Four Advance In Featherweight Grand Prix At Deep Jewels 7The inaugural Deep Jewels featherweight title tournament began with the quarterfinal round on Saturday afternoon at Deep Jewels 7 in Tokyo, Japan. In the main event, former Valkyrie champion “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi earned her spot in the grand prix semi-finals by destroying veteran Miyoko Kusaka.

Grappling specialist Mina Kurobe kept her unbeaten record intact with a close decision win over former Deep Jewels interim lightweight champ Emi Tomimatsu. Joining Yamaguchi and Kurobe in the next round are Satomi “Sarami” Takano and Tomo Maesawa, who each scored decision victories.


Yamaguchi (13-8-1) showed why she is seen as one of the favourites in the 48-kilogram (105.6-pound) title tournament with a quick and impressive victory on Saturday. She pressured Kusaka (5-9-1) with combinations right away and initiated a clinch soon after. Seconds later, Yamaguchi landed a brutal knee to the body that dropped Kusaka in a heap and the brief bout was waved off at the 44-second mark. Kusaka stayed down for quite some time, but eventually returned to her feet and left the ring.

Yamaguchi earned MVP honours for the impressive performance.

The swift knockout victory reaffirmed why many feel that Yamaguchi will move on to become a Deep Jewels champion in the coming months, but she knows that she has a tough road ahead of her. She next meets former training partner Kurobe in the semi-final round, which takes place at Deep Jewels 8. The event is set for May 31st at Shinjuku FACE in Tokyo.

“I practised that knee,” Yamaguchi said after the fight. “I prepared for a finish in this fight, so it’s no surprise to me. I have trained with Kurobe before. I know that she is strong and I feel that she is even better in actual fights than in training. I better prepare well.”


In the action-packed co-main event, Kurobe (5-0-0) edged out Tomimatsu (8-10-0) to move on to the semi-finals. Both women tried for takedowns in the opening round and Kurobe attempted a standing guillotine choke, but Tomimatsu tripped her and escaped. The fighters stood and Kurobe landed a combination and a straight right hand before the bell. She controlled round two with more combinations and effective clinch work that kept Tomimatsu on the defensive. Tomimatsu threw counter flurries, but Kurobe finished the round strong with a one-two.

One judge scored the fight for Tomimatsu, while the remaining two both sided with Kurobe, who took the Split Decision win. She discussed her upcoming fight in May and spoke highly of her opponent and former training partner.

“I tried to fight more strategically, but it didn’t go that way tonight,” Kurobe said following the bout. “I won because of stamina and guts. I trained with Mei [Yamaguchi] and I know she is tough, but I hope to continue my winning streak.”


Avenging a past loss from the inaugural Deep Jewels card in August 2013, Takano (5-5-0) earned a well-deserved Unanimous Decision win over experienced striker Masako Yoshida (18-21-5) in their quarterfinal rematch on Saturday. Takano was the more effective boxer in round one and she scored with one-twos and crisp right hands as the fight progressed. In round two, Takano took Yoshida down with a pair of kouchi gari throws and threatened with a rear-naked choke.

All three judges scored the fight for Takano, who picked up her second straight win and re-established herself as one of the top prospects on the Deep Jewels roster. She now moves on to face fellow prospect Maesawa in May.

“I pushed forward with pressure this time and I can watch my opponent’s movement better now,” Takano stated after her win. “I’m not just rushing in and I use proper strikes now. My record isn’t pretty, so I want to make it better. Everyone thinks that Mei [Yamaguchi] will win, but it will be me who wins.”


Opening up the grand prix on Saturday, Maesawa (5-4-0) outpointed Seki (13-25-0) in a rather one-sided affair. Seki tried to initiate brawls on the feet throughout the fight, but Maesawa stayed calm and scored key takedowns that led to submission attempts on the mat. In round two, Maesawa mixed things up on the feet with punching flurries and kicks to the body. Seki became increasingly wild and Maesawa picked her apart until the final bell.

The judges were united and all three scored the fight for Maesawa, whose Unanimous Decision win moved her on to the next round of the tournament. She has now posted victories in five of her past six fights, with the lone defeat coming against a much larger Cortney Casey.

“I know that Seki is a pressure fighter who moves forward and I tried to throw her, but I couldn’t. I learned a lot from her and I thank her,” Maesawa said after the fight. “Seki is much shorter than me and my throws failed because I am used to training with much larger male fighters, but I did enjoy a reach advantage. I faced [Satomi] Takano before in a jiu-jitsu match and lost, but next time it will be in MMA with all fighting aspects and I will win.”


In a Deep Jewels first, Saturday’s card also featured a unique and at times chaotic tag-team grappling match. AACC teammates Ayaka Hamasaki and Yuko “Amiba” Oya earned a 1-0 victory over Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino and Sachiko Fujimori thanks to Hamasaki’s kimura submission of Fujimori 47 seconds into the match. The tapout proved to be the difference maker, as neither team could secure another submission before the ten-minute timer ran out.

Following the event, Deep boss Shigeru Saeki spoke about the abbreviated card and about his plans for upcoming Deep Jewels shows, which continue with the next round of the title tournament.

“This event only had five fights and I was worried because there were too few, but the pre-fight video helped us. Mei showed a lot of violence today,” Saeki said. “I will try to get talent from Invicta FC because I want to have eight fights for the next event. After May 31st, we may have another event in August that will be in a cage with both male and female fighters competing.”

Full play-by-play for all bouts on the Deep Jewels 7 card can be found here.