Speaking with Sherdog.com, Fujii confirmed that she recently received the go-ahead to compete at Jewels’ “15th Ring” from Bellator Fighting Championships, the Chicago-based promotion for whom she fought four times in 2010 and remains under contract.
“This year, I’ve been slowly getting back into action, since I’ve been recovering from the fatigue of fighting last year and, of course, dealing with the effects of the Great Tohoku Earthquake on March 11,” Fujii explained. “I’m healthy and back to full strength now, though, and I’ll give my all to go for the knockout or submission against Nagano.”
Fujii and Nagano first tangled in December 2007, under the banner of the now-defunct Smackgirl promotion. Already 12-0 with nine submission wins, the veteran grappler Fujii made quick work of newcomer Nagano, disposing of the debutante in just 80 seconds. As with many rematches, however, Fujii acknowledged that things could be different this time out.
“I fought Mika Nagano in her debut fight and triangled her, but since then, she’s been getting many more fights in and has been growing stronger. Therefore, I plan to focus my training to match her newfound strengths,” said Fujii.
Just as in their first meeting, ground-and-pound will be restricted when Fujii and Nagano hit the canvas on July 9. Fujii told Sherdog.com that she had hoped for a “Special Rules” fight -- like several “Jewels vs. Valkyrie” matchups on the card -- which would permit strikes to a grounded opponent. However, due to the number of such fights already in place, the 114-pound bout will be contested under Smackgirl-style “Jewels Rules.”
Regardless of the regulations, Fujii asserted that she is focused solely on reclaiming the position she held prior to Oct. 28, 2010, when she acquired the only blemish on her 23-1 record in a razor-thin split decision with Zoila Gurgel.
“I want to return to being the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and I’ll endeavor to show the strength and skills that I possess toward that end,” said Fujii. “I want to fight in Bellator again soon, and I’ll be doing my best to quickly return to the U.S. to see and meet with everyone again.”
Also added to the “15th Ring” card Wednesday was a 114-pound Special Rules contest between two-time Valkyrie title challenger Kyoko Takabayashi and Jewels mainstay Celine Haga, and a 116-pound Jewels Rules bout pitting Kikuyo Ishikawa against Sachiko Yamamoto.