Exclusive Interview With Jewels Prospect Mizuki InoueAt age 16, Mizuki Inoue is one of the youngest female champions in mixed martial arts history. The teen prodigy, who has been a professional MMA fighter for just three months, became the 2010 Jewels 56kg Rough Stone Grand Prix Champion in December and is just getting started in her career.

Inoue, who now competes under the ring name MIZUKI, first made headlines in July when she upset veteran MMA fighter Emi Fujino in a pro kickboxing match. She remains perfect as a professional in both kickboxing and MMA and speaks exclusively with MMARising.com about her career to date.


Representing the White Heart Karate Association and fighting out of Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, Mizuki faces a unique challenge that most of her Jewels counterparts are not familiar with. While others have jobs in addition to their fighting careers, Mizuki is still in high school and trains for fights when not busy with homework and school responsibilities.

With technical striking skills and head movement that far surpass most other female fighters in mixed martial arts – as well as some men – Mizuki is already regarded as one of the very best prospects in the Jewels promotion.


Note: The following interview is posted in its entirety in both English and Japanese. Phrasings may be slightly altered or shortened for clarity. Translation courtesy of Roxanne Modafferi.


MMARising.com: Mizuki, your victory in the Jewels Rough Stone GP final was very impressive and you have already gained fans and media attention in North America. How did it feel to win the Jewels tournament at just 16 years of age?

Mizuki: It doesn’t really make a difference to me that I’m the youngest. I’m so happy I won.

MMARising.com: 今回のあなたのジュエルスのラフ・ストーン・トーナメントでの衝撃的な優勝は、既にアメリカのファンやメディアの注目を集めています。ほんの16歳という若さでトーナメントに優勝した気持ちを教えてもらえますか?

魅津希: 最年少とか関係なしで、優勝できて嬉しいです。


MMARising.com: Your kickboxing skills and head movement are already better than many female fighters who are twice your age. How long have you been training kickboxing?

Mizuki: I’m not doing [training] kickboxing, but rather karate. I’ve been doing it for going on six years. However, my technique still has a ways to go.

MMARising.com: あなたのキックボクシングの技術、特にヘッド・ムーブメントは素晴らしく、ずっと年上でキャリアのある選手より優れているのではと思える程です。一体どれくらいキックの練習をしてきたのですか?

魅津希: 私はキックではなくて、「空手」をやっています。空手は6年になります。


MMARising.com: With both of your MMA wins coming by submission, you are also very good when fighting on the ground. Have you been training jiu-jitsu and grappling for long?

Mizuki: I trained really hard to prepare for this tournament. I worked a lot on both grappling and stand-up technique.

MMARising.com: MMAでの二勝はどちらもサブミッションによる一本勝ちでしたからグラウンドも上手いですね。寝業は長い間練習してきたのでしょうか、それとも比較的短期間のうちに?

魅津希: このトーナメントで勝つために一生懸命練習してきました。


MMARising.com: What made you first want to compete as a professional fighter? Besides kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, which other martial arts do you train in?

Mizuki: I wonder, whenever did I become a pro? Well, I’ve devoted myself to karate since Junior High School, so I guess it was back then that I got serious. I felt the happiness of winning, so I kept going. I haven’t done any other form of martial arts.

MMARising.com: プロになりたいと思ったきっかけはなんでしたか?キックと柔術以外に他の格闘技や武道などをやってるのでしょうか?もしくはやった経験がありますか?

魅津希: いつのまにかプロになっていました。


MMARising.com: What do your friends and family think about your fighting career? Do they support you or would they like you to do something else when you are finished school?

Mizuki: I’m so happy that everyone supports me. It’s thanks to a lot of people that I’m able to apply myself, and I’m very grateful. After I graduate, I’ll continue karate while I go job hunting.

MMARising.com: あなたのお友達やご家族は、あなたがプロとして格闘技の試合をすることについてどう思われていますか?あなたを応援してくれていますか?あるいはあなた自身、学校を卒業後は何か他の事をしたいという考えはありますか?

魅津希: みんな応援してくれるので、とっても嬉しいです。いろんな人のおかげで頑張れますし、感謝しています。


MMARising.com: You have faced tough opponents in all of your kickboxing and MMA bouts this year and you’ve won all of your pro fights. How has your life changed as more people become interested in your career?

Mizuki: My life hasn’t really changed, but the feeling of “I have a long way to go” has gotten stronger. There are fighters out there much stronger than myself. In order not to lose to them, I have to put in a lot of hard work to step-by-step become stronger than I was yesterday.

MMARising.com: 今年あなたが対戦した相手はかなりの強豪ばかりでしたけれど全員に勝ちましたね。魅津希さんの人生は変わりましたか?

魅津希: 人生は変わってないですけど、気持ち的に「自分はまだまだなんだ」と、強く思いました。


MMARising.com: At 16, you are the youngest female fighter to win a major tournament championship in MMA. At the start of this year (2010), did you ever think that you would be fighting for Jewels and winning a Jewels Rough Stone GP this quickly?

Mizuki: I’m aware that I’m young, but I didn’t really think about it when I fought in the tournament. I’m so happy I can fight in the famous “Jewels” promotion.

MMARising.com: 16歳でメジャー大会のトーナメントで優勝、これはMMAという競技の歴史の中で最年少記録だと思います。今年(2010年)の初めには自分でこういった結果を出すことを予想していましたか?それともそういう目標を持っていた?

魅津希: 若いのは自分でも自覚していましたが、特に考えずにジュエルスに出場しました。


MMARising.com: Fans in North America who have read about your fights would like to know more about your plans for next year (2011). Do you plan to continue fighting in both sports (MMA and kickboxing) in the future or do you think that you will focus mostly on MMA now that you are in Jewels?

Mizuki: As of now, I plan to do both kickboxing and MMA. If I can’t win in kickboxing or MMA, I can’t really say that I’m strong. Therefore, I want to do both. I don’t want to lose. (laughs)

MMARising.com: アメリカにいるファン達はもっと魅津希さんの来年の予定が知りたいです。キックと総合両方やるつもりですか?戦い相手がいますまか?両方か、それともジュエルスで勝ったからもっと総合に集中したいですか?

魅津希: 今のところ、両方やるつもりでいます。


MMARising.com: When you finish school, would you like to continue fighting for many years or do you have other plans for your future?

Mizuki: Of course I plan to continue fighting after graduating. I guess I’ll fight as long as I physically can? I’ll always do my best!!

MMARising.com: 学校を卒業後も格闘技を続けますか?それとも他に何か将来の計画があったりしますか?

魅津希: 卒業しても、もちろん続けます。体力が続く限りですかね・・?


MMARising.com: If you continue fighting for a long time, would you like to compete in North America or do you think that you will be happy fighting in Japan only?

Mizuki: For now, I have plenty to do in Japan. Technique-wise, I’m behind other people in some areas. Maybe after I fight a lot in Japan I’ll be able to go abroad. There are lots of strong fighters in Japan, so my goal is to rise above them. Then, when I have confidence in myself, I’d like to try fighting overseas.

MMARising.com: 今後キャリアを積んでいく中で、海外やアメリカでも試合をしてみたいと思いますか?それともあくまで日本国内優先でしょうか?

魅津希: 今はまだ日本で精一杯です。自分はまだまだ技術的にも他の人より劣っている部分があります。


MMARising.com: Who are some other fighters that you respect and look up to in MMA? Who has helped your career the most so far?

Mizuki: I don’t really look up to anyone specifically, but I really admire strong fighters. Of course, it’s thanks to all of my teachers who’ve raised me that I’ve come this far. There’s so much I have to learn, so from here on out I’m going to continue to improve. I’m grateful to the other students whom I practise together with, my family who supports me and my friends.

MMARising.com: 尊敬している選手は誰ですか?そして誰が魅津希さんのキャリアーをサポートしていますか?

魅津希: 尊敬している選手はいないのですが、強い選手には憧れます。


MMARising.com: Some fighters have ring names that they use when they fight. Do you use one?

Mizuki: A friend from school thought of the ring name for me [MIZUKI]. I tried to think of one myself, but couldn’t really come up with one. Actually, I’m really grateful to my friend. I like it a lot. Isn’t it cool?

MMARising.com: ニックネームかリングネームを考えましたか?

魅津希: 学校の友達がつけてくれました(“MIZUKI”)。自分でも考えたのですが、なかなか思いつかなくて・・・
本当に、その考えてくれた子には感謝しています。お気に入りです^^ カッコイイですよね?


MMARising.com: Do you have any messages for your fans around the world that are following your career?

Mizuki: This year I had my professional debut. I think it was pretty tough to be active as a pro fighter. I didn’t know that I have fans overseas, but I’m going to continue to train hard, and I’m really happy to have people cheering for me. This year, and even more so next year, I’ll put on even better fights. Thanks so much for the support.

MMARising.com: ファンにコメントかメッセージお願いします。

魅津希: 今年1年は、初めてのプロデビューでした。


MMARising.com sincerely thanks Mizuki for her time for this interview and wishes her the best as she continues her career in 2011. An additional thank you to Roxanne Modafferi and Kinya Hashimoto for their assistance with this interview.



(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)

  1. Keeping an eye on her.