Nakai, Oshima & Higashi Victorious In Title Fights At Deep Jewels 37Rin Nakai continued her career resurgence with two victories in one day at Deep Jewels 37 today in Tokyo, Japan. Competing at the famed Korakuen Hall, Nakai defeated Tae “Te-a” Murayama and Shizuka Sugiyama in grand prix bouts to become the inaugural Deep Jewels Flyweight Champion.

Today’s Deep Jewels 37 card featured two additional title fights. Atomweight champion Saori Oshima made a successful defence against 17-year-old Moeri Suda, and Yoko Higashi became the first Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion by defeating “King” Reina Miura in their championship rematch.


Nakai (25-2-1) closed the distance and looked to get the fight with Sugiyama (21-7-1) to the mat early in the opening round, but Sugiyama created space and landed a nice body kick. Nakai was successful with her next takedown attempt, however, and she attacked with an armbar on the ground. Sugiyama defended and Nakai gave up on the armbar in favour of passing to mount. Sugiyama managed to get back to half-guard, but it was a brief victory. Nakai moved to side control and secured another armbar. She wrenched back on Sugiyama’s arm and referee Naoya Uematsu intervened for a technical submission stoppage at the 4:53 mark of round one.

The two Flyweight Grand Prix finalists had had very different paths to the championship final. Nakai dominated her semi-final matchup with Tae “Te-a” Murayama (2-2-0) earlier on today’s card, and ultimately scored a technical submission win due to an armbar at the 4:43 mark of round two. Sugiyama, meanwhile, had received a Bye to the final when opponent Aoi Kuriyama missed weight during yesterday’s weigh-ins.

“I won the belt by using what I had trained,” new champion Nakai stated backstage. “I trained to finish, but I only showed a very limited performance today. I felt pressure, and being in the first fight at the event made warming up difficult. I half-slept before the final and started to warm up during intermission.

“I was lucky to receive no damage in the first fight, and I don’t care that Sugiyama received a Bye,” Nakai added. “I felt determination from her. She is a veteran from my generation, but I am the top fighter in Japan and so we’re in different positions. I had an injury, so I did not strike much today and my performance was not good, but I want to get back in the UFC.”

Rin Nakai Backstage At Deep Jewels 37
New champion Rin Nakai backstage following her title win at Deep Jewels 37.


In the co-main event, Oshima (8-3-0) rebounded from her upset non-title loss to Namiko “Hime” Kawabata in March by finishing teen prospect Suda (5-3-0) within the first three minutes of their atomweight championship matchup.

It was Suda who struck first with a front kick that hurt Oshima, but the defending champion recovered and she took Suda down with an osoto gari throw. Oshima secured a kimura grip and she used it to set up a pass to side control. When Suda tried to escape to her feet, Oshima kept her pinned down and maintained her grip on the submission. She wrenched Suda’s arm behind her back with the kimura, prompting referee Masato Fukuda to wave off the fight at the 2:58 mark of the opening round.

“I’m relieved now,” Oshima said backstage following her win. “[Suda] is a high school girl, so my reputation could have suffered with a loss, but I was aware of that and it changed my mindset. My husband lost today in judo, so I was disappointed before my fight because his defeat caused him to retire and that will make him lose his position at his company. We may have to move out of Kanto [Tokyo region]…

“This was a title defence fight, and I was aware that it would be a challenge,” Oshima added after switching her focus back to her own fight today. “[Suda] hit me with a nice front kick, and she has good grappling defence. I lost to Hime [Namiko Kawabata] last time, and I received harsh words from many critics, but I am encouraged when I fight bigger people and so I want to show that at bigger events like Rizin. [Suda] had both hands clasped tight, so it was not easy to finish her, but continuing with the kimura was my best choice.”

Saori Oshima Backstage At Deep Jewels 37
Saori Oshima backstage following successful title defence at Deep Jewels 37.


Higashi (7-2-0) made it two-for-two against Miura (13-5-0) in their championship rematch today, as she once again bested Miura by Unanimous Decision.

Miura had her best success in the opening round, as she was able to fight off Higashi’s takedown attempts and countered with some solid knees in the clinch battles. Higashi took control of the fight in the subsequent rounds, however, and she was particularly effective with her ground and pound from back control in the second stanza. Miura tried to rally in round three, but Higashi avoided her charging punches and put Miura on the mat again late in the fight. The five judges scoring the bout returned scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-26 thrice; all in favour of Higashi, who has won three straight fights.

“I’m glad,” new champion Higashi said backstage. “I received advice about using more of a complete MMA style after only focusing on striking in my last fight [with Miura in June]. Today, I fought using takedown pressure and I am satisfied with it. I want to be able to compete for Rizin. I can make bantamweight, but my performance is better at featherweight. I train with big foreign boxers, so I am good at seeing a punch coming.”

Yoko Higashi Backstage At Deep Jewels 37
New champion Yoko Higashi backstage following her title win at Deep Jewels 37.


Earlier on the card, long-time Deep Jewels mainstay Mika “Future Princess” Nagano (17-12-1) spoiled the strawweight debut of popular prospect Kate “Lotus” Oyama (2-3-0) with a second-round guillotine choke. Oyama fared well in round one after taking Nagano’s back on the ground, where she landed punches to the side of Nagano’s head and trapped her in a body triangle. Nagano secured a standing guillotine choke early in round two, however, and she used it to pull Oyama down to the mat. Oyama had nowhere to go and tapped out at the 57-second mark of the second round.

In a 44.5kg microweight bout, Momoko Yamazaki (3-2-0) made a successful return to Deep Jewels following an 18-month absence, as she posted a clear-cut Unanimous Decision victory over Kyoka “Chibisai” Minagawa (0-3-0). Yamazaki reversed a Minagawa takedown in round one and punched from top position. She avoided a triangle choke attempt and punished Minagawa with knees in a clinch after the fighters rose to their feet. Yamazaki twice held mount in round two, and she threatened with a late arm-triangle choke, but Minagawa was able to get back to her feet. Scores were 20-17 across the board for Yamazaki, who has won two in a row.

Deep Jewels 37 began with an amateur flyweight prelim bout between Yuka Okutomi and Mana Akagi, with Okutomi taking a well-deserved Unanimous Decision win. Okutomi controlled both rounds on the ground, threatening with armbars and a rear-naked choke. Akagi escaped each time, but she was forced to play defence for most of the fight and that weighed heavily with the judges. Scores were 20-17 and 20-18 twice for Okutomi, who is 3-0 in amateur bouts under the Deep Jewels banner.


“It was a very wild tournament,” a fatigued Deep boss Shigeru Saeki said backstage following the event. “We lost two fights in the first round and one more today. I feel that one big event is done now, as Rin versus Shizuka was a big fight for the Japanese MMA scene. [Saori] Oshima had a great performance, and so did Yoko [Higashi], but Reina [Miura] was not aggressive enough. If there’s a chance for Rin [to fight abroad], I won’t stop her. We have contracts with many fighters, but won’t stop them from taking opportunities because we cannot pay as much.

“We need to bring in foreign fighters if Rin fights more for Deep Jewels,” Saeki added. “We hope Rin can compete in the UFC as a Deep Jewels representative. We did not strip [bantamweight champion] Ji Yeon Kim because there are no other title contenders at that weight in Deep Jewels. Rin is in a league of her own, but Shizuka’s participation made this tournament happen and so I thank her. We sold 1000 tickets for this card. There is a rumour about a Rizin super atomweight tournament, so that makes it difficult for us to create events and having another one here at Korakuen Hall would not be easy, but the next Deep Jewels event will be in September.”

Full play-by-play for the Deep Jewels 37 card can be found here.



(Top Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)