Jewels 3rd Ring: Yamanaka Outpoints Hooper

By: Tony Loiseleur and Stephen Martinez
May 16, 2009



TOKYO -- Former Smackgirl open-weight champion Yuko “Hiroko” Yamanaka defeated Shannon Hooper, an understudy of Josh Barnett, by decision in the main event Saturday of Jewels 3rd Ring at Shinjuku Face.

Hooper's biggest obstacle was Yamanaka's length, as the CSW product wanted to keep the fight on the feet. The American could not get in close enough to tee off on the Japanese fighter with her quick, tight punches. Yamanaka stayed on the outside, circling just out of Hooper's range while throwing the occasional crisp jab between countless cracking low kicks that made Hooper's left leg red and purple. Yamanaka also caught Hooper in the Thai plum several times, where she delivered knees to the body, though the American deflected most of the blows.

Round two was more of the same. Yamanaka was perfectly happy to stay on the outside, racking up damage with her resounding low kicks. Hooper continued to give chase, working Yamanaka into the corners, but she was still unable to close the distance despite Barnett exhorting her to throw her punches farther and Hiroyuki Abe calling for her to step into range.

Thus, Yamanaka, a former dominatrix and Smackgirl open-weight queen, walked away with a handy unanimous decision courtesy of judges Kenichi Serizawa, Yoshinori Umeki and Akira Yamazaki.

Japanese MMA ironwoman Misaki Takimoto got back on the winning track by handing Yukiko Seki her sixth loss in a row. Though Seki came to fight, her forward-pressing punches were ineffective on the karateka. Takimoto dropped Seki to all fours after feeding her three well-placed knees in the clinch, then took her back easily. While Takimoto couldn't soften Seki up with punches from behind to sink the choke, she was able to transition for the armbar instead after several failed choke attempts. Seki tapped at the 3:40 mark of the first.

Shizuka Sugiyama proved too much for Team Hellboy Hansen product Celine Haga, dishing out a two-round beating on the Norwegian import. Besides the occasional big right hand reminiscent of her trainer Joachim Hansen, Haga was tentative to the point of paralysis, unable to defend against Sugiyama's long middle kicks and more precise punches. Haga resorted to shooting for takedowns, but was either repeatedly reversed or stuffed, leading her to gas early.

Sugiyama, sprawled or on top in guard, racked up more and more punches to the body. She also earned a yellow card for accidentally hitting Haga in the head twice while on the ground, which did little to help Haga and only proved to hamper the flow of the bout. In the end, Sugiyama handily took the decision on the scorecards of Ryogoku Wada, Yamazaki and Serizawa.

Mika Nagano put Shinsaki Ozawa away quickly, locking up an armbar for a quick referee stoppage early in the first round. Nagano quickly established herself by capturing mount early on, but she was unable to create openings with ground-and-pound and referee Yoshinori Umeki stood her up soon after for inactivity. It didn't matter much. Ozawa botched a takedown, giving Nagano the mount again, as well as her arm. Before Ozawa could tap, Umeki called the bout at 2:09.

Chihiro Oikawa pressed forward until momentum got her in perfect position for an early armbar finish over perennial women's MMA journeywoman Harumi Harumi. After charging forward with punches, Oikawa got into the clinch, where she attempted to jump into guard or throw Harumi. Harumi foiled these attempts to take the fight down and instead ate many punches from Oikawa before falling under her to give up the mount. Oikawa transitioned easily to the armbar and got the tap at 2:22 of the first period.

Yuko Oya started out trading on the feet with Hanako Kobayashi, but after landing a few solid punches, she ate quite a few hard shots herself. Switching tactics to pursue takedowns, she suffered through less punishment while racking up the points. On the ground, however, Oya was essentially rendered ineffective when she couldn’t punch to the face to create openings for submission attempts. Oya thus took a lackluster decision after two rounds from judges Wada, Umeki and Yamazaki.

Kicking off the evening, Miki Morifuji knocked out Mayu when Mayu decided the best way to block punches was with her face. Mayu fell at the 16-second mark and was counted out for the knockout.

In other bouts, kickboxer Kozue “Azuma” Nagashima and Jewels poster girl Saori Ishioka each took decisions over Misato Tomita and Kanako Oka respectively in Shootboxing rules bouts. Upon emerging victorious, Ishioka called out top pound-for-pound female mixed martial artist Megumi Fujii for a future bout in Jewels.

“I know you've got a lot of things going on, like competing in ADCC for example, but if things can work out, would you grant me a match?” asked Ishioka.

“The honor would be mine,” replied a gracious Fujii, who earlier that evening had hinted at a July return to the Jewels ring.

Shootboxing's Rena Kubota also indicated that she will make her Jewels debut in the near future.

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