Tsuji Decisions Hajime at Valkyrie Premiere; Modafferi Victorious

By Tony Loiseleur Nov 8, 2008
TOKYO -- Yuka Tsuji bested V Hajime by unanimous decision in the main event at Valkyrie 1 on Saturday at the Differ Ariake Arena, as the former Smackgirl 115-pound champion extended her winning streak to 12 matches.

Tsuji’s bout with Hajime was her first in nearly a year and represented just the fourth time in 22 career matches she has been taken the distance.

From the opening bell, Hajime wanted to strike with Tsuji (21-1), as she threw low kicks and punches in an attempt to keep the Smackgirl champion at bay. While Hajime (3-2) stuffed an initial takedown and even landed some knees in the clinch, Tsuji would not be denied for long, as she bullied her way in for the inevitable takedown. From top position in half guard, Tsuji rained down hammer fists and punches until the horn sounded.

The second period provided much of the same, as Hajime looked to kick the legs out from under Tsuji or knee her in the clinch. Before long, Tsuji had the fight on the canvas again, stuffing her opponent against the fence and racking up the damage points with punches.

To her credit, Hajime kept Tsuji from passing to side control or mount in all three rounds, maintaining active hips and keeping her legs between herself and her opponent. Hajime’s downfall, however, was her inability to prevent Tsuji’s punches from landing. Tsuji’s confidence grew, and she threw caution to the wind, only to be threatened momentarily by a third-round armbar from Hajime. Tsuji shrugged off the submission attempt quickly, returned to punching and finished the round strong.

All three judges ruled in Tsuji’s favor. She was presented with a check for 50,000 yen, or approximately $500.

While Yasuko Tamada has rarely shown any stand-up genius, her length and height allowed her to land strikes against Naoko Omuro.

Omuro (8-7-3) loaded up for quick flurries and tight combinations, but Tamada remained out of range. Instead, Tamada landed push kicks and jabs, stuffed Omuro against the cage and delivered knees. Omuro’s balance and takedown defense prevented Tamada (8-4-3) from securing a takedown with an outside trip, but her inability to adjust for distance and land many significant shots cost her on at least one judge’s score card. The two remaining judges ruled the bout a draw.

Meanwhile, Tomomi Sunaba defeated the solid Emi Fujino in a three-round affair that saw both women push to impose their game plans.

While “Windy Tomomi” came to bang, Fujino (8-2) stuffed her long jab into the Pancrase fighter’s face before barreling her into the cage. That was the extent of Fujino’s offense, however, as Tomomi (12-8) foiled all takedown attempts against the cage and fought to create distance to strike. Slowly and with some patience, Tomomi opened an opportunities in the second and third rounds. She landed hard punches and push kicks that bloodied Fujino’s nose and earned her the points toward a unanimous decision.

In an effort to keep the gears moving after the disappointing cancellation of her American Fight League-sponsored Ironheart Crown bout against Tara Larosa, Roxanne Modafferi’s last-minute matchup with newcomer Chisa Yonezawa resulted in a handy unanimous decision for the Massachusetts transplant.

Modafferi (13-4) brought the fight to Yonezawa, put the Japanese fighter against the cage with flurries and followed by firing as many knees as she could string together against the fence. Yonezawa (0-1) fought to regain clinch control and landed the occasional shot with dirty boxing, but she could not stop the knees or the eventual outside trip for the takedown.

Though Yonezawa reversed Modafferi at the end of both rounds -- thanks to the American’s recklessness and failure to maintain her base while trying to pass -- Modafferi was quick to apply triangle choke and armbar attempts, kept her opponent on the run and racked up the points en route to a unanimous decision.

Meanwhile, Hiroshi Tsuruya product Madoka Ebihara neutralized Akiko Naito’s Thai boxing, quickly took her down and locked in a fight-ending armbar 2:45 into the first round. The loss was the third in four bouts for Naito (4-7). Ebihara (3-1) has won three straight.

Finally, Wajutsu Keishukai Tokyo’s Sakura Nakamura fought Mamiko Mizoguchi to a competitive unanimous draw, as the women neutralized each other standing and on the ground. The draw snapped a two-fight losing streak for Nakamura (2-3-1).
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