Mei Yamaguchi Wins Featherweight Title At Deep Jewels 8Final Valkyrie champion “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi captured another prestigious title tonight in the Deep Jewels 8 main event in Tokyo, Japan. Yamaguchi defeated two opponents in one night to win the Deep Jewels Featherweight Grand Prix and became the second Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion.

Yamaguchi earned her spot in tonight’s championship final by handing Mina Kurobe her first defeat, while Satomi “Sarami” Takano also advanced to the finals by outpointing Tomo Maesawa. In the main event, Yamaguchi stopped Takano very late in the second round to capture the vacant 106-pound title.


Yamaguchi (15-8-1) traded punches with Takano (6-6-0) on the feet early in round one and Takano landed front kicks that prompted Yamaguchi to shoot in for takedowns. Takano stuffed each one and attempted an O goshi throw, but the fighters fell from the ring. The competitive round ended with both women landing punches on the feet.

Takano put together more punching combinations in round two and Yamaguchi tried for a takedown. Takano defended well, but a failed throw attempt resulted in Yamaguchi taking her back on the ground. Yamaguchi postured up and landed punches until Takano battled back to her feet. A second throw from Takano also failed and Yamaguchi took her back on the mat once more. Takano rolled over and tried for a last-ditch armbar, but Yamaguchi escaped. Takano turtled as Yamaguchi dropped hammerfist after hammerfist and the fight was stopped at the 4:57 mark of round two.

Yamaguchi, who previously held the Valkyrie Featherweight Championship from February 2010 until the promotion’s collapse nine months later, has now won three straight fights and is once again one of Japan’s premier female MMA fighters. With tonight’s wins, she becomes only the second woman to hold the Deep Jewels Featherweight Championship.

“I didn’t feel very tired after the first fight,” Yamaguchi said after her title win. “Maybe I was on a ‘fighter’s high’ in the second fight, but I was not tired at all. ‘Sarami’ always aims to finish, which is why I wanted to finish her. I must respect her. I began cutting weight earlier [than usual], so I did not have to cut much water weight and I performed better in this tournament because of the [easier] cut.”


Stepping in on just two days’ notice, Canadian strawweight Tushara “Tee Vee” Veerella (1-0-0) used her large reach advantage to outstrike 13-year veteran Misaki Takimoto (15-14-4) en route to a Unanimous Decision victory in a non-tournament bout. Veerella was a last-minute replacement for Yuko “Amiba” Oya, who was forced to withdraw from the event this week after suffering a fracture in training.

Veerella kept Takimoto at bay with leg kicks in the opening round and she dropped Takimoto with a big right hook. Takimoto returned to her feet and Veerella landed more kicks before the bell. Takimoto clinched and landed knees to the body while working for takedowns in the second round. Veerella broke free and scored with more leg kicks, but Takimoto closed the distance again and landed knees to the head and body. The rally was not enough and all three judges awarded Veerella with a big upset win.


In one of two grappling matches on the card, former Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion and upcoming Invicta FC title challenger Ayaka Hamasaki engaged in a spirited battle with reigning Deep Jewels Lightweight Champion Mizuki Inoue.

Hamasaki stuffed a takedown and took Inoue’s back in round one, but Inoue fought off a kimura attempt and countered with a triangle choke. Hamasaki tried to pass to side control and Inoue worked for another triangle choke before the bell. Hamasaki reversed another takedown in round two and attacked with a kimura, but Inoue escaped and stood up. Hamasaki immediately locked on a standing guillotine choke that forced Inoue to fall to her back. She pulled her head free and attempted a triangle choke and an armbar before time expired.

At the end of two rounds, Hamasaki was declared the winner by Unanimous Decision, but Deep Jewels officials clarified after the event that the official result of the match is a Draw. Hamasaki is next set to challenge Invicta FC Atomweight Champion Hérica Tibúrcio at Invicta FC 13 in July.


Prior to capturing title gold in tonight’s main event, Yamaguchi earned her spot in the tournament final by handing rising star Kurobe (5-1-0) the first loss of her professional career in the second of two grand prix semi-final bouts.

Yamaguchi countered right hands from Kurobe by taking her down in the opening round, and she landed some nice ground and pound from Kurobe’s half-guard. Kurobe stood briefly, but Yamaguchi took her down again and landed a series of hammerfists. In round two, Yamaguchi scored early takedowns, but Kurobe scrambled on the mat and she wound up on top in Yamaguchi’s guard. Yamaguchi stood back up and the fighters traded punches. The fight ended with Kurobe stuffing two more takedowns.

Yamaguchi’s ground control was enough to earn her a Unanimous Decision victory from the judges.


The first grand prix semi-final tonight saw Takano outwork Maesawa (5-5-0) on the feet and on the ground en route to a well-deserved Unanimous Decision win.

Takano opened the fight with a hard right hand and she fought off a pair of O goshi throw attempts from Maesawa. She took Maesawa’s back after the second failed throw and attempted an armbar from mount, but Maesawa scrambled back to her feet and scored a key takedown of her own before the bell. Takano landed jab-cross combos in round two and reversed another takedown that allowed her to mount Maesawa once more. Maesawa fought off an armbar, but Takano was relentless with her submission attempts and tried for a triangle choke before the bell.

All three judges rewarded Takano’s efforts with a unanimous verdict that propelled her to the finals.


Opening up the action on tonight’s abbreviated card, Yukari Nabe defeated Kurumi Ishizuka in a grappling match. Ishizuka started strong and held back control in round one, but Nabe turned into her guard and nullified Ishizuka’s offence from her back. In the second round, Nabe took Ishizuka down with a harai goshi throw, and she tried to set up armbars on two occasions. Ishizuka countered with a late ankle lock attempt, but it was not enough to steal back the match and Nabe walked away with a Unanimous Decision victory.


Following tonight’s event, Deep boss Shigeru Saeki discussed the struggles in putting together the Deep Jewels 8 card – which underwent a number of late changes due to injuries and illness – and also looked ahead to Deep Jewels 9. The event takes place on August 12th at Differ Ariake in Tokyo, and all fights will be contested inside a cage. Already confirmed for the card is a Deep Jewels Middleweight Championship rematch between Takayo Hashi and Ji Yeon Kim.

“I made a poster for tonight’s event, but half of the fighters [on it] could not fight,” Saeki said. “This event was a mess [to put together], but the fights turned out well. Our next event will be in a cage and will include men’s fights as well.”

Saeki noted that tonight’s Hamasaki-Inoue grappling match was indeed a Draw and that Hamasaki had been erroneously announced as the winner. Both fighters, along with Saeki, had agreed ahead of time that the bout would be ruled a Draw if neither woman was able to secure a submission.

Full play-by-play for all bouts on the Deep Jewels 8 card can be found here.



(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)