Kanna Asakura, Reina Miura Victorious In Deep Jewels 23 HeadlinersRecent Rizin Fighting Federation title challenger Kanna Asakura returned to the win column with a clear-cut and impressive Unanimous Decision victory tonight at Deep Jewels 23 in Tokyo, Japan. Asakura defeated Deep Jewels Atomweight Champion Tomo Maesawa in the non-title 49kg main event.

Asakura controlled most of the three-round matchup on the ground, where she kept Maesawa on the defensive with strikes from the top en route to a crucial rebound win. In the 68kg catchweight co-main event, popular star “King” Reina Miura needed just 25 seconds to knock out Mao Ueda.


Asakura (14-3-0) countered early right hands from Maesawa (12-9-0) with a leg kick and a takedown, but Maesawa used the base of the cage to work back to her feet. Asakura scored two more takedowns and landed some solid ground and pound, but Maesawa rose to her feet again and the fighters traded body kicks late in the round. Asakura used a double-leg takedown to get Maesawa back down in the second round, but Maesawa remained resilient and she ultimately escaped to her feet once more. It was Maesawa who then secured a trip takedown, which forced Asakura to scramble and get back up. The round ended with Asakura landing knees to Maesawa’s body.

Round three began with another takedown from Asakura, who peppered Maesawa with punches from top position. The fighters briefly exchanged leglock attempts and Asakura landed hammerfists until Maesawa stood up. Asakura used a slick takedown to get Maesawa down into back control, but Maesawa flipped her off and returned to her feet. Undeterred, Asakura scored another big takedown into mount and she landed punches and hammerfists from mount and side control until the end of the fight.

Scores were 30-36 and 30-27 twice for Asakura, who took the much-needed Unanimous Decision victory following her disappointing submission loss to Ayaka Hamasaki in their Rizin FF title fight on New Year’s Eve. The 21-year-old Asakura has won nine of her past ten fights.

“I wanted to get a submission, but the fight went how I’d imagined,” Asakura stated backstage after the fight. “I trained with Tomo in the past, so I had mixed feelings, but in the fight I had a cool mind. If I lose [fights] continuously, everything that I had achieved will completely collapse, so I thought of myself as the challenger tonight and I’m relieved. [Hiromasa] Ogikubo’s corner advice taught me well, as did [Hiroshi] Tsuruya’s. Korakuen Hall is a famous venue and many of my mentors were nervous about fighting here. I was nervous, too.”


Miura (11-2-0) and Ueda (0-1-0) brawled early in their co-main event matchup, but Miura’s punches were faster and they landed at a greater volume. Ueda was forced to retreat back against the cage and Miura sent her careening to the canvas with a final salvo of left and right hands for a quick and emphatic knockout victory at the 25-second mark of round one. Miura has now won four of her past five fights, with the lone blemish during that time coming against Kaitlin Young at Rizin FF 12 in August.

“[Rizin FF President Nobuyuki] Sakakibara was surprised by how I won tonight, so I’m glad,” Miura commented backstage. “I trained my grappling in the United States, but my [punching] combinations worked. My corner told me my straight punches worked well.”


Undefeated flyweight rising star Kana Watanabe (6-0-1) picked up another convincing victory tonight with a first-round TKO against South Korean newcomer Soo Min Kang (0-1-0). Watanabe set up an early harai goshi throw with a leg kick, but Kang battled back to her feet and pressed forward with looping punches. Watanabe used her jab to stay out of Kang’s range and eventually used another harai goshi to take Kang down. From a top-side crucifix, Watanabe landed numerous unanswered punches and hammerfists to Kang’s face until the fight was stopped at the 4:33 mark of round one.

In atomweight action, former Jewels champion Emi Tomimatsu (14-14-0) rebounded from a two-fight losing skid with a second-round submission win over prospect Hikaru Aono (3-2-0), who started strong with two takedowns early in round one. Tomimatsu countered with a triangle choke attempt from the bottom, but Aono kept the pressure on and she took Tomimatsu down two more times before the bell. Aono secured another takedown in round two, but Tomimatsu stood again and countered with a kimura that she used to drag Aono down to the mat. Tomimatsu landed punches from the top and locked on a rear-naked choke that forced Aono to submit at the 4:46 mark of round two.

Standout striker Suwanan “Pocket Rocket” Boonsorn (3-1-0) once again showcased her ground skills as she picked up a quick submission victory over Emi Sato (4-3-0) in another atomweight bout. Following an exchange of body kicks, Boonsorn threw Sato to the mat. Sato gave up her back as Boonsorn battered her with punches, and Boonsorn quickly secured a rear-naked choke for the tapout win at the 34-second mark of the opening round.


Earlier on the card, Yukari Nabe (6-3-1) posted a second-round submission win over Sachiko Fujimori (4-5-0) in 55kg catchweight action. Fujimori flurried with punches early on and the fighters traded takedowns and ground and pound. Nabe countered Fujimori’s punches with a double-leg takedown in the second stanza and she looked to set up an arm-triangle choke from the top. When Fujimori gave up her back, Nabe switched to a rear-naked choke and Fujimori tapped out at the 2:42 mark of round two.

Also at 55kg, Asami “Akaringo” Nakai (2-1-0) upset veteran grappler Yuko “Amiba” Oya (9-7-0). Nakai stuffed Oya’s early takedown attempts and attempted a rear-naked choke and a triangle choke on the ground. In the second round, Nakai landed some nice fight hands on the feet and she repeatedly thwarted Oya’s attempts to take the fight to the mat. Nakai threatened with a standing guillotine choke late in the fight and took Oya down, but Oya countered with an armbar before the bell. Scores were 20-18 across the board for Nakai, who took the Unanimous Decision win.

In minimumweight action, long-time MMA veteran and former Invicta FC title challenger Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada (16-10-3) returned to action for the first time since September 2015 and posted a dominant Unanimous Decision victory over Madoka “Madeline” Ishibashi (1-4-0). Following a takedown from Ishibashi, Tamada reversed position into back control and she hunted for rear-naked chokes throughout the opening round. In round two, Ishibashi reversed a takedown into top position, but she spent the majority of the round fending off Tamada’s triangle choke and armbar attempts from the bottom. Scores were 20-17 and 20-18 twice for Tamada, who cruised to a well-deserved decision win.

Hard-hitting prospect Ai Shimizu (2-0-0) earned another stoppage win with a first-round TKO triumph over Sae Kokuho (0-1-0) in a 49kg matchup. Shimizu dropped Kokuho in the opening minute with a jab-cross combination and she followed with punches and hammerfists on the ground until the brief fight was waved off at the 1:08 mark of the first round.


On the preliminary card, Kotori Tamiya (1-0-0) eked out a narrow Majority Decision win over Mizuki “Nisse” Oshiro (0-1-0) at minimumweight. It was Oshiro who controlled most of round one from top position after reversing a throw. She struck from the top in side control and later spent most of the round punching from Tamiya’s full guard. Tamiya rallied back in round by countering Oshiro’s takedowns with a back-take. She blasted Oshiro with hammerfists, then switched to a triangle choke and punched Oshiro’s face until the end of the fight. OIne judge had the fight even at 19-19, while the remaining two both saw it 20-18 for Tamiya.

The event opened with an amateur flyweight bout between Mikiko Shimizu and Shoko Fujita. Shimizu landed punches early on and she countered clinch knees from Fujita with a takedown into mount. She struck from the top and threatened Fujita with a triangle choke late in the round. Shimizu started strong with another flurry of punches in round two before throwing Fujita down to the mat. She moved from side control to mount and spent the remainder of the round striking from top position. Scores were 20-18 thrice for Shimizu, who took the Unanimous Decision victory.

“All-day events are tough,” Deep boss Shigeru Saeki noted backstage regarding tonight’s combination Deep: 88 Impact and Deep Jewels 23 show. “Today is sold out. We’ll take [Deep Jewels] back to Shinjuku FACE, but we may have another event at Korakuen Hall this year. We will also mix some women’s bouts in on Deep cards.”

Full play-by-play for all bouts on tonight’s Deep Jewels 23 card can be found here.



(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)