Exclusive Pre-Fight Jewels Interview With Hiroko YamanakaAs one of the top stars in Jewels, Hiroko Yamanaka planned to welcome Olympic medallist Randi Miller to Jewels on Friday by handing her the first defeat of her MMA career. However, after a last-minute opponent change, Yamanaka was unsure whether she would be able to compete at all.

Now still on the card and facing tough veteran Molly Helsel, Yamanaka is not underestimating her experienced foe, but still has eyes on challenging Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in 2011. She speaks exclusively with prior to Friday’s fight.


“I was really looking forward to facing Randi [Miller], but I’m glad that I am still able to fight on this card,” Yamanaka says. Her opponent, Molly Helsel, is considerably shorter than Yamanaka’s height of 5’11”, but that is nothing new for the Chiba native.

“All of my opponents are shorter than me, so that does not make any difference, but I know that Molly is very experienced. I want to make sure that I fight at my own pace and do not get drawn into my opponent’s game. Even though I fought [Hitomi] Akano under Special Rules (ground and pound is permitted), I’m still not completely used to them, but I’ll do my best.”

When asked whether a win over Helsel would send a message to other American fighters, Yamanaka believes that it will. “When I win, I definitely feel that it will send a message to American fighters, but I also still have many other challenges here in Japan. I would like to face [Valkyrie Open-Weight Champion] Rin Nakai in an open-weight match.”

“I would first like to focus on this fight [with Helsel], but when I win, I wish to speak with Jewels management to make sure that I will have the chance to face Rin,” Yamanaka says, believing that an agreement could be worked out to allow her to fight the Valkyrie champ.

“My other goal is to fight Cyborg in Strikeforce. I want to fight overseas soon. I ask that my fans in the United States and Canada wait for me to fight [for you] and I promise that I will never make you regret that you have supported me.”

On Friday, Yamanaka faces Molly Helsel in a 65kg Jewels Special Rules Match that permits ground and pound. thanks her for her time for this pre-fight interview.