Rin Nakai, Shizuka Sugiyama Win Flyweight GP Bouts At Deep Jewels 36Former Pancrase champion Rin Nakai took one step closer to capturing another title with a second-round stoppage victory tonight at Deep Jewels 36 in Tokyo, Japan. Nakai finished Shoko Fujita in the main event and now advances to semi-final round of the Deep Jewels Flyweight Grand Prix.

In another GP quarterfinal matchup tonight, Deep Jewels mainstay Shizuka Sugiyama held off a late rally from Mikiko “Mikko Nirvana” Shimizu to take a narrow Split Decision victory. Deep Jewels Atomweight Champion Saori Oshima was upset by Namiko “Hime” Kawabata in a non-title 49kg bout.

 

Nakai (23-2-1) held a decisive edge in the striking exchanges during round one against Fujita (2-2-), who struggled to land anything significant as Nakai repeatedly scored with punching combinations to her head and body. When Fujita switched tactics and began to throw kicks, Nakai secured a clinch and took her to the mat, and Nakai spent the remainder of the round punching Fujita’s body.

The second round was more of the same, with Nakai once again controlling the boxing exchanges, until Fujita threw a body kick. Nakai caught her leg and took her down, then passed to side control and then to mount. Fujita ttied to buck and escape, but Nakai held her in place with her shoulder and punched the side of Fujita’s head. Fujita briefly scrambled back to half-guard, only for Nakai to take mount again. This time, she rained down heavier punches, and she continued to land strikes until referee Naoya Uematsu intervened at the 4:38 mark of round two.

“It was my plan to finish the fight,” Nakai stated backstage following her win. “I practised my striking against a striker [Fujita]. I expected that she would kick more, but she boxed. It was a natural transition from striking to grappling, and then to the finishing sequence. I feel the same will happen no matter whom I meet in the semi-finals. We have limited fight time [preparation] where I’m from in Shikoku, so my fight had practice involved. I could have finished it earlier if I had chosen to take it to the ground.”

 

Sugiyama (21-6-1), meanwhile, had a more challenging path to get to the semi-finals and had to survive a late armbar from Shimizu (3-2-0) in order to eke out a win.

The opening round was dominated by Sugiyama, who scored an early takedown and spent most of the round striking with punches and hammerfists from the top while Shimizu tried in vain to tie up her arm. Round two saw Sugiyama punch her way free from a standing kimura attempt, and she reversed a Shimizu takedown into top position. Sugiyama once again punched from the top until Shimizu trapped her in an armbar. For more than 30 seconds, Sugiyama held on, and she refused to submit when asked by referee Masato Fukuda. Time expired and the bout went to the scorecards.

As it was a grand prix bout, five judges were scoring the Sugiyama-Shimizu contest, and they returned five different scorecards. Two had it even at 19-19 and 18-18, respectively, with both awarding Must Decisions to Shimizu. The remaining three sided with Sugiyama, with scores of 20-17, 19-18 and 19-19 [Must Decision: Sugiyama]), awarding her with a close Split Decision win.

“I feel like I lost,” Sugiyama admitted backstage. “The fight showed reasons why I need to improve. I didn’t feel pain during the armbar, so maybe it was not applied perfectly. Also, [Shimizu] may have lost strength at the end of the fight. My teammate, Shoko [Fujita], showed a lot of heart in her fight today. I can’t do this type of fight again in the semi-finals, and I feel mixed emotions about the decision. I felt I must win, but that late-fight impression is big. I want my love for Deep Jewels to be clear when I leave the cage.”

 

The remaining two Flyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal bouts that were scheduled to take place on tonight’s card were both cancelled prior to the event. Aoi Kuriyama received a Bye to the next round when opponent Hanako Sawa withdrew due to medical reasons earlier this month. Likewise, Tae “Te-a” Murayama also received a Bye to the semi-final round when her opponent, Kano Kagaya, was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

In the featured non-tournament bout on tonight’s card, Kawabata (3-1-0) scored a major upset against Oshima (7-3-0) in their 49kg matchup. Kawabata used her reach advantage to strike while staying outside of Oshima’s range in the opening round. When Oshima did get the fight to the ground, Kawabata fought off an armbar attempt and later countered with a triangle choke of her own. Oshima alleviated pressure by keeping her other arm in to prevent Kawabata from tightening the choke, but that did not stop Kawabata from attacking with hammerfists from the bottom until the bell.

Oshima again struggled to find her range in round two and she eventually resorted to chasing after Kawabata, but that only led to Oshima slipping and falling. When she stood back up, Kawabata stunned her with a hard jab and fought off a takedown attempt. Oshima was able to take Kawabata’s back in a standing clinch, but she could do nothing with it and time expired. Scores were 20-17 and 20-18 twice for Kawabata, who rebounded from her first pro loss in December with a huge win tonight.

“I suffered my first loss [at Deep Jewels 35], so I really wanted a win this time,” Kawabata said backstage. “Saori is scary when it comes to grappling. She has a great finishing ability there. My plan was to sprawl and land strikes. I hit her early on and that made me confident. I want to compete for Rizin. Saori was already there, so I want to as well.”

 

Former Deep Jewels Strawweight Champion Miki Motono (7-3-0), who handed Kawabata her lone defeat in December, scored a quick win in her 49kg matchup tonight. Motono finished Mizuki “Nisse” Oshiro (4-5-0) with an armbar late in the first round.

Motono struck first with a leg kick and a combination, and she countered a front kick from Oshiro by shooting in for a takedown. Oshiro stayed on her feet and Motono landed a hard knee to the body. She got Oshiro down to the mat and attacked with punches to both sides of her head from back control. Motono then transitioned to an armbar and referee Naoya Uematsu waved off the fight, giving Motono a Technical Submission victory at the 4:18 mark of round one.

 

One of the brightest prospects on the Deep Jewels roster, 17-year-old Moeri Suda (5-2-0), extended her winning streak to five with what was clearly her biggest victory to date. Facing former two-time Deep Jewels title challenger Hikaru Aono (8-6-0), Suda finished tonight’s 49kg fight with a first-round armbar and then requested an atomweight title shot.

After Aono lost her balance and fell during an early exchange, Suda took her back on the ground. Aono shook her off and held top position, but Suda effectively used butterfly guard to prevent Aono from passing or doing much of anything. From the bottom, Suda attempted armbars before switching to a triangle choke. She kept Aono’s head trapped between her legs while punching her from the bottom. Suda then transitioned back to a final armbar, which was tight, and referee Minoru Toyonaga waved off the fight at the 3:36 mark of round one.

“I wanted more of an [all-around] MMA fight, but I had good grappling today and so I’m satisfied,” Suda commented backstage. “I have confidence in my training. When I started MMA, I and the people around me all wanted me to win a title while I’m still in high school. I have some methods for setting up the armbar and that worked today.”

 

Earlier on the card, Yuko Kiryu (11-8-0) spoiled the MMA return of Sadae “Manhoef” Numata (5-3-1) by taking a Split Decision win in their 49kg contest. Kiryu scored two takedowns in the opening round and she landed some solid ground and pound before Numata kicked her off. Numata stuffed a takedown later in the round and tried for a rear-naked choke after taking Kiryu’s back. In round two, Kiryu dragged Numata down and hunted for a rear-naked choke. Numata rose to her feet, only to be taken down again, but this time she countered with a triangle choke. Kiryu freed her neck and punched from top position until Numata battled back to her feet. Late in the round, reversed a takedown and pinned Kiryu down in a top-side crucifix. Judge Hashimoto scored the fight even at 19-19 and awarded his Must Decision to Numata, but judges Okada and Fukuda both had it 20-18 for Kiryu.

Halting a three-fight losing skid, Mizuki Furuse (8-9-0) bounced back with a quick win tonight. The 21-year-old forced Reina Kobayashi (1-2-0) to tap out to an armbar in their 44.5 microweight bout. Koboyashi tried to take the fight to the ground early on, but Furuse defended well and she ultimately scored a takedown of her own. Kobayashi gave up her back and Furuse wasted no time in locking on a rear-naked choke, forcing Kobayashi to tap out at the 2:11 mark of the opening round.

In a 54kg amateur kickboxing match with 90-second rounds, Saki Nakamura finished Rajina Bista with a knee to the body just before the final bell. Nakamura backed Bista up with a knee in the opening round that allowed her to swarm on Bista with punches until the bell. In round two, Nakamura overcame Bista’s jab and landed combinations before hurting her with a hard knee to the body. Referee Minoru Toyonaga waved off the fight, giving Nakamura a last-second TKO win at the 1:30 mark of round two.

 

“We lost three of our planned fights today, but we had good finishes,” Deep boss Shigeru Saeki stated backstage following the event. “We had good tournament fights. I feel that [Mizuki] Nisse [Oshiro] and Saori [Oshima] are finding it harder in the heavier [49kg] division. Because of Rizin, they chose to move up [from 48kg]. If that armbar by Mikiko [Shimizu] had been in a lower-tier fight, I think the referee would have stopped it, but it was a higher-tier fight and women have flexible joints.

“I will think about Moeri Suda’s title fight,” Saeki added. “Kate ‘Lotus’ [Oyama] will fight at the next Korakuen Hall event, and I also want [Suwanan] ‘Amp The Rocket’ [Boonsorn] to compete in May. I can’t blame fighters for the fight cancellations tonight because it’s due to COVID-19.”

Full play-by-play for the Deep Jewels 36 card can be found here.

 

 

(Photo Credit: Deep Jewels)

  1. […] ago when she picked up a first-round technical submission stoppage against Aono, and she publicly requested an atomweight title shot following her victory. Suda’s wish has been granted, and the talented young grappler has an […]