Ayaka Hamasaki (right) had too much for youngster Mizuki Inoue.
| Photo: Taro Irei
TOKYO -- In a clash between in-house titlists, Jewels
115-pound champion Ayaka
Hamasaki took a commanding decision over 2010 Rough Stone grand
prix winner Mizuki
Inoue on Sunday in the main event of Jewels “16th
Ring” at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring.
Taking advantage of the fact that a hesitant Inoue expected a
barrage of takedowns, the
Abe Ani Combat Club wrestler surprised by tempting fate to
trade punches early with the 17-year-old firebrand.
“I didn’t think I would have been able to strike with her,”
admitted Hamasaki, 29, post-fight. “She’s already a very good
striker herself, so I didn’t think that I would beat her that way.
I did intend to give her a few shots, of course, particularly when
my corner instructed me to, so I really only did it then.”
Hamasaki landed her fair share on the dangerous karateka before
putting Inoue on her back with a double-leg takedown. The ground
position would become a familiar one for both, as Hamasaki
constantly passed from half-guard or attacked with punches and
knees to the body from side-control. Full of youthful energy, Inoue
didn’t stay still on the bottom, bucking and squirming out of
optimal position any time Hamasaki began looking for submission
Inoue fared somewhat better in the latter half of the second and
final frame, mashing short punches, low kicks and knees into
Hamasaki from the clinch. However, it wasn’t long before Hamasaki
again put her on her back, finishing out the round on top in
half-guard while hunting for a keylock.
With two dominant rounds of grappling control, judges Moritaka
Oshiro, Akira Yamazaki and Tomoki Matsumiya unanimously ruled the
bout in favor of the 115-pound divisional champion.
“She’s quite strong,” said a humble Hamasaki. “She’s capable in all
areas, striking and grappling. I wanted to win by submission but I
just wasn’t able to with her.”
Kicking off Jewels’ inaugural 106-pound title tournament, Kikuyo
Ishikawa eliminated first and final Valkyrie 100-pound champ
Tamada from the running, securing Ishikawa’s berth in the
Both women started the bout sniping with jabs at range, but
Ishikawa had one distinct advantage: long-range, multi-level kicks
which mashed the Valkyrie champ from range. In time, Ishikawa’s
hands also proved superior, as she landed harder and more accurate
shots, wobbling Tamada with sharp counters in both five-minute
rounds. Tamada had several takedowns in the final frame, but they
couldn’t stack up to the damage piled upon her, thus prompting
judges Yamazaki, Oshiro and Matsumiya to give Ishikawa the nod.
Meeting Ishikawa in the Dec. 17 semifinals will be Naho
Sugiyama, who took a decision win over Ayumi Saito
in a close fight which pitted Sugiyama’s clinch and grappling work
against her opponent’s blistering punch combinations. “Edge” put a
number of stiff shots on Sugiyama’s face, changing things up with
digging hooks to the body and uppercuts in the second frame. “Sugi
Rock,” on the other hand, braved the fire to press Saito up against
the ropes, scoring occasional takedowns and briefly securing
dominant position before being stood up. This was apparently enough
to convince judges Yamazaki, Matsumiya and Oshiro to cast their
ballots in Sugiyama’s favor.
Sugiyama edged Saito.
On the other side of the bracket, Misaki
Takimoto’s superior striking saw her outpoint Miyoko
Kusaka, punching Takimoto’s ticket to the semis. Given Kusaka’s
rather one-dimensional tactic of pressing straight forward for
takedowns, Kusaka was left open to eating punch combinations
followed by head and body kicks. The karateka dropped Kusaka with a
stiff left hand in the second period for a knockdown count. Given
Takimoto’s superior control on the feet, judges Oshiro, Yamazaki
and Matsumiya unanimously voted for the Zendokai product.
Lastly, mini-wrecking ball Yukiko Seki
Yamamoto to lock her place across from Takimoto in the tourney
semifinals. Seki blazed forward with barrages of punches, looking
to overwhelm “Sachi,” who tried for takedowns to slow and control
the bout. Seki was indomitable however, reversing on the canvas to
take top position, bullying with punches to the body and to the
face when on the feet. Judges Oshiro, Matsumiya and Yamazaki also
unanimously cast their ballots for Seki.
After three and a half years away from MMA competition, Emi
Tomimatsu made a successful return by handling Team Hellboy
Haga played a conservative game, circling away while throwing
punches to keep her opponent at bay. Unmoved by Haga’s striking or
power during her more wild punches, Tomimatsu pushed forward to
bully in the clinch with knees and takedown attempts. By way of
this simple application of forward pressure, Tomimatsu took the
fight on judges Yamazaki, Oshiro and Serizawa’s cards, handing Haga
her fifth consecutive loss.
In a very competitive opening round, both Yuko Oya and
Naito traded dominant positions in full- and back-mount, with
neither woman being able to lock a submission or drop more than a
few perfunctory punches. The second frame was just as competitive,
but saw Oya edging “Betiko” in positional dominance on the canvas
-- not at all noticing the magnitude 3 tremor that jolted the venue
during the round -- allowing her to drop punches from mount and
side-control. Judges Yamazaki and Oshiro submitted scorecards for
“Amiba,” with judge Serizawa instead favoring Naito.
Oya and Naito went back and forth.
Returning from a successful March surgery to treat cervical cancer,
Tomita’s disciplined submission offense bested Anna Saito’s
wild punches, eventually putting the shorter fighter away by
technical submission in the first frame. Saito’s haymakers
connected on the defensively porous Tomita, but once Saito took the
fight to the ground, she put herself firmly in her opponent's
territory, having to escape triangle, guillotine and rear-naked
choke attempts. Referee Oshiro saved Saito from the subsequent
armbar however, stepping in at the 4:24 mark.
The win was an emotional one for AACC product Tomita, who expressed
tearful gratitude to her fans and parents for supporting her
through her bout with cancer.