Megumi Fujii Details Extensive 2010 Injuries, First MMA LossOn October 28, 2010, Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii suffered the first defeat of her storied mixed martial arts career. That Fujii was able to compete at all in 2010 was a remarkable feat in itself, however, as the Japanese submission ace suffered multiple serious injuries that had her on the verge of retirement.

Fighting through herniated discs in her back and a torn pectoralis major that made even walking and moving difficult, Fujii persevered and came painfully close to capturing Bellator’s first women’s title. In part one of an exclusive interview, Fujii speaks with about her 2010 campaign.

Months before Fujii signed with Bellator Fighting Championships, she had come to a crossroads in her career. With few opportunities left for her in Japan and the sudden announcement that her close friend, former DEEP champion Miku Matsumoto, was set to retire at just 28 years of age, the then-35-year-old Fujii herself contemplated calling it quits.

In March, the situation became much more dire for Fujii, as nagging back problems turned into serious injuries that left the Abe Ani Combat Club standout barely able to move.

“I’ve had a bad back for a long time, ever since I was young,” Fujii says. “I started sports at a very early age. Sometimes it acts up. Then suddenly in March [2010], it started hurting so much that I couldn’t move or even stand up. At the hospital, I got an MRI and it showed hernias in two different places. In addition, some bone was sliding, which made a total of three problems. My nerves were rubbing against the bone, causing the extreme pain.

“I couldn’t move my legs well because of the nerve,” she continues. “I could put weight on them, but I couldn’t take steps forward. It was so painful. Just before Miku’s [retirement] exhibition match at the end of April, I became able to move around a little bit. Still, people advised me that I’d better not do the match. I love Miku, though, and it was her last showing, so I really, really wanted to do it. I managed to get through it, but still couldn’t train or even do weights. I had no strength in my back or lower body.”


The back injuries that plagued Fujii in March and April remained throughout the year and continue to bother her today.

“Even now, I can run but I have to run slowly,” Fujii notes. “My legs get tired fast. Back then, I tried to power-walk. I tried everything. I went to many hospitals, chiropractors, acupuncture, electricity therapy, oxygen capsules, and took a lot of medicine. It got better little by little.”

Despite still being in great pain and now on the verge of imminent retirement due to the severity of her back problems, Fujii received the opportunity that she had been waiting many months (if not years) for. Bellator contacted Fujii about competing in their first women’s tournament, which was later set at 115 pounds. Fujii was to debut for the promotion in a non-tournament bout at Bellator 21 on June 10th. Her opponent was to be Sarah Schneider, a natural 135-pound fighter.


Unfortunately for Fujii, her injury woes only got worse as the year progressed.

“I lost my toenail in May by front-kicking someone’s elbow,” she recalls. “It hurt a lot but didn’t hinder my training. In June, my injuries were still bothering me. I went into my Bellator fight against Sarah Schneider very unconfident. I trained really light up until then just to be able to fight, planning to give everything I had in the cage. She felt very heavy to me, and it was a difficult fight. I couldn’t posture or make a base when I was in her guard.

“In July, my back felt better so I resumed my normal training. During takedown practice, I felt something tear. I didn’t realize the damage at first, but when I went home and looked in the mirror, I could see the displaced muscle from the outside! I’d torn my pectoral muscle. The doctor told me not to move it, and to ice it. I did electricity therapy and light grappling not using my arms; only guard work and [striking with] my feet.

“I actually wished I could have rested more, but I had a fight in August. I couldn’t put any power behind my punches, and I was still worried about my back, but I did my best. I’m fortunate that [my opponent] Carla Esparza didn’t have so much experience in MMA, but she was still a strong opponent. Her wrestling was really good, and it was hard to take her down. I won early in the second round, but it was a very hard battle for me.”


Despite it all, Fujii makes no excuses for her performances. While her training was affected, Fujii does not attribute her lone loss – a razor-thin and contentious Split Decision defeat to Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel (Frausto) in the tournament final – to the injuries she sustained over the course of 2010.

“Well, I think the end results wouldn’t have changed, but because I was injured, I was forced to practice differently. If I’m well and energetic, I do the kind of training I like. Since I couldn’t, I focused more on small details and specific things that I could do without hurting myself. Injuries are also very stressful. Also, during my fight against Lisa [Ellis] Ward, I got kicked in the rib and that hurt for a long time after the fight. I couldn’t train so much until that got better.”


Of the fight with Frausto, Fujii reflects back on what she could have done differently. However, like many fans who watched from cageside or at home, Fujii believed that she had still done enough to win.

“I also thought that I had won the fight, but I wish I’d gone for takedowns earlier,” she says. “I went into the fight feeling alright, but because of my previous injuries, I was hesitant. Zoila was so big. What if I committed to something which aggravated an injury in the fight and it started hurting again? I was worrying about that during the match, and that wasn’t good.

“I figured that I’d keep inflicting damage with my strikes and wear her down, [which would] lead into takedowns. She was energetic, though, and didn’t run out of gas. I planned to do punch-into-takedown combinations, but this time I landed my strikes so I kept doing that; kind of getting carried away from my normal flow. I think that wasn’t good.”


The loss ended Fujii’s remarkable winning streak, which stood at 22 fights. Fujii was reduced to tears as the verdict was read after her bout with Gurgel, but she did her best to move on in continuing her quest to better the sport for other female fighters.

“I think it’s really too bad,” Fujii says of the end of her string of victories. “Not even male fighters had that 22-fight winning streak record, so I wanted to surpass the men and make that an inspiration to other female fighters.”


Fujii’s early plans for 2011 include hopes for a rematch with Gurgel, though it is currently uncertain whether the American will compete at 115 pounds again.

“I’d like to fight [Zoila] sooner rather than later. I know she struggles to make 115, but she has to defend the 115-pound belt, right? So far I’ve had no fight offers [from Bellator]. I would like to fight in May!”


Whether she challenges Gurgel for her belt or faces a different opponent in the event that the title is vacated, Fujii remains firm in her desire to represent her native Japan in capturing a major title.

“I want to repay everyone in Japan who’s supported me,” she says. “I want them to see me victorious. When I see them happy, that’ll make me happy, too. The top three biggest promotions that broadcast on TV in the U.S. are the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator. In those major organizations, no Japanese [fighter] holds a title belt. I want to be the first Japanese fighter to achieve that.”


In the second part of this interview, Fujii discusses changes in her training regimen, her fighting future and plans for life after mixed martial arts. Part Two will be published on Friday, March 18th.

Fujii’s comments transcribed and translated in their entirety by Roxanne Modafferi.


  1. I heart megumi…that sounds like a true warrior to fight while injured

  2. megumi definately won that fight , there was only 1rd that was close enough to give to frausto. going into the fifth and final rd , bellators commentator jimmy smith had megumi 3 rds to 1 , in the last rd megumi again outstruck frausto and got a takedown which she controlled position from. frausto shouldn’t of even been in the final, it should of been jessica aggulliar (who also beat frausto)against megumi for the title. if rebney really wanted to prove the integrity of bellator he would have frausto admit the judges made a mistake , vacate the title and have megumi and jag fight for the title. i think they jumped the gun after frausto koed rosi sexton and got all the interest on you tube, they found out that frausto wasn’t another cyborg. even though she was fighting girls that were way smaller than her. frausto is the only person who thinks she won . it gave mma a black eye and made it look as bad as boxing for its fight fixing, but then what do you expect REBNEY was under investigation for fight fixing in boxing. its no wonder no one wants to watch frausto , and thats sad because she does have talent ,. if she only spoke and admitted the judges made a mistake instead of being disrespectful to everyonewho watched the fights by continuing in interviews to state that she won. .

  3. Megumi is so humble, and a real fighter and a true warrior. She’s likely the most skilled MMA fighter, male or female.

    I am not sure if she will continue fighting for too long. I am even more impressed to know she beat Sarah Schneider and Lisa Ward not at 100%, given the dominant way she fought both.

    It’s sad to see such a flawless winning streak gone because of some of the worst judging in MMA history. Megumi won rounds 1, 2, 4 & 5: she had cage control in all four rounds, landed more strikers, controlled the action and was the aggressor. Zoila was throwing punches and kicks in air. And Zoila was likely weighing 130 lbs in that match.

  4. […] Note: This interview was conducted just prior to the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan. Fujii is currently recovering after a brief hospital stay due to symptoms of asthma, but she is safe and okay. Part One of this interview can be found here. […]