Exclusive Pre-Fight Jewels Interview With Saori IshiokaFour months ago, Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka was defeated in the opening round of the Jewels Lightweight Queen Tournament and her career looked to hang in the balance. From thoughts of retirement to a new focus, Ishioka now finds herself in a tournament reserve bout at Jewels: “Eleventh Ring.”

Ishioka took time off following her July loss to Sakura Nomura, but battled back with a victory in October. Though that fight did not serve as a reserve bout as first planned, Ishioka’s matchup with Yuko “Amiba” Oya on Friday will and she speaks with in this pre-fight interview.


While Ishioka could receive a second chance in the Jewels Lightweight Queen Tournament if she is able to win her reserve match and a finalist suffers an injury, she prefers to keep her focus solely on her opponent, Oya. “I already lost my first-round match,” she says, “so I just want to focus only on Amiba.”

“When I lost [to Nomura], my motivation went all the way down and I was really upset. Before, I used to focus on what others thought when I fought and what their reaction would be, but this time I am focused on myself and my fighting style.”

The new focus resulted in a shift in Ishioka’s training. While she still trains in the morning, afternoon and evening, her motivation and dedication are dramatically different from in the past.

“Before, I would train, but I would just do it without really thinking about why I was doing it or how it was helping. Now, I am really focused on training, so the quality of my training has gone up. When I’m out running, I’m focused on why I am running more. And when I am training grappling, I try to focus on a particular move that will make my grappling skill go up.”

Ishioka’s focus switched back to her fight on Friday as the judoka and karate practitioner described what she felt that she needed to do to defeat Oya, who is very skilled on the ground.

“If Amiba tries to take me down, I need to make sure that I knee her on first impact. I am confident that once I get my striking in, I can knock her out. Even if it goes to the ground, I feel that my grappling is better than hers.”

She adds, “I’m not really thinking about finishing the fight with my standup or on the ground. I will go with the flow of the game. Whenever there is an opportunity, I will take it, whether it is a submission on the ground or a knockout on the feet.”

Like many of her Jewels contemporaries, Ishioka would also like to compete overseas in the United States or Canada, and she will have her first mixed martial arts bout outside of Japan in Macau, China in January. She promises her fans that she will always have exciting fights and is very interested in fighting more in the international market.

Ishioka will face Yuko “Amiba” Oya in the Jewels Lightweight Queen Reserve Bout at Jewels: “Eleventh Ring” on Friday. thanks her for her time for this pre-fight interview.