Cindy Dandois, Kana Watanabe Victorious At Rizin FF World GP 2017UFC and Invicta FC veteran Cindy “Battlecat” Dandois picked up one of her biggest career victories tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation World Grand Prix 2017: 2nd Round in Saitama, Japan. Dandois edged out previously undefeated rising star “King” Reina Miura in featured lightweight action.

Dandois was not the only judoka who secured a key win tonight. Skilled prospect Kana Watanabe scored her second victory in 26 days with a Unanimous Decision verdict over Deep Jewels contender Shizuka Sugiyama in a flyweight bout. All four fighters discussed their performances backstage.


Right hands were exchanged right away and Dandois (10-3-0) secured a headlock throw from the clinch. She landed ground strikes and worked for a rear-naked choke, and kept Miura (7-1-0) trapped in a body triangle until the final 15 seconds when she spun into an armbar attempt. Miura scored with overhand rights in round two that snapped Dandois’s head back. She cracked Dandois with another right hand and threw her to the mat. From side control, Miura avoided Dandois’s inverted triangle choke attempts and used knees to Dandois’s face to set up a keylock late in the round.

The final round began with Miura taking Dandois down into the scarf hold position against the ropes. Dandois escaped to her feet and fought off a takedown attempt, but Miura rocked her with a flurry of punches. Dandois recovered and shot in with a takedown soon after. Miura kicked her off and stood up, but Dandois took her back down and she postured up with short punches from Miura’s half-guard until the final bell.

One judge scored the close fight in favour of Miura, but the remaining two both sided with Dandois, who took a Split Decision victory. She credited her coaches and training partners for helping her to prepare for the tough fight.

“I’m happy but jetlagged,” Dandois stated backstage. “I won the first round, she won the second and my wrestling won me the third round. I really appreciate Rizin. If I receive another offer from Rizin, I will fight anyone including Gabi [Garcia]. I’m thankful to Miesha [Tate] and Gina [Carano] and everyone at Xtreme Couture. I dedicate this win to Robert Follis, who passed away. I go back to my teaching job next week.

“[Miura] hit me hard, but I’m OK,” Dandois added. “I prepared for war. I’m good at judo and wrestling, and I showed that in the third round. She tried to stop me with a kimura, but I had no fear of getting submitted and its purpose was solely to maintain positon.”

“I’m filled with regret,” a dejected Miura said backstage. “I thought I won the fight. I hit her many times, but her leg reach was longer than I had thought. I want to fight again ASAP because I regret this loss. When I had the kimura, I thought to myself that she was not the type of fighter who would tap and so I thought that I needed to strike instead to win the fight.”


Watanabe (2-0-0) scored with an early right cross and she took Sugiyama’s (15-5-1) back on the feet after briefly tripping her to the mat. Sugiyama turned into the clinch and landed a hard right hand, but Watanabe latched on to her leg and fired off a combination. The fighters separated briefly, but Watanabe secured a quick throw into top position and she transitioned to a rear-naked choke. Sugiyama defended well and scrambled free to her feet, where she landed short knees to Watanabe’s body in a clinch.

The second round began with Watanabe taking Sugiyama down against the ropes. Sugiyama escaped and took Watanabe’s back, which allowed her to land elbows to the body. She hunted for a modified rear-naked choke from a crucifix position, but Watanabe scrambled and got back to her feet. Sugiyama landed a series of knees to Watanabe’s ribs and she followed with body kicks, and two hard right hands landed for Sugiyama shortly before the bell.

Watanabe used a headlock to drag Sugiyama to the ground in side control early in round three. She struck from the top as Sugiyama looked to buck her off and escape. Watanabe passed to mount and peppered Sugiyama with short right hands while isolating Sugiyama’s left arm. She used ground and pound to set up a quick armbar that had Sugiyama in trouble, but Sugiyama defended with stomps and soccer kicks until Watanabe released her grip. Watanabe wrenched back on Sugiyama’s arm one more time before the end of the fight.

All three judges scored the fight in favour of Watanabe, who kept her perfect professional record intact with the Unanimous Decision win.

“I’m thankful for such an opportunity,” Watanabe remarked backstage. “I have lot of regret about the fight. I need more experience and I could feel Shizuka’s experience tonight. My rear-naked choke couldn’t get a finish, but my main goal was to finish by armbar and she defended well. I wanted to be more aggressive, but she hit me well with strikes and stopped me from controlling the pace of the fight.

“I wanted to dictate the pace of the fight to set up better throw situations,” Watanabe added. “That’s unfortunate that I could not since I am a judo fighter and I am so proud to wear my gi during my entrance. [Sugiyama] hit me in the body, and it hurts but not too badly. [Shigeru] Saeki said that he will treat me to Yakiniku (grilled meat) and I am looking forward to it. If I get another call from Rizin, I would like to participate ASAP. To the audience, please remember my name.”

“I thought I won the first two rounds,” Sugiyama said backstage. “I regret the third round. I thought I won in striking and stamina, but my loss of positon was critical. I had planned to better my career after this fight with a win, and I feel so desperate now. I spent time without my son, and if I lose a fight it portrays me as if I just don’t care about my boy. I need to feel the support from people around me and I must be more eager to win.”

A planned grudge match bout between Gabi Garcia and Shinobu Kandori was scrapped on the day of the event when Garcia missed weight by 26 pounds during the previous day’s weigh-ins.



(Photo Credit: UFC)