On Feb. 23, the UFC showcased its first female fight. This past Saturday night at UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle, history was made again when the UFC promoted two women’s bouts on one card. Bantamweights Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche and Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie were both victorious in televised matchups.
Carmouche (9-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) unsuccessfully challenged for the UFC women’s bantamweight title in the company’s inaugural female fight at UFC 157. She had planned to get right back into championship contention by defeating former Strikeforce champ Miesha “Cupcake” Tate in a featured bout on the UFC on FOX 8 card. However, when unbeaten title contender “Alpha” Cat Zingano suffered a knee injury in late May, Tate was recruited to coach on “The Ultimate Fighter 18? opposite UFC champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Carmouche was then matched up against 21-year-old UFC newcomer Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (9-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who had won seven of her previous eight bouts.
Carmouche and Andrade kicked off Saturday’s FOX-televised main card. Carmouche scored two takedowns in the early stages of Round 1, but Andrade worked back to her feet against the cage. She elevated Carmouche over her head and slammed her down to the mat, and punched from the top and pulled guard with her signature guillotine choke. Carmouche defended until the bell, but Andrade’s prolonged submission attempt appeared to be enough to win her the close round on the scorecards.
Round 2 was a completely different story. Carmouche opened the action with an emphatic takedown and quickly moved to mount. For the next three minutes, the former U.S. Marine battered Andrade with punches and elbows from mount and back control. Andrade refused to give up, but Carmouche’s ground and pound was too much for the Brazilian, and referee Herb Dean intervened for the TKO stoppage at the 3:57 mark of the second round.
The bout between Carmouche and Andrade was well-received by UFC President Dana White, who spoke highly of Carmouche’s performance. The win moves Carmouche one step closer to a second shot at Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight title.
Earlier in the night, de Randamie (4-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and veteran contender Julie “Fireball” Kedzie (16-12 MMA, 0-1 UFC) faced off on the FX-televised preliminary card. The fight wasn’t as action-packed as the Carmouche-Andrade matchup, but de Randamie put forth a disciplined effort that earned her a well-deserved split-decision victory.
Round 1 was primarily contested in the clinch against the cage, where de Randamie scored with numerous knees to the thighs and midsection. The fighters eventually were separated, and Kedzie caught a kick. She tried for a takedown, but de Randamie stayed on her feet and landed more knees in the final minute.
De Randamie countered combinations with overhand rights in Round 2. Kedzie secured a takedown and worked from de Randamie’s half-guard, but she was unable to pass to mount, and de Randamie defended well from the bottom. Kedzie opened Round 3 with a nice combination. De Randamie tied her up against the cage and landed more knees. As time ticked down, Kedzie scored a takedown, but de Randamie was active with strikes from the bottom.
One judge rewarded Kedzie for her late-fight takedown and scored the close bout 29-28 in her favor. The two remaining judges disagreed and returned scores of 30-27 and 29-28 for de Randamie, who earned her biggest MMA win to date in her return to bantamweight.
Nunes vs. Gaff up next at UFC 163 on Saturday
Fans won’t have to wait long to see women compete again inside the UFC octagon. On Saturday Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (7-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her UFC debut against Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff (10-5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a striker vs. striker matchup at “UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie.” The pay-per-view event takes place at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
Nunes burst onto the international scene in January 2011 when she knocked out featherweight Julia “The Jewel” Budd in just 14 seconds at Strikeforce Challengers 13. The 25-year-old has struggled since then, however, and is 1-2 in her past three fights. In July 2012, Nunes made her Invicta FC debut and picked up a quick win over Raquel “Rocky” Pa’aluhi. She returned to the promotion in January and suffered a one-sided decision loss to Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio, who dominated the fight on the mat.
Against Gaff, Nunes faces an opponent with a similar style who also possesses big knockout power. Gaff has also spent time competing at higher weights, but she had her greatest success during a three-fight stint as a flyweight that yielded three first-round knockout wins. Gaff moved up to 135 pounds for her UFC debut in April, but Olympic silver medalist wrestler Sara McMann stopped her in the final minute of Round 1.
Nunes and Gaff now have a lot to prove on Saturday in what could potentially be a must-win situation for both. The hard-hitting strikers have each scored six knockout wins to date.
The UFC 163 preliminary card, featuring Nunes vs. Gaff, airs live on FX.
Holm scores highlight-reel KO win at Legacy FC 21
Former top-ranked boxing champion Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (4-0) kept her unbeaten MMA record intact with another stoppage win earlier this month. Holm knocked out Allanna “Hands of Stone” Jones (2-3) with a devastating head kick at Legacy FC 21 on July 19 in Houston.
The southpaw Holm started off slowly in Round 1 and countered jabs from Jones with straight lefts and body kicks. She kept Jones on the defensive by landing more kicks and lead right hooks. Holm’s right eye began to swell shut after she was inadvertently poked in the eye, but she continued to control the striking exchanges until the end of the round.
Holm picked up the pace in Round 2 and landed combinations of quick punches and body kicks. She went high with a head kick, but Jones got her hand up in time and blocked it. Seconds later, though, Holm threw a second head kick that landed cleanly. A barely conscious Jones crashed to the mat, and the fight was stopped at the 2:22 mark of Round 2.
Although she is best known for her formidable boxing skills, kicks have played a key part in all four of Holm’s MMA wins. She has finished each of her opponents to date. The bout with Jones was Holm’s first since she officially retired from boxing in order to pursue a full-time MMA career.
Brown upsets Ishikawa at Pancrase 250
New Mexico native Amber “The Bully” Brown (3-1) bounced back from a loss in her short-notice Pancrase debut with a huge win on Sunday. Brown returned to the Japanese promotion and submitted top atomweight contender Kikuyo Ishikawa (9-4) with a third-round armbar at “Pancrase 250: 2013 Neo-Blood Tournament Finals” in Tokyo.
Ishikawa pressed the action with straight right hands that caused Brown’s left eye to swell and turn red in Round 1. Brown responded with knees in the clinch, but Ishikawa continued to score with right crosses in the final minute. In Pancrase, open scoring is used, and the judges’ tallies are revealed at the end of each round. Ishikawa took Round 1 on two scorecards. A third judge saw the round even.
In Round 2, Brown backed Ishikawa into a corner and landed more knees. Ishikawa’s right eyelid began to swell badly from the force of the knee strikes, but she kept the round close by landing right crosses and leg kicks. She used a Kosoto gari throw to take down Brown and into mount, but time expired before she could lock on an armbar. One judge scored the round for Ishikawa, another had it for Brown, and the final judge ruled it a draw.
While most fights in Japan are contested using two five-minute rounds – for both men and women – Pancrase has adopted a format with three five-minute rounds for many of its female fights in order to be more in line with international promotions such as Invicta FC. That protocol proved to be a key factor on Sunday as Brown came back to win in the final round.
Ishikawa scored a takedown early, but Brown countered with a guillotine choke. Ishikawa escaped the hold and landed punches from the top, but Brown made a slick transition to an armbar from the bottom. She pulled back on Ishikawa’s arm, and Ishikawa tapped out for the first time in her career at the 3:27 mark of Round 3.
Prior to the loss, Ishikawa had won seven of her previous eight fights against many of the top atomweights in Japan. Her lone defeat since March 2010 came via split decision against former Jewels champion Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama. Brown has finished two of her three opponents this year. The 24-year-old’s only loss came at 115 pounds in May when she stepped in as a late replacement against veteran contender Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino at Pancrase 247.
Eight bouts set for Deep Jewels 1 in August
The all-female “Deep Jewels” division of the long-running Deep promotion stages its first event on Aug. 31 in Tokyo. Deep Jewels 1 currently features eight MMA bouts, including a featherweight (106-pound/48-kilogram) title eliminator between Celine Haga and Sadae “Manhoef” Numata.
Haga (5-11) sports a record that falls well below .500, but the Norwegian fighter is currently in the midst of an impressive four-fight winning streak that includes a key victory over ex-Jewels champ Naho Sugiyama in March. She has shown tremendous improvement over the past year and now finds herself one win away from a shot at the Deep Jewels women’s featherweight title. The belt is held by South Korean standout Seo Hee Ham, who became the final Jewels featherweight queen champion on May 25. Ham’s title has carried over into Deep Jewels.
Numata (4-1-1) remains relatively unknown on the international scene. After a modest 2-1-1 start to her MMA career, she earned notable wins in both of her fights in 2012. At “Jewels: 19th Ring,” Numata posted a unanimous-decision victory over Sachiko “Sachi” Yamamoto. She most recently submitted teen prospect Shino VanHoose with a second-round kneebar at Pancrase Progress Tour 12 in November.
Former top Jewels star Mika “Future Princess” Nagano (13-8) makes her Deep debut against Akiko “Betiko” Naito (6-12) in Naito’s retirement bout. Nagano has won five of her past six fights and will likely earn a spot in the inaugural Deep Jewels lightweight (114-pound/52-kilogram) tournament with a victory next month. Naito returns to action after a two-year hiatus and competes for the final time following a 10-year career.
In other MMA bouts on the card, Emi “Kamikaze” Angel” Fujino (12-6) faces Hyo Kyung Song (0-2), Yasuko “Ikuko” Tamada (14-8-3) takes on Yukiko Seki (11-22) for a third time, Satomi Takano (2-1) battles Masako Yoshida (16-18-5), Yuko “Amiba” Oya (5-3) returns to face Yasuko “Pink Spider” Mogi (3-8), and Takumi Umehara (1-1) squares off against Megumi Sugimoto (0-0). All fights will be contested under “Deep Jewels official rules,” which permit full ground and pound. An eighth bout between newcomers Sachiko Fujimori (0-0) and Sumire Takahashi (0-0) will be contested using the former Jewels rules, which restrict strikes to the face on the ground.
Invicta FC 6 winner Mizuki Inoue faces highly touted Rikako Yuasa in a grappling match at Deep Jewels 1. Four weeks earlier, on Aug. 3, Inoue looks to become a two-time Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup champion at 53.5 kilograms when she enters this year’s Girls S-Cup tournament.
Shizuka Sugiyama (10-3) def. Chisa Yonezawa (1-6) via TKO (punches) at the 1:16 mark of Round 1 at “Deep: Tokyo Impact – Lightweight GP 2013 Semifinal” on July 20 in Tokyo. Sugiyama backed Yonezawa into a corner early in the fight and scored a takedown straight into mount. She rained down dozens of punches from the top until the brief bout was stopped. Sugiyama has won four fights in a row including three straight TKO stoppages.
Mylla “Souza” Torres (3-3) def. Camila “Camilinha Pitbull” Lima (6-4) via KO (punch) at the 19-second mark of Round 1 at “Circuito Talent de MMA: Etapa Indaiatuba 2013? on July 20 in Indaiatuba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Torres sent Lima careening to the canvas with a vicious right hook in the opening seconds for a quick upset win. Lima had won six straight fights prior to the loss.
Sarah “Too Sweet” Alpar (4-2) def. Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (2-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at “King of the Cage: Heated Fury” on July 20 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Alpar was competing for the first time since she lost her KOTC 125-pound women’s title in October. The 22-year-old Texan handed Lybarger her first pro defeat in the three-round battle.
Elizabeth Phillips (1-1) def. Stevie “The Ninja” VanAssche (0-1) via TKO (punches) in Round 3 at Conquest of the Cage 13 on July 20 in Airway Heights, Wash. Phillips earned her first pro win after dropping her debut to current Invicta FC standout Miriam Nakamoto in September. She went 3-1-1 as an amateur prior to turning pro.
Alida Gray (2-0) def. Jessica Armstrong-Kennett (0-3) via TKO (punches and elbows) in Round 2 at “Rocktagon MMA 28: Journey of Champions” on July 26 in El Paso, Texas. Gray has earned second-round stoppage wins in both of her pro fights. She upset Bellator veteran Patricia Vidonic in a Sugar Creek Showdown title fight on June 1.
On the same Rocktagon MMA 28 card, Stacey Sigala (1-0) def. Jazmin Quezada (1-3) via unanimous decision. Sigala followed up on a 3-1 stint as an amateur by making a successful pro debut with the lopsided victory.
Livia Renata “Livinha” Souza (2-0) def. Aline Sattelmayer (2-3) via submission (heel hook) at the 24-second mark of Round 1 at X-Fight MMA 6 on July 27 in Matao, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Souza has secured quick first-round submission wins in both of her pro fights this year. She looks to make it three-for-three when she competes again on Aug. 9.
Jinh Yu (2-0) def. Darla “Train Wreck” Harris (3-3) via KO (head kick and punch) in Round 1 at “Sugar Creek Showdown 18: Declaration of Pain” on July 27 in Hinton, Okla. Yu successfully retained her SCS women’s atomweight title with the knockout win. She captured the inaugural championship by submitting Meghan Wright in April.
Rhiannon “The Tornado” Thompson (3-0) faces Kenani Mangakahia (0-0) at FightWorld Cup 15 on Aug. 3 in Nerang, Queensland, Australia. Thompson has finished all three of her professional opponents, and she holds a head-kick KO win over Invicta FC contender Bec Hyatt. Mangakahia secured a 32-second submission win at FightWorld Cup 14 and makes her pro debut.
L.J. Adams (1-1) faces Kerry “Rocksteady” Hughes (0-0) at Ultimate Challenge MMA 35 on Aug. 3 in London. Adams looks to return to her winning ways after suffering a decision loss in March. Hughes makes her pro debut following a 3-0 run as an amateur. She most recently captured the British Challenge MMA women’s bantamweight title on May 11.
Kailin Curran (1-0) faces Emi Tomimatsu (5-6) at Pacific Xtreme Combat 38 on Aug. 9 in Mangilao, Guam. Curran earned a unanimous-decision win over Invicta FC veteran Kaiyana Rain in PXC’s first women’s bout on March 8. The Hawaiian recently relocated to California and now trains alongside some of the sport’s top fighters at Reign MMA. Tomimatsu competes outside of Japan for the first time when she makes her PXC debut. She was on the brink of Jewels title contention this past year before suffering close losses to Mei Yamaguchi and Mika Nagano.
Livia Renata “Livinha” Souza (2-0) faces Andressa “Meg” Araujo Rocha (3-0) at Predador Fight Championship 24 on Aug. 9 in Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Both fighters have been very impressive in their fights to date, and neither one has seen Round 2 as a pro. Souza is coming off of a 24-second submission win this past weekend. Rocha picked up her third professional victory in June.
Aline Sattelmayer (2-3) faces Juliana “Bombeira” Galindo (1-1) at “Coyotes Fight Night 1: Openweight is Back” on Aug. 10 in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sattelmayer opened her pro career with back-to-back wins, but she has since suffered three straight defeats against tough opponents. Galindo competes for the first time since March 2011 when she earned a unanimous decision win.
Kinberly Novaes (6-2) faces Jessica Suelen (0-2) at Nitrix Champion Fight 15 on Aug. 10 in Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Novaes won the Nitrix 121-pound women’s title this past August. She dropped down to 115 pounds to compete in the MMA Super Heroes women’s strawweight grand prix earlier this month, but suffered a third-round submission loss to Herica Tiburcio. The defeat halted Novaes’ six-fight winning streak. Her Nitrix title will not be on the line in the 115-pound bout with Suelen, who steps in on short notice in place of Ariane Fajoli.
MMAjunkie.com publishes the Women’s MMA Report every other Monday. Its author, Robert Sargent, is a veteran MMA journalist who also runs MMARising.com. Feel free to email us at news [AT] mmajunkie.com with any questions, news tips or suggestions.