Valkyrie Takes Flight Nov. 8

By Jordan Breen Oct 8, 2008
Amidst a flux period for female MMA in Japan, Greatest Common Multiple are swinging the cage doors open for women.

The Japanese company, responsible for the popular Cage Force series, will launch their new, all-female MMA series Valkyrie on Nov. 8, looking to fill the void left for MMA's women by the all-but-official end for Japan's flagship female promotion Smackgirl.

Smackgirl was born in May 2001 from the ashes of the ill-fated, but watershed all-female promotion ReMix, and promoted over 50 MMA and grappling events featuring a large contingent of the sport's top women.

After an accumulation of debt and financial instability, Smackgirl and parent company Kilgore began 2008 with designs on reinvention and rebirth. However, the promotion ran into difficulties with sponsors and broadcasters, who pulled their support for the organization.

Smackgirl was set to stage their 2008 ReMix tournament finale card on July 24, but was forced to postpone the event twice amidst mounting speculation of imminent dissolution. The promotion has not formally folded, but no future activity is expected from the brand.

Valkyrie is not GCM's first all-female MMA project, having promoted the short-lived Cross Section series in 2004. This time, however, GCM are looking to come out swinging in style.

The Nov. 8 debut for Valkyrie will be a twin-bill with the company's Cage Force brand at Differ Ariake in Tokyo. Valkyrie will kick off a doubleheader of MMA action in the afternoon, with the Cage Force card following in the evening. Valkyrie's inaugural main event will feature the return of female MMA super-elite Yuka Tsuji, as the 115-pound queen takes on gifted grappling prospect V Hajime.

Smackgirl's long-tenured 115-pound champion, Tsuji has not fought since defending her title last December, taking a unanimous decision victory over spunky South Korean Seo Hee Ham. The bout was Tsuji's first to go the distance over a nine-fight, three-and-a-half-year span, which included submissions of Erica Montoya and Hisae Watanabe, and a first-round clobbering of the only woman to ever defeat her, Ana Michelle Tavares.

"I'll fight like a beast in the cage," said Tsuji of her impending cage debut. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Hajime, a slick jiu-jitsu player, won Smackgirl's 115-pound Next Cinderella rookie tournament last year, but lost her undefeated status last December, dropping a split decision to hot prospect Emi Fujino.

GCM have also announced that former Smackgirl executive Takeshi Nagao and Japanese female BJJ pioneer Yasuko Mogi will serve as event producers for the upstart promotion.

For the time being, Valkyrie fights will be contested over three three-minute rounds. For novice fighters, strikes to the head on the ground will be prohibited. For veteran females, ground-and-pound will be permitted, although elbow strikes on the mat will still be barred. However, GCM officials have conceded that depending on the development of the promotion, the rule structure may be tweaked in the future.
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