Rena Kubota Victorious At Rizin FF 24, Outlines Plan For RetirementThe win did not come easily, but Japanese star Rena Kubota rallied back from a shaky start to earn her third straight victory tonight at Rizin Fighting Federation 24 in Saitama, Japan. Kubota scored a hard-fought Unanimous Decision over former Deep Jewels champ Emi Tomimatsu in a 53kg bout.

Kubota, who has competed in combat sports since 2007, spoke backstage and outlined a plan to retire after 2-3 more fights. The 29-year-old, who won the Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup tournament four times prior to making a transition to MMA, also addressed challenges leading up to tonight’s bout.


Kubota (11-3-0) jabbed and looked to set up combinations throughout the opening two minutes as Tomimatsu (15-17-0) circled on the outside and threw occasional punches in return. Kubota landed a quick flurry and a knee, then backed Tomimatsu into a corner and threw punches to Tomimatsu’s body and head. Tomimatsu circled out and she used her jab to maintain distance, but Kubota cracked her with a three-punch combo late in the round.

Following an exchange of punches in round two, Tomimatsu clinched and took Kubota’s back in a corner. Kubota briefly looked for a kimura and turned into the clinch as Tomimatsu tried to sweep out her leg. She eventually got Kubota down and mounted her, then rained down punches. Kubota gave up her back and Tomimatsu secured a body triangle while she worked for a rear-naked choke. Kubota managed to spin into Tomimatsu’s guard and Tomimatsu quickly postured for an armbar. Kubota stood up and she jumped in with a stomp before the bell.

Tomimatsu attempted a takedown early in the final round and Kubota sprawled out below the ropes to defend. Tomimatsu landed knees to the body and head as Kubota rose to her feet in the corner. A big combination of punches to the liver and head scored for Kubota, which forced Tomimatsu to drop levels for a takedown. Kubota wound up on top and she landed knees and hammerfists before eyeing a kimura and an armbar. Tomimatsu countered with a head scissor and that prompted Kubota to stand up. Tomimatsu followed and she shot in unsuccessfully for a takedown. Kubota landed a combination and fought off another takedown, then jumped in with a final stomp before time expired.

Judges Kataoka, Matsumiya and Wada all scored the bout in favour of Kubota, who took the victory thanks to her strong rally in the final three minutes. The win was bittersweet for Kubota, who briefly addressed her fighting future in a post-fight speech and later spoke extensively backstage.

“I took this on short notice and I regret some parts of the fight, but I won against a long-time veteran in Emi and so I am glad about that,” Kubota stated backstage. “I wanted to win by stoppage, but I was concerned about Emi’s ground skills. I could not show my best tonight. Emi’s grappling prevented me from finishing her and I could not show off the lock [mounted kimura] that Ayaka [Hamasaki] taught me. My conditioning was not 100% tonight, but my heart and spirit are big and I showed that.”

Kubota then went on to discuss retirement plans and a hopeful rematch with Rizin FF Women’s Super Atomweight Champion Seo Hee Ham under MMA rules. Kubota defeated Ham in the pair’s first meeting during the semi-finals of the 2012 Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup tournament.

“I will retire after two or three more fights,” Kubota confirmed. “I want to fight Seo Hee Ham during my retirement road. At [Kubota’s gym] AACC, Miki Motono and Saori Oshima both became champions recently. My teammates create good vibes for me and I will try to remain involved in martial arts after I retire because I have been a part of them since I was 16 years old.”

“Her striking pressure was strong tonight and her striking level is different from other female fighters,” a disappointed Tomimatsu noted backstage when discussing her loss to Kubota. “The [higher] weight class was not expected. I have fought for a long time, but competing for Rizin made me feel that I have really become a professional fighter. I didn’t get COVID-19, but training during this time was much more challenging. I am getting old, but I will continue to train.”



(Photo Credit: Rizin Fighting Federation)