Yoko Higashi, Miki Motono Win Featured Bouts At Deep Jewels 39Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion Yoko Higashi extended her winning streak to four today at Deep Jewels 39 in Tokyo, Japan. Higashi battered Titapa “Diamond Rose The Rocket” Junsookplung on the ground en route to a dominant third-round TKO stoppage in their bantamweight main event.

In the Deep Jewels 39 co-feature, former strawweight champ Miki Motono took a hard-fought Unanimous Decision victory over grappling ace Moeri Suda. Motono has now won three straight fights since she dropped her title, and she expressed her desire to advance on to compete for the UFC.


Higashi (8-2-0) took Junsookplung (0-2-0) down in the early stages of their fight, but Junsookplung’s defence in round one was solid and she tied up Higashi’s arm in order to prevent her from landing anything significant on the ground. Higashi eventually landed some ground and pound before moving to North-South position, where she was illegally upkicked and Junsookplung was warned for the infraction. Back on the feet, Higashi countered a one-two from Junsookplung with a takedown.

The remainder of the fight was much more lopsided in Higashi’s favour. She used a harai goshi throw to get Junsookplung down in round two, then moved to a top-side crucifix and spent several minutes punching Junsookplung’s face while also working for a keylock. Junsookplung made it out of the round, but Higashi took her right back down in round three and went back to the top-side crucifix. She landed numerous punches to Junsookplung’s face until referee Naoya Uematsu stopped the fight at the 2:12 mark of round three.

“Thanks for coming out on this rainy day,” Higashi said to the fans in attendance immediately following her win. “I didn’t have a finish in Deep Jewels before, and couldn’t get this finish easily, but thank you to Deep even though I was not confident as a main eventer. I want to speak in English and to fight in a foreign country. I’m 36 now, but isn’t that cool? Age is just a number. Thank you!

“I wanted to strike and pound, which I learned while in the United States,” Higashi added backstage. “[Junsookplung] has nice grappling defence. I thought Motono vs Suda would be the main, but if I was to be in the main event then I wanted to satisfy the audience. I’ve learned MMA’s striking and how to use strikes to set up takedowns. I trained in the States and got better training with them than I thought. So I want to go back there, and I want to fight for PFL. They do not have my weight class there yet, but I want to fight Kayla [Harrison] and I will move up in weight if I need to.”


Motono (8-3-0) battled back and forth with Suda (7-4-0) on the ground before ultimately winning a narrow decision win over the 18-year-old standout in their 49kg super atomweight matchup.

In the first round, Motono countered two leg kicks from Suda by taking her down, but Suda was very active off of her back and attempted a triangle choke and an armbar. The fighters stood and Suda landed a head kick and a backfist that briefly knocked Motono down. Suda took Motono down in round two, but Motono reversed position and Suda again hunted for an armbar from the bottom. Motono stood over Suda and punched her in the body. Back on the feet, kicks were briefly exchanged before Motono took Suda down again. She landed punches and fought off more armbar and triangle chokes from Suda.

Motono opened the final round with a takedown and she landed some decent strikes from top position. Suda continued to try to secure an armbar, but Motono passed to side control and landed hammerfists. Late in the fight, Motono landed more punches from the top and Suda tried for a final armbar.

The strong final round for Motono was just enough to edge out a win in her favour. Judges Shibata and Hashimoto both scored the fight 29-28 for Motono, while judge Toyonaga had it even at 28-28 and awarded his Must Decision to Motono for a close but Unanimous Decision victory.

“I couldn’t get a finish today, which I regret,” Motono expressed backstage following the win. “I spent too much time in [Suda’s] grappling positions and so I need to work on that. I relied on my physical power, but against foreign fighters there would be no opportunity to do that. Even though I didn’t get a finish, I was calm today and so I don’t view it as all bad. [Teammate] Saori [Oshima] praised me at Rizin, and I’m really glad for that. I need to train more because I want to go to the UFC and face that level of contenders. I want to go there as a strawweight.”


Returning from a six-year hiatus from Deep Jewels, recent Pancrase title challenger Nori (5-5-1) took a contentious Split Decision victory over Mikiko “Mikko Nirvana” Shimizu (3-3-0) in theirflyweight bout.

Shimizu tied Nori up in a clinch early in the fight, where she kneed Nori’s legs until referee Masato Fukuda called for a break. Shimizu scored a takedown and punched from the top while Nori attempted to secure a heel hook. Shimizu escaped and she landed more punches before the end of the round.

The second round began with Nori landing a roundhouse kick. Shimizu took her down into half-guard and Nori held on to a guillotine choke from the bottom. She maintained the choke, which was more of a headlock to control Shimizu’s ability to move, for most of the round. Shimizu punched to the body and eventually passed to side control. Late in the round, she moved to mount and time expired soon after.

Judge Shibata strangely scored the fight 20-18 for Nori, giving her both rounds. Judge Toyonaga had it 19-19 and awarded his Must Decision to Shimizu. Judge Hashimoto also saw the fight even at 19-19 and he awarded his Must Decision to Nori for a close Split Decision win that seemed like it could have gone in Shimizu’s favour.

“I’m glad to be back here [in Deep Jewels] as a Pancrase representative,” Nori said backstage. “I need to train more in order to prepare against Deep Jewels talent. [Shimizu] had good striking and grappling, but I prepared for her and I landed a good strike that may have been evaluated highly. Deep Jewels has a large number of fighters and I am glad that I received such a warm welcome.”

Deep Jewels 39 Competitors
The Deep Jewels 39 competitors gather following the event.


In flyweight action, Aoi Kuriyama (4-4-1) evened her record with a clear Unanimous Decision victory over Shoko Fujita (2-3-0). Kuriyama landed leg and body kicks in round one, then dropped Fujita with a right cross. Fujita stood and Kuriyama backed her up with left and right hooks, then opened a cut below Fujita’s eye with a hard jab. Fujita struggled with her range in round two as Kuriyama landed jab after jab and evaded Fujita’s strike attempts. Fujita finally landed a front kick, which Kuriyama countered with a left hook and a jumping knee to the body. Scores were 20-17 and 20-18 twice for Kuriyama, who left no doubt in the judges’ minds.

Arisa Matsuda (2-0-0) scored a big victory in her second pro fight by upsetting long-time Jewels and Deep Jewels veteran Mika “Future Princess” Nagano (18-13-1) at strawweight. Matsuda sprawled out of an early takedown attempt and landed hammerfists to Nagano’s head, but Nagano did get her down. Matsuda stood over Nagano and kicked at her legs. When Nagano stood, Matsuda took her back and Nagano used a rolling kimura attempt to get the fight back down to the mat. Matsuda fought off another Nagano takedown attempt with hammerfists in round two, and Nagano pulled guard. Matsuda punched from the top until a stalemate brought the fight back to the feet. Matsuda sprawled out of a takedown attempt from Nagano and blasted her with more hammerfists. The bout went to the scorecards and Matsuda took a Unanimous Decision with scores of 20-17 and 20-18 twice.

Also at 115 pounds, highly-touted Machi Fukuda (1-0-0) made a successful pro debut by defeating the much more experienced Mika “Arami” Arai (6-7-0). Fukuda secured an early takedown into back control and looked for a rear-naked choke until Arai turned over and took top position. Fukuda swept and avoided a heel hook from Arai, and she took her back in a standing clinch after the fighters rose to their feet. Fukuda tripped Arai twice and closed out the round with punches to the side of her head. After a takedown from Fukuda in round two, Arai got back to her feet against the cage and used a kimura to pull Fukuda down to the mat. Fukuda freed her arm and stood up. After one more scramble, Arai took top position on the ground and Fukuda attempted a triangle choke. All three judges scored the fight 20-18 for the winner by Unanimous Decision, Fukuda.

At bantamweight, Marina Kumagai (3-4-0) notched her third straight win by outpointing Chieko Hosoya (1-1-0). Kumagai landed early jabs and reversed a clinch against the cage, where she landed knees to Hosoya’s body. Eventually, Hosoya tripped Kumagai to the mat and she held her down in the final minute. Kumagai scored with more jabs in round two and fought off a takedown attempt with a knee to Hosoya’s head. Hosoya still took her down and passed to side control. Kumagai scrambled out from the bottom and stood up, and she crucially reversed a final takedown attempt from Hosoya that allowed Kumagai to finish the round on top while landing punches. Judges Nagase and Fukuda both scored the fight 20-18, while judge Hashimoto had it even at 19-19 and awarded his Must Decision to Kumagai for a competitive Unanimous Decision win.

Yurina Horiguchi (2-3-0) made quick work of Sayaka “Juicy” Hishinuma (0-3-0) in their bantamweight contest. Horiguchi countered a takedown attempt from Hishinuma with a standing kumura, which caused Hishinuma to lose her balance and fall. Horiguchi cranked on the kimura and referee Naoya Uematsu waved off the fight at the 1:05 mark, giving Horiguchi a quick technical submission win.

Opening up the professional portion of the card, Hitomi Taniyama (1-0-0) finished Mana Akagi (0-1-0) with a first-round rear-naked choke in their 54kg matchup. Akagi used a kesa-gatame throw to get Taniyama down early on, but Taniyama worked back to her feet and secured a takedown into back control. She punched the sides of Akagi’s head and locked on a rear-naked choke. Akagi tried unsuccessfully to roll and escape, but she could not do so and referee Tatsuro Nagase. The official time of the technical submission stoppage came at the 3:40 mark of round one.

Yuka Okutomi used her superior ground control to take a clear Unanimous Decision victory over Haruka “Boss” Suzuki in their amateur flyweight bout. Okutomi landed punches to the body and threatened with a keylock in round one, then mounted Suzuki and attempted an armbar and an omoplata in round two. Scores were 20-18 across the board for Okutomi.

In the first amateur bout on the card, Miyu Tsunoda defeated Karin Horii at strawweight. Horii pursued takedowns throughout the two-round fight, but she was never able to get Tsunoda down and Tsunoda held an edge in the striking with leg kicks and punches to the body during prolonged clinches. Those strikes proved to make a difference, as Tsunoda won a Unanimous Decision with scores of 20-18 thrice.


“I can see our young talent’s improvements,” Deep boss Shigeru Saeki noted following the event. “[Machi] Fukuda and [Arisa] Matsuda have talent, and Matsuda is a former pro baseball player. In the main event, [Yoko] Higashi got a finish, but Diamond Rose is one class lower and so I must consider that, too. [Moeri] Suda showed good grappling against [Miki] Motono and she knew her positions well.

“Si Woo Park vs Seika Izawa is on New Year’s Eve, so Deep Jewels is taking over in Rizin,” Saeki added. “Next year depends on Izawa, Park, [Saori] Oshima and Rizin talent. I want to send more new talent to Rizin. Last year, Izawa and Park weren’t big names yet, but now they are. Next year, Deep Jewels begins in February and we plan for four Deep Jewels events. Japanese fighters will also have a chance to compete internationally since travel restrictions are no longer so strict.”

Full play-by-play for the Deep Jewels 39 card can be found here.