Mika Nagano, Mina Kurobe Earn Key Wins At Deep Jewels 13Competing for the first time in nearly three years, top Deep Jewels star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano made a successful return to MMA competition tonight at Deep Jewels 13 in Tokyo, Japan. Nagano rallied from the brink of defeat and finished Sachiko Fujimori in the strawweight main event.

Nagano, who took a lengthy hiatus from fighting after giving birth to her first child, got off to a rocky start against Fujimori but battled back to secure a come-from-behind victory. In tonight’s atomweight co-feature, Mina Kurobe eked out a contentious Unanimous Decision win over Tomo Maesawa.


Nagano (15-9-0) scored an early takedown into mount that allowed her to threaten with an armbar, but Fujimori (4-2-0) swept into top position and rained down hammerfists from side control. Nagano looked to get back to her feet, and she repeatedly tried to take Fujimori down, but Fujimori hurt her with hammerfists and Nagano was forced to fall to her back. This allowed Fujimori to close out the round strong with more hammerfist strikes.

In round two, Nagano countered Fujimori’s punches by taking her down, and she struck from top position. Fujimori framed up a triangle choke from the bottom and targeted Nagano’s face with hard hammerfists. Fujimori kept Nagano trapped in the choke, but Nagano held on and made it to the bell.

Knowing that she was way behind on the scorecards, Nagano took Fujimori down in the final round and avoided a guillotine choke attempt on the mat. From the top, Nagano spun into an armbar and she bent Fujimori’s arm back at an awkward angle. Fujimori was unable to escape and referee Masato Fukuda stepped in for a technical submission stoppage at the 2:34 mark of round three.

Tonight’s victory was a crucial one for the returning Nagano, but she was self-critical of her performance and feels that she still has a long way to go before she will be back in title contention once again.

“Sachiko is a really tough fighter, and I almost gave up in the fight, but because of your cheering I was able to win,” Nagano stated while addressing the crowd post-fight. “If this had been a two-round fight, I would have lost,” she added backstage. “I tried to take top position throughout the fight. Title-wise, I’m not yet physically ready. I need to continue to rebuild. Sachiko is a lot better physically, and I need to get back to my level of conditioning that I had before giving birth.”


In a potential atomweight title eliminator, Kurobe (8-2-0) narrowly outpointed Maesawa (6-6-0) in a competitive rematch that Maesawa appeared to have won with takedowns and superior striking.

Maesawa established her jab early on, which allowed her to keep Kurobe at bay. Kurobe eventually clinched and landed some nice knees, but Maesawa answered back with two takedowns and more stiff jabs in the striking exchanges. Maesawa secured another key takedown in round two, and she took Kurobe’s back after the fight returned to the feet, but Kurobe punched her way free from the clinch. The fight ended with Maesawa landing more jabs and she looked to have picked up her biggest win to date.

The judges disagreed, however, and awarded Kurobe with a Unanimous Decision victory. She previously submitted Maesawa very early in the pair’s first meeting at Jewels: “23rd Ring” in March 2013.


Highly-touted teen prospect Kanna Asakura (5-1-0) made a successful Deep Jewels debut by defeating Yoon Ha Hong (0-2-0) in an atomweight bout. Asakura completely dominated the fight from start to finish with takedowns and ground and pound. She took Hong down numerous times in round two and prevented her from mounting any offence. All three judges scored the one-sided fight for Asakura, who took home a well-deserved Unanimous Decision win.

German veteran Tanja Hoffmann (6-4-0) continued her streak of victories with a convincing Unanimous Decision win over Daiichi “Leader” Date (0-1-0) at strawweight. Hoffmann used punches to fight off Daiichi’s early clinch attempts, and she took Daiichi down into mount soon after. Hoffmann landed hard punches and threatened with an armbar, and she finished the round with hammerfists. Daiichi reversed a throw in round two, but Hoffmann was very active off of her back and she attempted armbars and leglocks. The judges were united and all three scored the fight in Hoffmann’s favour.

Pan “Kai” Hui (3-1-0) earned her second straight victory by defeating Yuko Kiryu in atomweight action. Hui dropped Kiryu with a left cross in round one and she mixed up her strikes well with left-right combos in the second stanza. Kiryu rallied back with a series of hard left hands late in the fight, but it was not enough to steal a win and Hui was declared the winner by Unanimous Decision.

Opening up the MMA portion of the card, Yukari Nabe (1-0-0) used takedowns and ground and pound to defeat Nao Date (0-1-0) at flyweight. Nabe secured an uchi mata throw into mount in round one, which allowed her to score with numerous punches from the top. Nao was active with leglock attempts, but Nabe punished her with hammerfists to the face. Nabe controlled round two on the mat after scoring more takedowns, and she closed out the fight by targeting Nao’s body with elbows. The bout went to the scorecards and Nabe earned a Unanimous Decision victory.

Tonight’s event also featured a 50kg kickboxing match between Eriko Nagata and Real Date, which ended in a narrow Majority Decision win for Nagata. The close first round was predominantly contested in the clinch and Nagata landed short right hands in close. She picked up the pace with flurries of punches and knees in round two, and Real’s late-fight barrage of wild hooks was not enough to secure a victory. Judge Kenichi Serizawa scored the fight even, while judges Masato Fukuda and Hidenobu Koike both had it for Nagata.

Full play-by-play for all bouts on tonight’s Deep Jewels 13 card can be found here.



(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)