Ham Returns to Winner’s Circle at Jewels ‘Fifth Ring’

By Tony Loiseleur Sep 13, 2009
TOKYO -- More than a year after she lost to Megumi Fujii in the ill-fated Smackgirl “World Remix 2008” tournament, Seo Hee Ham returned to Japan and took a well-earned unanimous decision over mixed martial arts ironwoman Misaki Takimoto on Sunday in the Jewels “Fifth Ring” main event at Shinjuku Face.

Given Ham’s background in muay Thai and Takimoto’s in karate, the bout looked more like a kickboxing match than an MMA bout. As the aggressor, Ham pursued Takimoto with a bevy of excellent combinations on the feet, as she landed strikes with authority. There was rarely a punch thrown without an accompanying push, body or low kick.

While a hesitant Takimoto gave ground in the more severe moments of being bullied in the stand-up, she fired back with counter left hooks and right hands, some of which landed squarely and forced Ham to tune down her intensity. However, Takimoto failed to string enough of these counters together to turn the tables.

Takimoto showed toughness in enduring Ham’s best shots on the feet, but the damage wore on her. Midway through the second round, Ham pummeled Takimoto into the corner, prompting referee Ryogoku Wada to call a knockdown. After answering the count, Takimoto grew desperate, as she shot for two futile takedowns, only to be stuffed and dropped again for the second knockdown at the end of the round.

Ham’s commanding performance earned her the nod on the scorecards of judges Yoshinori Umeki, Kenichi Serizawa and Akira Yamazaki. In an interesting side note, Ham was issued a yellow card at the beginning of the bout for coming in 400 grams (0.9 pounds) overweight.

Yabushita Submits Emoto

Atsuko Emoto had Megumi Yabushita in trouble early when she reversed a throw and took back mount, but the first Smackgirl open weight champion held on and pulled out another win.

Yabushita eventually reversed and took top position in guard before both women were returned to a standing position. In her second seoi-nage attempt, Yabushita rolled with the shoulder throw and latched a surprise armbar that had Emoto tapping 2:43 into the first period.

Morii Lands First-Round Submission; Sanchez Looms

In a battle between professional wrestlers, Tomoko Morii waited out Chihiro Oikawa’s messy flurries on the feet and pulled out a submission late in the first round.

Oikawa met little resistance to her wild punches and knees in the clinch, but she inexplicably pulled guard whenever Morii pushed her from inside the clinch. Oikawa had no real ground game, and Morii eventually passed and executed the fight-ending armbar at the 4:13 mark.

Morii will meet Alexandra Sanchez, a unanimous decision winner over Shizuka Sugiyama, in the final of the Rough Stone grand prix, a 132-pound tournament.

Nagano Cruises to Easy Win, Eyes Kagoshima

Mika Nagano took out Rina Tomita with relative ease, as she brought her to the mat seconds after the opening bell.

Nagano then worked an oppressive top game, passing from half guard to mount until the armbar was in reach. Though Tomita valiantly fought to free herself, the referee elected to save Tomita’s arm and called an end to the bout 2:25 into the opening frame.

Nagano will collide with Yoko Kagoshima, a unanimous decision victor against Yuko Oya, in the 119-pound Rough Stone grand prix final.

Kodera, Ishikawa Take Submissions

Asami Kodera and Misaki Ozawa took their shots standing with punches and knees in the clinch, but Kodera’s ground game prevailed at the end.

Kodera dominated position in the latter half of the first round, applied an armbar from the triangle choke and coaxed the tapout 1:56 into the second period.

Finally, Kikuyo Ishikawa easily handled MMA neophyte Asako Saioka, as she started with a hard right to the face before taking her back in the clinch. Ishikawa hopped on immediately and cinched the rear-naked choke for the tapout 78 seconds into round one.

Kodera and Ishikawa will lock horns in the 106-pound Rough Stone grand prix.
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