(Roxanne Modafferi is one of the top 135-pound fighters in women’s MMA and a longstanding jackal / contributor. This Saturday wasn’t just about UFC 91 … there was also an all-womens’ card in Japan. Here’s Roxy’s breakdown of the event, plus photos from the event. The video at the bottom is the headlining bout of Megumi “Mega Megu” Fuji vs Tomoko Morii.)
Bolting out of work, I sprinted headlong to catch the express train to watch the new all-women’s promotion “Jewels.” One could say it’s the new updated version of Smack Girl, although they’re trying to ditch that name. Well, Valkyrie got Mr. Memo 8 from Smack, who went and implemented his “novice rules” on our cage fighting, (novices fight in a cage?!) and Jewels got Deep’s Saiki, who’s making statements about how it’s necessary for the headlining women to be beautiful for the audience.
As you can see on the brochure, it says, “Women’s Fighting Entertainment.” How was it, you ask? It was…well, women’s fighting entertainment.
Sakura got me a ticket, and I entered the cozy, crowded Shinjuku FACE venue that seats roughly 600 people. The multi-colored lights sparkled, the music was all bouncy and happy, everyone’s entrance was cutsie. It was, well….women’s fighting entertainment. I almost didn’t feel like I was watching MMA.
I turned to Sakura. “Is this what the Japanese really think of women’s MMA? Is this why “Memo 8″ Mr. Nagao made those novice rules for Cage Force, and why we have ‘no strikes to the face’ rules?”
“Hmm, well I think there are many people like this,” she replied, “But there are also hard-core fans, especially like Keishukai people, who yell “GET’EM, smash ‘em, rah rah rah!” and stuff. There’s no one like that here, is there?”
The gloves are really thick…maybe like 6 oz, and padded on the tops a lot. I walked away from Valkyrie without a scratch. And that’s the point. Especially for the “Jewel” fighters, it’s important not to damage their beautiful faces. Right? If you put on head-gear, they might as well be fighting amateur under those rules!
Now I’m not saying there’s not skill and experience. Don’t get me wrong. My friend Masako Yoshida is 14-13-5 (that’s 32 fights, folks!), and her opponent Misaki Takimoto (8-9-3), for example, is
The main event was the gorgeous Saori Ishioka (5-3) vs model-esque Mika Nagano (1-1). Ishioka won by decision. They both struck like grapplers trying to strike. The real stars did their work in under one minute. Megumi Fuji (16-0) fought a pro wrestler Tomoko Morii (debut) and arm-bared her in, well, okay, 1:05. Hitomi Akano (13-5) beat Hari (5-13) in 38 seconds by I forget, maybe an arm-bar. The ‘giant’ Hiroko (4-1) and Super Benkei (2-5) was actually a really good and serious fight. At one point, Benkei jumped on her back, but slid off around her legs, pinned against the ropes. Hiroko managed to turn around and armbar her, but they were both falling through the ropes so the ref had to restart them.
It was a really good show. If you wanted to see a show. And I don’t want to insult the fighters who train hard and seriously, because they get in the ring and do their thing. There was definitely excellent technique displayed. But it was a totally different feel from Cage Force Valkyrie….kind of a “but don’t worry, nobody’s going to get hurt” feeling. But Valkyrie is a story for another time!
Coming soon: part two… “The Ride of the Valkyries”
Megumi Fuji vs Tomoko Morii
Super Benki (in yellow) vs Giant Hiroko
Nagano (in pink) vs Ishioka