Tsuji Avenges Defeat as Typhoon Bears Down on Japan

By Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez Sep 6, 2007
TOKYO, Japan, Sept. 6 -- In spite of an oncoming typhoon, diehard female mixed martial arts fans filled the Japanese fight Mecca of Korakuen Hall this evening to bear witness to some of Japan's best in feminine fisticuffs for Smack Girl's latest installment, "The Queens' Hottest Summer."

In the main event, 115-pound Smack Girl-anointed "Queen of Vale Tudo" Yuka Tsuji (Pictures) took on the only woman to defeat her in Brazil's Michelli Tavares.

Meeting with a fair bit of resistance in the form of winging right hooks from the Brazilian, Tsuji played it safe, keeping her distance outside of Tavares' range while wary of takedown attempts.

With the onus on her to engage, Tavares closed the distance off of a combination to clinch with Tsuji, soon after taking the Japanese fighter to the floor where from half-guard she set up an arm-triangle before attempting to pass. Upon transitioning, Tsuji immediately reversed her way into Tavares' guard, where she remained until they stood.

The return to standing didn't last long as Tavares caught a leg off of a middle kick for the takedown, bringing the fight back to her realm once more. From bottom, Tsuji brought up her left leg to go for the rubber guard, but a well-versed Tavares stood up out of the attempt and delivered resounding leg kicks to her downed opponent.

Tsuji's victory was at hand shortly after being stood up by the ref in the form of a well-placed right "Superman" punch that put the Brazilian down on her posterior, almost blasting her free of consciousness.

Still visibly woozy upon responding to the 8-count, Tsuji could smell blood and charged forth with an endless flurry that Tavares, who submitted the Japanese fighter in 2003, could not defend.

After a barrage of punches, referee Wada once again stepped in to give the count. Out on her feet, Tavares collapsed into him, forcing an end to the bout at 4:47 in the first round.

In the evening's middleweight championship bout, Takayo Hashi (Pictures) wrested the title from the defending Hitomi Akano (Pictures), taking the decision 3-0 after three rounds of stand-up domination and ring control.

Akano's title defense looked to be an uphill affair from the outset, as Smack Girl's dubious 30-second time limit for ground fighting forced her to relinquish many toe-hold attempts throughout the duration of the bout, bringing the fight back to standing where it favored the tenacious and strike-happy Hashi.

Controlling the center of the ring and giving Akano little room to breathe with her overwhelming flurries and kicks, Akano took a great deal of punishment pursuing the takedown and subsequent submission attempt, in turn earning Hashi the nod from all three of the judges.

Further proving that women can bang, Hiroko captured the Smack Girl open-weight title from defending champion Yoko Takahashi (Pictures) in an exciting three-round slugfest. Despite Takahashi's good head movement, which she used to slip most of the punches from the taller, longer Hiroko, her myriad hooks from out and under Hiroko's defenses did little to stop her opponent's dangerously powerful punches.

Despite landing more shots and being otherwise technically better on the feet, the Hiroko punches that did land on the defending champion did considerably more damage than Takahashi's offensive offerings. Rocked, bloodied, and otherwise far worse for wear than her opponent, the judges were left to deem the bout unanimously in favor of the challenger, Hiroko.

Su Hi Ham (Pictures) made a triumphant Smack Girl debut against mainstay "Edge" Ayumi Saito (Pictures) in an almost embarrassingly one-sided shellacking of the promotion's fan favorite.

Edge was unable to defend against Ham's striking barrages in spite of the best advice of her cornerman, Shinya Aoki (Pictures), who has had his share of encounters as a pure grappler against dangerous strikers. As such, Saito fell victim to left straights to the face, which Ham executed with frequency and scored at will.

Saito found as well that she could not escape on the mat either, as her futile takedown and submission attempts were met with vicious hammer fists and hooks from the top. Although Ham was yellow carded by a lapse in judgment when the Korean fighter punched her opponent to the face while on the ground, all three judges still scored the bout in her favor for the unanimous decision victory.

Slugging and bomb lobbing was the order of the day in Emi Fujino (Pictures) and Yukiko Seki (Pictures)'s bout, as both women took it to each other in wild, unruly exchanges that favored the taller, rangier Fujino. Despite Seki acquiring frequent double-leg takedowns, it was Fujino that largely controlled the ground fighting, almost locking on an omoplata in the first. Given the nearly one-sided top game of Fujino's, and the concession of multiple takedowns, the judges ruled the bout unanimously for Fujino.

Relative Smack Girl newcomer Saori Ishioka took a unanimous decision over Japanese women's MMA workhorse Masako Yoshida (Pictures) after two rounds of excellent counterpunching and grappling control.

Yoshida, unable to bang out the more technically savvy Ishioka, attempted in vain to take the fight to the floor and attain leg-lock submissions. Ishioka, in response, switched strategies in those moments and pounded from the top with hammer punches, also relying on the dubious ground time limit to bring the fight back to standing. After two rounds of domination, the judges ruled the bout unanimously in favor of Ishioka, giving Yoshida her seventh straight loss.

As the first emissary of Australia's XPLOSION MMA and Muay Thai promotion, "Asha the Basha" Asha Ingeneri met with disappointment early on in her MMA debut against Paraestra Ehime's Rin Nakai (Pictures). Opening the bout with several straight body punches to Nakai's mid-section, it appeared as if Ingeneri was looking to sap the energy from her opponent. Nakai had different plans, as a quick judo toss put her in perfect position to armbar the Australian for the fast victory at 1:03 of the first.

In the lightweight Next Cinderella Tournament final, V Hijame took the hard-earned split decision win after two rounds over Emi Tomimatsu (Pictures). Initially looking to bang out her opponent, Tomimatsu was taken by surprise by V Hajime's retaliation of strikes of her own, eventually forcing Tomimatsu to change tactics and shoot for the takedown off of her opponent's punishing counters. With both women bringing the fury in the clinch with dirty boxing and knee exchanges, the deciding factor came down to V Hajime's superior ground skills, sprawling and controlling her opponent for the few moments it hit the floor.

Maho Muranami (Pictures) took a one-sided unanimous division over Wakako Sunayama (Pictures) in the flyweight Next Cinderella Tournament final, pounding out her hapless opponent throughout two rounds of vicious punch combos and middle kicks. Punched silly by Muranami, Wakako fought the remainder of the match in a dazed state, unable to attain a more advantageous position when taking it to the canvas, as Muranami continued the pugilistic assault on the ground as well.
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