There was a huge upset in the 115 pound division, as #6 ranked Megumi “V1” Yamaguchi (6-2) defeated #3 ranked Yu-ka Tsuji (22-2) via Rear Naked Choke at 1:16 of R1, making Yamaguchi the new Jewel’s flyweight champion. This avenges her loss to Tsuji in Nov. 2008. This is sure to shake up the 115 rankings in March. Number 5 superflyweight Rin Nakai (6-0) won her match verses Mizuho Sato (5-4) via Kimura at 1:50 of Round 3.
Since #1 ranked Cyborg Santos successfully defended her 145 pound title, the focus has been on the 135 division, where #1 ranked striker Sarah Kaufman (10-0) will battle Japanese grappler Takayo Hashi (12-1) for the newly formed belt Feb. 26 at the Strikeforce Challengers Series 6 event in San Jose.
The event will be live on Showtime and will serve as the co-main event. Neither fighter has ever gone into the fifth round, but Kaufman’s last two fights in 2009 with #10 ranked Meisha Tate and #4 ranked Shayna Baszler went to the cards. Hashi went to the cards twice in her last three fights, and was able to secure a submission win in her only 2009 fight in April.
Speculation out of Strikeforce is that the winner of #10 ranked Miesha Tate (10-2) and undefeated Zoila Frausto (5-0) will get the winner of the Kaufman-Hashi title fight. As of now, Tate and Frausto will not be a part of the 135 pound tournament that Strikeforce is putting together in April. The tournament will see the quarterfinals in April, with a May or June for a combined semi-final/final one night event. The 145 pound tournament is set for June.
Speaking of the 145 pound division, #3 ranked Marloes Coenen will be fighting on the Glory 12 event on April 26 in Sarajevo. K-1 Japan will be holding the event and no announcement yet for Coenen’s opponent.
#2 ranked Erin Toughill is most likely going to be the next up to bat for Cyborg Santos’ title, but Toughill said in a recent interview that Strikeforce is looking into a possible warm-up fight. There is high speculation on who that would be. Elaina Maxwell is said to be signed with Strikeforce, with ranked fighters such as Brazil’s Ediane Gomes (#8) and Japan’s Yoko Takahashi (#6) both possibilities to be flown in to face Toughill.
There is a possibility that #5 ranked Kelly Kobold could also be tapped. Kobold will be making her cage return in Minnesota the same night as the Kaufman-Hashi title match, and word has it she is stronger and has a huge chip on her shoulder since her loss to #4 ranked Gina Carano in 2008.
On a side note, Fightergirls founder and MMA veteran Debi Purcell will be a featured coach on VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club” Feb. 22.
Next week we will preview all the upcoming matches, including Kelly Kobold’s return and Kaufman vs. Hashi predictions and analysis.
115 Pound Division Japan vs. USA
By: MarQ Piocos, News Editor