Mika Nagano, Celine Haga Among Winners At Jewels: 23rd RingTop Jewels star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano had her work cut out for her today in the main event of Jewels: “23rd Ring” in Tokyo, Japan. The popular grappler earned a close Unanimous Decision victory over fellow submission specialist Emi Tomimatsu in a back-and-forth battle at 114 pounds.

In the co-main event, upset queen Celine Haga picked up her third straight victory. Haga defeated Jewels Featherweight Queen Champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama in a non-title bout. Other winners on the main card included promotional poster girl Shizuka Sugiyama and top prospect Mizuki Inoue.


Nagano (12-8-0) struggled to mount much offence in round one and Tomimatsu (5-6-0) frequently kept her pinned in the corner, where she landed knees to the legs and body. Nagano managed to score one takedown, but Tomimatsu quickly returned to her feet and mixed up her punches well. She kept the pressure on Nagano throughout the round and trapped her against the turnbuckles whenever possible.

Round two was a different story. Tomimatsu began to throw single punches rather than combinations, and Nagano made her pay for the decrease in offensive output. The first half of the round was primarily contested in the clinch, but Nagano took Tomimatsu down and nearly secured back control on the mat. Tomimatsu stood and Nagano scored with combinations and uppercuts in close. The damaging shots weighed heavily in the minds of the judges and all three rewarded Nagano’s strong finish to the fight.

Nagano took home the Unanimous Decision victory and she has now won four of her past five fights. Tonight’s bout with Tomimatsu was set to serve as a title eliminator and Nagano will likely move on to challenge unbeaten Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion Ayaka Hamasaki later this year.


After opening her career with just one win in her first 12 fights against many of the toughest fighters on the Jewels roster, Norway’s Haga (4-11-0) has now racked up three straight victories and she totalled her biggest win to date on today’s card. Haga dominated the action throughout much of her non-title fight against Sugiyama (8-2-0), who had never before tasted defeat inside the Jewels ring.

Sugiyama was aggressive with punches early in round one, but Haga countered and dragged her to the mat. Haga wound up on the bottom, but she used rubber guard to trap Sugiyama in place and struck with hammerfists and punches. Sugiyama broke free and landed some hard punches, then fought off a reverse triangle choke and continued to strike until the bell.

In round two, Sugiyama got the better of the early exchanges, but Haga regained her footing and landed knees to the body in the clinch. She tripped Sugiyama to the ground and moved straight to mount. From there, Haga landed punches until Sugiyama gave up her back. Haga hunted for a rear-naked choke and continued to batter the smaller Sugiyama with more strikes. She kept her pinned down until the end of the fight.

All three judges awarded the fight to Haga, whose Unanimous Decision win marks the second time that she has scored a significant upset under the Jewels banner. In May 2010, she defeated Mika Nagano in one of the most shocking results in Jewels’ history. Haga was named MVP of the “23rd Ring” event.


On a card filled with many quick finishes, none was faster than that of Shizuka Sugiyama (9-3-0), who stopped South Korean foe Sung Eun Kim (0-2-0) in just 61 seconds. Sugiyama immediately took Kim down and moved to mount, then rained down big punches from the top. Kim tried to buck to escape, but she found herself trapped in an omoplata in the process. Sugiyama blasted a helpless Kim with more punches until referee Kenichi Serizawa intervened for the TKO stoppage at the 1:01 mark of round one. Sugiyama has won three straight fights since returning to Jewels this past year.

MMA newcomer Takumi Umehara (1-0-0) made a successful pro debut with a lopsided Unanimous Decision victory over Jewels producer and matchmaker Yasuko “Pink Spider” Mogi (3-8-0). Umehara spent much of round one landing punches to Mogi’s ribs on the ground. Save for occasional submission attempts, Mogi was never able to get anything going. Umehara continued to control the fight on the mat in round two and scored with more hard punches to the body. The decision was an easy one for the judges, who returned a unanimous verdict in favour of Umehara.

Japan’s top female prospect and Jewels mainstay Mizuki Inoue (5-1-0) continued her rise up the ranks with another quick victory on today’s card. Inoue submitted late-replacement opponent Seo Ye Jung (0-1-0), a talented and unbeaten kickboxer from South Korea who was making her MMA debut. The 18-year-old Inoue scored a series of takedowns in the opening minute and punished Jung with punches each time she tried to stand. Jung eventually gave up her back on the ground and Inoue took advantage by locking on a fight-ending rear-naked choke at the 1:43 mark of round one. Inoue has won three in a row and is one of the most talented fighters on the Jewels roster.

Rounding out the MMA portion of the event, skilled grappler Mina Kurobe (2-0-0) made short work of Tomo Maesawa (0-3-0) in the opening bout on the main card. Maesawa secured an early hip toss takedown, but Kurobe returned to her feet. The fighters scrambled and wound up on the ground again, with Kurobe in top position. She transitioned to Maesawa’s back and sunk in a rear-naked choke, forcing Maesawa to tap out at the 1:49 mark of round one.


In a pro kickboxing bout, 2012 Jewels 52kg amateur kickboxing champion Rena Matsuda battled Yoshimi “Arika” Miyake to a Majority Draw after three close rounds. Scores were 29-29 twice and 30-28 for Matsuda, who started slow but came on strong as the fight progressed. The final round was action-packed from start to finish and both fighters landed some hard shots. The judges were unable to determine a winner, but the bout was nevertheless named Fight of the Night.

Yukari Yamaguchi once again showed why she is the fastest-rising new prospect on the Jewels roster. The 14-year-old teammate of Mizuki Inoue won two matches in succession in today’s one-day Jewels BJJ tournament.

In her qualifying matchup, Yamaguchi mauled opponent Tamaki Usui for nearly four full minutes before securing an armbar for the technical submission victory at the 3:48 mark of round one. She then won the tournament final by defeating Aya Abe via technical submission due to a keylock at the 3:29 mark of round one. Abe had earned her spot in the final by defeating Usui 3-0 on points in the opening fight on the preliminary card. Yamaguchi has already attained blue belt status in BJJ, but she cannot officially accept the belt promotion until her 16th birthday.


The preliminary card featured a pair of amateur kickboxing matches. In one, Miiri Sasaki earned a dominant Unanimous Decision victory over Moga. Scores were 20-18 across the board for Sasaki, who landed numerous kicks to the body throughout the fight. Elsewhere, Mao Muronaga and Ayumi Otaki fought to a Split Draw after two rounds. Scores were 20-19 Muronaga, 20-19 Otaki and 20-20. Neither fighter was able to take a clear advantage in the exchanges and the close nature of the fight was reflected on the judges’ scorecards.

Lastly, AACC representative Megumi Sugimoto made a successful Jewels debut by submitting Ayaka Miura in a grappling match. Sugimoto stuffed a takedown and took Miura’s back, then locked on a rear-naked choke that forced Miura to submit at the 1:50 mark of round one.

Full play-by-play for all fights on the Jewels: “23rd Ring” card can be found here.

The next Jewels event, “24th Ring,” takes place on May 25th at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo.



(Photo Credit: Jewels blog)