Fujii-Tavares, Akano-Marquez Set for Smackgirl Finals

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Apr 25, 2008
TOKYO, April 25 -- Smackgirl's World Remix tournament moved ahead at Korakuen Hall on Friday, determining the final matchups for the yearlong 115-pound and open-weight fields.

Once again finishing in the first round, Megumi Fujii (Pictures) armbarred tough Korean muay Thai champ Seo Hee Ham (Pictures) in the main event of the 115-pound tournament.

With Ham the superior striker on paper, Fujii surprised by coming into the bout looking to stand with her opponent in the opening moments. Fujii scored several good shots, but Ham's pumping jabs and stiff left hooks soon became too close for comfort, prompting Fujii to switch tactics and shoot for the takedown.

Though foiled in her first two attempts, Fujii eventually took the fight to the ground after latching onto one of Ham's legs for a leglock. This eventually led her to taking the back mount and sinking a close rear-naked choke. Ham persevered, however, and escaped, but Fujii was quick to slap on the next sub: the fight-ending armbar for the tap at 1:39 in the first round.

"It's going to be real exciting to see who is left on July 24's card, so make sure to come out and see who that is," Fujii told the audience. "As for Ham, she's a really strong opponent, so it's great that I could get the win."

In victory, Fujii advanced to the finals to face the Nova Uniao female jiu-jitsu stalwart, Ana Michelle Tavares (Pictures).

"Tavares, who I've fought before, is also really, really strong," Fujii said. "So I think I want to return to training [to face her]."

Former Smackgirl 128-pound champ Hitomi Akano (Pictures) earned comeback of the night honors after the punishment she took at the hands of the heavier and vastly taller Hiroko. The ex-dominatrix-turned-Smackgirl-openweight-champ bullied Akano on the feet, punishing her in the corner for pulling guard with punches to the face and body.

Hiroko also easily fended off Akano's many armbar attempts by stacking and driving her weight down upon her, not allowing Akano to get full extension. However, through perseverance bordering on stubbornness, Akano was able to sink an armbar at 3:10 in the second for the submission victory.

"The main impression I had of Hiroko was her height," Akano told Sherdog.com after the bout. "She's big. She's really tall. Because of her height, I was really worried about knees. Also, she was very good with basic defense, as well."

Akano's next opponent in the open-weight tournament will be Ginele Marquez (Pictures).

"Like Hiroko, Ginele is a bit bigger than me," Akano remarked. "So if possible, I'd like to try and use my speed to outmaneuver her and win by submission."

Ana Michelle Tavares (Pictures) fought her way to a methodical decision in her 115-pound tournament bout. She controlled Lisa Ward (Pictures) in the clinch and on the canvas. Perhaps a consequence of Ward's moving up in weight, Tavares easily whipped her around in the clinch, took her down almost at will and was able to reverse whenever Ward scored takedowns of her own.

After two rounds, Tavares took a commanding 3-0 win on the scorecards and will advance to face Megumi Fujii (Pictures) in July's tournament finals.

Atsuko Emoto (Pictures) played mobile heavy bag to Ginele Marquez (Pictures) in their open-weight bout, absorbing a great deal of punishment from the CSW rep through two rounds. Barring an errant punch to the face of a downed Emoto -- earning her the instant yellow card -- Marquez had little trouble controlling the bout and piling up punches on her opponent.

Marquez also controlled the grappling portions with several takedowns -- including a front-lock suplex at the very end of round two. In the end, there was little question in the judges' minds to Marquez's dominance, allowing her to walk away with the unanimous decision.

"I promise to have a better suplex next time," commented Marquez to Sherdog.com. "This is just my warm up.

"I already knew coming in that Japanese fighters are really tough, and I didn't want the fight to go to a decision, but I guess I'm just glad that it was as bad a beatdown as it was. A ‘W' is a ‘W,' and now I'm ready to eat," said an exuberant Marquez.

Windy Tomomi (Pictures) and recent MMA convert Azuma came into their 119-pound catch-weight bout with no pretense of going to the ground, opting to see which girl was the better striker.

While Azuma had length on Tomomi, it was Tomomi who could fight in the clinch as well as string together more than one punch at a time. These advantages led to her shellacking Azuma in the corner for the standing count, followed by the inevitable knockout at 2:08 in the second period.

Circling with jabs, body punches and hard right low kicks to the legs of opponent Kanako Takeshita (Pictures), Rin Nakai (Pictures) took the split decision after two hard-fought rounds. Occasionally tagged on the feet by Takeshita's superior length, Nakai largely commanded the rest of the bout's standup with winging hooks and stiff rib roasting. Outside of being caught in a close armbar mid-round two, Nakai also arguably bested Takeshita on the mat, overall outworking her opponent to capture the win.

In the evening's lightweight prelim, Mika Nagano took the split decision over Asami Kodera.

In the middleweight prelims, Miki Morifuji defeated "Super" Benkei 2-1 on the scorecards, and Megu outgrappled Hitomi Sakamoto to a unanimous decision.
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