-12-0).
Jewels: “20th Ring” takes place on July 21st at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan. Both the Sugiyama-Yabushita and Tamada-Omuro bouts will be contested under Jewels Special Rules, which permit strikes to the face on the ground.
Jewels: “20th Ring” Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi vs Emi Tomimatsu [52kg Jewels Official MMA Rules - 2x5]
– Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada vs Naoko Omuro [46kg Jewels Special MMA Rules - 2x5]
– Shizuka Sugiyama vs Megumi Yabushita [62kg Jewels Special MMA Rules - 2x5]
– Yukiko Seki vs Satomi Takano [46kg Jewels Official MMA Rules - 2x5]
– Naomi Taniyama vs Nana “Chanchin” Ichikawa [48kg Jewels Amateur MMA Rules - 1x4]
(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)