Japanese star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano has confirmed plans for her retirement from mixed martial arts in early 2014. Nagano is the latest in a string of recent retirees and she will compete in a final exhibition match at Deep Jewels 3 on February 16th in Tokyo. The news was announced today.
Deep Jewels producer Yasuko “Pink Spider” Mogi also retired from active competition today, and she has stepped down as the matchmaker for the all-female promotion. In two new bouts added to Deep Jewels 3, Shizuka Sugiyama faces Mizuho Sato and Sachiko Fujimori takes on Shiori Hori.
Nagano (14-9-0) has been one of the most popular female fighters in Japan since her MMA debut for Smackgirl in late 2007 and she competed on 18 of the 26 cards promoted by Smackgirl’s successor, Jewels. Her hopes of becoming a Jewels champion were dashed as a result of untimely losses, but the talented grappler remained in the championship picture for more than two years.
When Jewels merged with Deep to form Deep Jewels earlier this year, Nagano entered into the new promotion’s inaugural 114-pound lightweight title tournament in hopes of finally capturing a prestigious championship. However, at Deep Jewels 2 this past month, Nagano dropped a Unanimous Decision to Emi Tomimatsu in a tournament semi-final rematch.
With her hopes of becoming a champion once again put on hold, Nagano, who turns 30 on December 29th, has opted to step away from MMA in order to pursue other interests. She joins Megumi Fujii, Hitomi Akano, Hiroko Yamanaka and Kikuyo Ishikawa, among others, on the sidelines as the latest retiree in 2013.
Jewels faced criticism at times for heavily promoting Nagano in spite of her inability to earn a title fight in the promotion, but Nagano won six of seven fights prior to her loss to Tomimatsu in November and many observers felt that she had deserved to win a December 2011 bout against “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi that ended in a contentious Split Decision in Yamaguchi’s favour.
Nagano’s departure leaves a big hole on the Deep Jewels roster that the promotion will attempt to fill by developing new stars in the coming year. It will do so with a new matchmaker as a result of today’s announcement that Mogi (3-10-0) will also be retiring. Mogi was once one of the most talented female grapplers in Japan, but the 44-year-old has struggled in recent MMA fights and she leaves the sport after losing seven straight bouts.
Two fights were confirmed today for the Deep Jewels 3 card. In one, top star Shizuka Sugiyama (10-3-1) takes on Mizuho Sato (6-5-1) in an open-weight bout. Sugiyama is unbeaten in her past five fights, but she is coming off of a disappointing Majority Draw against Ji Yun Kim this past month. Sato also fought to a Draw in her most recent fight against Kyoko Kimura at Pancrase Progress Tour 1 in early 2012. A second fight at Deep Jewels 3 pits Sachiko Fujimori (2-0-0) against newcomer Shiori Hori (0-0-0).
Deep Jewels 3 takes place on February 16, 2014 at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo, Japan. The event features a three-round Deep Jewels Lightweight Championship bout between Mizuki Inoue and Emi Tomimatsu.
Deep Jewels 3 Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– Mizuki Inoue vs Emi Tomimatsu [52kg Deep Jewels Lightweight Championship – 3×5]
– Mika “Future Princess” Nagano vs TBD [Retirement Exhibition Match – TBD]
– Shizuka Sugiyama vs Mizuho Sato [Open-Weight Deep Jewels Official MMA Rules – 2×5]
– Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama vs Satomi “Sarami” Takano [48kg Deep Jewels Official MMA Rules – 2×5]
– Masako Yoshida vs Miyoko Kusaka [48kg Deep Jewels Official MMA Rules – 2×5]
– Yuko “Amiba” Oya vs Mamiko Mizoguchi [50kg Deep Jewels Official MMA Rules – 2×5]
– Sachiko Fujimori vs Shiori Hori [53kg Deep Jewels Newcomer MMA Rules – 2×5]
(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)