Hiroko Yamanaka Now Set To Face Sandy FurnerDespite a series of last-minute changes, Hiroko Yamanaka will still compete in mixed martial arts action on Sunday’s 2010 Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup card. She will face multi-division Muay Thai kickboxing champion Sandy “Feisty” Furner of Australia. MMARising.com has learned that Strikeforce officials may take a keen interest in the fight.

Yamanaka’s original opponent, Olympic Bronze Medallist Randi Miller, was forced to withdraw due to injury and a targeted replacement bout with Leslie Smith failed to materialise. She will now face Furner on two days’ notice.

Yamanaka (9-1-1) is one of the few top contenders remaining in the 145-pound women’s division and is seen by many as a potential future title challenger for Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos. The 5’11” star of Japan’s Jewels promotion has repeatedly campaigned for a fight with Santos and would take one step closer to making that dream a reality if she is able to defeat Furner. Previously competing at weights as high as 170 pounds, Yamanaka has cut weight for her last two fights and easily weighed in at 143 and 141 pounds, respectively. She has worked diligently on her striking in recent months and her standup skills may be tested on Sunday.

Furner (15-5-0 Kickboxing), a native of Riverstone, New South Wales, Australia who trains with Team Jabout, is presently the number one-ranked Junior Welterweight (63kg) in the world by International Kickboxer magazine. She is the current ISKA and WKA Light Welterweight South Pacific Champion and the WMTA Australian Champion. She also formerly held the WKA Welterweight South Pacific Championship. Furner most recently participated in the Australian version of Master Toddy’s Muay Thai-themed “Tuff Girls” reality show competition and will make her mixed martial arts debut against Yamanaka. She will enter the fight with a decided striking advantage.

The fight between Yamanaka and Furner will be contested at a weight of 65kg (143 pounds) and will mark the third fight in a row where Yamanaka will cut weight to weigh in below 145 pounds. The bout will feature two five-minute rounds. Should Yamanaka be victorious, an opportunity with Strikeforce may be in her future and MMARising.com has confirmed that Strikeforce officials will be taking note of the fight’s outcome. Yamanaka has spoken repeatedly of her desire to challenge Santos for the Strikeforce title and the bout with Furner, a talented and accomplished striker, will be very telling as to just how far Yamanaka’s striking has progressed.

The 2010 Shootboxing Girls S-Cup begins on August 29th at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka in Tokyo, Japan. Among those competing are 2009 Girls S-Cup Champion RENA, former DEEP Women’s Lightweight (106-Pound) Champion Hisae Watanabe and current Valkyrie Featherweight (115-Pound) Champion Mei “V Hajime” Yamaguchi.


Girls S-Cup Tournament Matchups:

– RENA vs Hisae Watanabe
– Kate Martinez vs Zaza Sor Aree
– Mei “V Hajime” Yamaguchi vs Samanta van Dole
– Ai Takahashi vs Christina Jurjevic



(Photo Credit: Jewels)