Naho Sugiyama Captures Atomweight Title At Deep Jewels 12Former Jewels champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama captured another title on Sunday afternoon at Deep Jewels 12 in Tokyo, Japan. Sugiyama edged out Emi Tomimatsu in the three-round main event to become Deep Jewels Atomweight Champion in front of a capacity crowd at Shinjuku FACE.

Sunday’s win capped off a run of redemption for Sugiyama, who struggled after losing her Jewels Featherweight Queen Championship in 2013. Also at Deep Jewels 12, Saori “Shooting Star” Ishioka earned a first-round finish in the co-main event, and 17-year-old Nori Date upset Yuko “Amiba” Oya.


Sugiyama (12-4-0) dropped Tomimatsu (11-11-0) with a right hook early in the championship headliner, but Tomimatsu returned to her feet and she looked to dirty box after securing a clinch. Sugiyama had none of it, and she pushed Tomimatsu away after landing knees to the body. She dropped Tomimatsu with another right hand later in the round and threw more knees to the body before the bell.

Tomimatsu jabbed her way into a clinch in the second round and she managed to take Sugiyama’s back on the feet. Sugiyama spun around and ate a big right hook from Tomimatsu. A dazed Sugiyama bought time to recover in the clinch and she eventually shrugged Tomimatsu off. Tomimatsu landed knees in the final minute and Sugiyama replied with combinations.

Sugiyama used her jab to try to keep Tomimatsu at bay in round three, but Tomimatsu closed the distance and she clinched once more. Little transpired in the clinch, but Tomimatsu picked up the pace with her punches and she landed a series of right hands as a fatigued Sugiyama began to slow down. Sugiyama fought off Tomimatsu’s takedown attempts and stayed on her feet until the final bell.

Judges Hidenobu Koike, Masato Fukuda and Yoshinori Umeki all scored the title fight for Sugiyama, who captured the vacant Deep Jewels Atomweight Championship with the Unanimous Decision victory. She has now won four of her past five fights, with the lone blemish coming against current Invicta FC champion Ayaka Hamasaki.

“I wanted to knock [Tomimatsu] out, but it’s not easy,” Sugiyama said after the fight. “I’m more satisfied with my second crowning [as champion]. I struggled in my career after losing my Jewels title, so this is more satisfying. Last time, I was unable to successfully defend my belt, so this time I want to defend it at least once against someone I have not faced before.”


In the atomweight co-feature, recent Deep Jewels title challenger Ishioka (14-9-0) halted a two-fight losing skid with a controversial first-round stoppage of 19-year-old Hana Date (1-2-0).

Ishioka used harai goshi throws to take Hana down twice in the opening round. She threatened with an armbar on the ground after throwing Hana for a second time, but Hana quickly escaped. Ishioka latched onto another armbar and Hana tried to slam her way free. She was unable to break Ishioka’s grip and Ishioka wrenched back on her arm. Referee Yoshinori Umeki intervened to stop the fight at the 4:39 mark as a dejected Hana – who did not tap out to the armbar – protested the technical submission.

“I must be more clever when fighting, but hard-fought battles are how I like to fight,” Ishioka commented following her victory. “I once fought Rena [Kubota] with shoot boxing rules, and I lost, but I have seen how Rena has brought in more fans to MMA after fighting on TV. I would like to fight her under MMA rules, and I want to promote and grow female fighting on TV. I will prepare for three full rounds, but I am the type who always wants a finish.”


Teen prospect Nori (1-2-0) earned her first pro MMA victory by upsetting the much more experienced Oya (8-5-0) in a 54kg catchweight bout on the card.

Nori landed side kicks and front kicks throughout the opening round, and Oya came up short with her punching combinations. Nori hurt her with a spinning back kick and followed with a flurry of punches. Oya shot in for a takedown, but Nori sprawled and landed hammerfists that allowed her to take top position in side control late in the round.

Oya was relentless in her pursuit of a takedown in round two, and she finally got Nori down into full guard after switching from a single-leg to a body-lock takedown. She twice passed to half-guard, but Nori defended well from the bottom and the fighters were stood up. Oya worked for another takedown late in the fight, but she was unable to get it.

Judges Hidenobu Koike, Yoshinori Umeki and Kenichi Serizawa all scored the two-round fight for Nori, whose Unanimous Decision victory put her on the winning track following defeats against Deep Jewels contender Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino and current Deep Jewels strawweight champ Mizuki Inoue.


Highly-touted grappling specialist Natsumi Mukai spoiled the return to competition of popular star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano in a two-round strawweight grappling match.

Nagano worked for takedowns in the opening round, but Mukai sprawled and she took Nagano’s back in a scramble. This allowed Mukai to threaten with kimura and armbar attempts from North-South position. In round two, Nagano secured a takedown into half-guard and she moved to mount soon after. She tried to set up an armbar, but Mukai defended and she swept into top position before time expired.

Judge Hidenobu Koike scored the match for Nagano, but judges Kenichi Serizawa and Masato Fukuda both had it for Mukai, who prevailed via Split Decision. The talented fighter continues to impress Deep Jewels fans with her formidable ground game.

“I was nervous,” Nagano admitted after the match, which was her first since retiring from competition more than two years ago. “After I got into the ring, I was able to enjoy the fight. Natsumi mostly has short fights, so I wanted to make it a longer one. After I gave birth, I developed a greater appreciation for fighting. People around me helped me and my baby to train. I want to compete in MMA again.”


Earlier on the card, atomweight contender Mina Kurobe (7-2-0) made quick work of the debuting Renju Date (0-1-0), who tried to brawl in the opening minute. Kurobe countered by taking her down into mount, and she rained down punches from the top until the fight was waved off at the 1:25 mark of round one.

Deep Jewels veteran Tomo Maesawa (6-5-0) picked up a first-round stoppage win over Karei Date (0-2-0) in a strawweight matchup. Karei began the fight with two Yellow Cards due to missing weight by 1.52kg, but that proved to be a non-factor. Maesawa caught a kick and took her down in the opening round. Karei tried to scramble and take Maesawa’s back, but Maesawa scored a second takedown that allowed her to pass to mount. She landed more than 15 unanswered punches to the face until the referee intervened to rescue Karei at the 2:30 mark of the opening round.

Yuko Kiryu (1-2-0) notched her first pro win by defeating Real Date (0-2-0) in a two-round atomweight bout. Kiryu landed front kicks and knees throughout the opening round. Real answered back with jab-cross combos and she finished the round by landing more punches in close. Kiryu pinned Real in a corner in round two and she eventually secured a takedown into side control. This allowed her to finish the fight strong by landing punches and hammerfists. Judges Masato Fukuda, Yoshinori Umeki and Hidenobu Koike all scored the fight for Kiryu, who took the Unanimous Decision win.

Opening up the card, 12-year-old Karen Date finished Ayumi Misaka very late in the second round of an amateur atomweight fight. Karen stuffed takedown attempts from Misaka and countered with front kicks and knees in the first round. She continued to fend off Misaka’s takedowns in round two and ultimately took Misaka’s back in a scramble. Karen first looked for a rear-naked choke, and then switched to a hammerlock. Misaka’s corner threw in the towel with four seconds remaining in the fight, giving Karen a technical submission victory at the 2:56 mark of round two.


Following the event, Deep Jewels boss Shigeru Saeki spoke with regarding the potential for a future bout between Ishioka and Kubota.

“Saori wants to face Rena, and Rena made a big impact when she fought on New Year’s Eve,” Saeki stated. “I think that Saori is no longer in her fighting prime, but today’s fight was fun and the venue filled up well. I would like to bring Rena’s NYE impact to Deep Jewels and I will work on negotiating that. Team Date still needs more experience, but Karen looked good in her fight.”

Full play-by-play for all bouts on today’s Deep Jewels 12 card can be found here.



(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)