(weigh-in, Kate left, Producer Mogi center, Tsuji right)
Saturday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn to help build the Cage Force cage. The lady’s “Valkyrie” would run from about 2 to 4:30, and then the man’s “Cage Force” would be from 6 to 9. At around noon, the lady fighters for Valkyrie showed up, and I met Kate Martinez, and her trainer/husband. They reported minimum jet-lag and enthusiasm for her upcoming fight in the main event against Angura dojo’s Yuka “Vale tudo Queen” Tsuji (22-1).
At 28 years old, Kate has had one official Pro MMA fight. However, according to her, she has fought more but under Colorado rules which weren’t officially considered pro even though rules were pro. She owns her own martial arts academy, is a blue-belt, trains with Royce Gracie, and has a kickboxing title. She brought the belt to take pictures with.
Apparently, there’s this “safety rule” where fighters have to weigh in a second time the morning of the fight. They are allowed to be 5 kilograms (11 lbs) over their contract weight, but no more.
She hung tough in the beginning, catching Tsuji with a good punch, but Tsuji switched gears and took her down and GnP-ing. They were stood up only to have Tsuji duck under a punch and take her down, having her way on the ground and making Kate tap at 4:20 in round 1. Tsuji won the new shiny Valkyrie belt and became the first featherweight champion. Kate did look a little green on the ground in the MMA game, but I’m sure she’ll train hard and come back stronger.
It was a good night for Keishukai girls, as Mizuho Sato arm-barred Masae Mori in the first round. Naoko Omuro TKO-ed Sachiko Yamanoto in RD1, and upcoming international star Takayo Hashi (who defeated Bodog fighter Amanda Buckner in Fatal Femmes Fighting 4, April 2008) choked out tough karate vet-turned-MMA fighter Chisa Yonezawa. Also, veterane BODOG fighter Windy Tomomi lost to talented Kyoko Takabayashi by choke in the first round, and V Hajime (Megumi Yamaguchi) displayed an interesting strategy of baseball slides towards Emi Fujino to avoid her admittedly better striking power. Fujino was suckered in, and was man-handled on the ground, losing a decision.
All in all, the fights looked good. I didn’t feel like the cage was cushioned with feathers and pillows, and no sparkles and streamers were thrown in. The level of women’s MMA has definitely gone up, and the fights were good. Although Kate and Yonezawa were both drastically outmatched by their opponents, they put up a good fight. Only Fujino and V Hajime went the distance, making it a rather short event with 6 fights on the card.
About two hours later, Cage Force 10 began. On my way to a cafe with friends, I was cornered and asked to help translate for the main event fighter, Marcus Donahue, while the other English-speaking guy was running around. The men were having the rule meeting, so I went to say hello, and the first thing he asked me was, “Can I eat?” “Gee, I dunno,” I answered, so I asked a ref standing near by. He told me to ask someone else, so I ran around asking people. It was then I found out that he hadn’t made weight the previous night or that morning, and people were trying to negotiate something.
I ended up being messenger girl and fetching people. But the last thing I wanted to do was get involved in some weight-negotiations, so I left that up to his Japanese wife to sort out, and made my escape. Turns out that Kuniyoshi Hironaka (the opponent) had to cut 37 lbs and felt like crap anyway, and then to have the opponent miss weight by 4 kilos (8 lbs), his camp said screw it, and refused to fight. My teammate Motoki Miyazawa became the main event, and submitted Hiroki Nagaoka with a rear-naked choke in the first round. He had a cool omoplata going for a while.
It was tough watching Valkyrie because I wished I could have fought, but it was not to be. But I’m happy other ladies got a chance to get in the cage like professionals. Congrats to all who fought.
(note: in the pic, tsuji is white shorts…duh it’s written on them, lol)