Yoko Takahashi Prepares To Face Shana OlsenAs a 13-year veteran of the sport, Yoko Takahashi is one of the most experienced fighters in mixed martial arts. She is one of only two women to ever take current Strikeforce champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to a decision and returns to the United States on April 24th when she faces Shana Olsen.

Takahashi gained fans and respect for her spirited battle with Santos in EliteXC and is held in high regard in her native Japan. In this article, fellow fighter Roxanne Modafferi speaks with Takahashi as she prepares for the bout with talented rising star Olsen this Saturday.

In the history of women in mixed martial arts, Yoko Takahashi is a veteran with a long career in the sport. In fact, she is known as “Japan’s first female mixed martial artist.” Born in Hokkaido, the 37-year-old is still throwing down.

Takahashi first got her start in the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling organization, where she participated for six years before a hernia in her back forced her to quit. She later became a referee for the Yoshimoto Female Pro Wrestling group. On August 12, 1996, she debuted in mixed martial arts at U-Top: Women’s Vale Tudo Championship. She continued to both referee and wrestle before leaving the Yoshimoto organization permanently.

At 5’8″ and 72kg. (158lbs), Takahashi is much larger than most of the other Japanese female fighters and she found herself constantly facing foreign fighters in open-weight divisions. She fought Dutch Strikeforce star Marloes Coenen three times in Japan and is a former Smackgirl Champion. Together with fellow pro wrestler Megumi Yabushita, she has run several dojos and female MMA organizations.

Early this year, the two formed a partnership with American fight-wear company Fight Chix, adopting the brand as their team name. Fight Chix has a great and detailed story about Yoko and Megumi’s fight history and career on their blog.


Yoko Takahashi With Fight Chix MMA Team
Yoko Takahashi with Fight Chix teammates. (Photo Credit: FightChix.com)


Takahashi’s most recent fight was in EliteXC against Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in 2008, which went the distance and was unfortunately untelevised. Her current MMA record is 14-10-3 and she holds a kickboxing record of 1-1-1. Besides fighting, Takahashi has a very interesting job. She wakes up at 4:00 A.M. and goes to work at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. There, she drives carts and operates forklifts to carry tuna and other fish around the warehouses.

“It’s kind of interesting,” she said. “The pay isn’t so good, but I get off at about 3:00 P.M. every day and they are flexible. If I have a fight, I can take time off. Not many companies in Japan allow that.” She also has a part-time job as a bouncer with Megumi. Their duties include hauling collapsed and drunken customers outside when necessary. “It’s…yeah, I only do that once a week,” she said, not seeming interested in elaborating further on the job.

“My schedule is basically waking up early, going to work and getting off at about 3. Then, I go home, walk my dog, take a nap, do some training and try to go to bed early.” When asked why she started fighting, she replied, “I saw one of my older friends doing it and I thought it’d be fun. I did pro wrestling first, but then my hip was bothering me too much so I started doing MMA instead.”

It’s often hard for Japanese women to get fights outside of Japan, but on April 24th, Yoko will get back into action when she faces Shana Olsen at CFX: “Mayhem” in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“I want to keep fighting for as long as my body holds up,” she said. “And my goal? It’s a secret!” She laughed at the question. “No, wait, I’ll tell you: I want to fight in the UFC. Yes! Please write that in the interview!” she said. “The UFC!”

MMARising.com wishes Yoko the best for her fight this Saturday. A special thank you to Roxanne Modafferi for putting together this article.


(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Robert Sargent. Robert Sargent said: Article/interview: Yoko Takahashi prepares for bout with Shana Olsen this Saturday (via @Roxyfighter) – http://bit.ly/cGZHJX #MMA […]

  2. Great job Roxy!! GO YOKO!!

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MMARising: Article/interview: Yoko Takahashi prepares for bout with Shana Olsen this Saturday (via @Roxyfighter) – http://bit.ly/cGZHJX #MMA…

  4. Good luck, Olsen will kick some ass, she is skilled and smart, her strengths will tear apart yokos game plan, first round tko to olsen, the belt is Shana’s!!!