Earlier today, Shootboxing held its fourth Girls S-Cup and third main Girls S-Cup tournament, as well as the finals of the 53.5kg Girls S-Cup and the JKS48 High School tournament at Yamano Hall in Tokyo.
In the main tournament, the quarterfinals started off with 2-time defending S-Cup champion Rena Kubota scoring a unanimous decision over Australia's Kim Townsend on scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27. Rena scored shoot points in the first and second rounds while working her superior boxing, moving her into the semifinals. In the next semifinal, 2011 Girls S-Cup runner-up Seo Hee Ham took out late replacement Lisa Ellis by unanimous decision on scores of 30-26(x2) and 30-27. Ellis tried using the clinch to work her grappling, but Ham was just too much for her, scoring a knockdown in the second round and advancing to face Rena in the semis. In the other half of the bracket, 2009 S-Cup runner-up and 2010 semifinalist V.V Mei Yamaguchi needed an extension round, but was able to defeat Thai representative Namtarn Por Muangpetch by unanimous decision, winning the extension round 10-9 on all three cards. Namtarn wasn't able to keep V.V Mei away from her and resulted in Yamaguchi getting a shoot point in the second round and ultimately winning the extension round, despite not getting a shoot point. In the final quarterfinal, Holland's Lorena Klijn scored the night's biggest upset with an extension round win over 2011 S-Cup Preliminary tournament champ Erika Kamimura. Kamimura had a slight edge in the stand-up, but Klijn surprisingly used the clinch to her advantage and was able to score a shoot point in the extension round which was the difference.
In the semifinals, Rena needed an extension round to defeat Seo Hee Ham and make it to her third straight S-Cup final. The two were even throughout the course of 3 rounds, but in the extension round, Rena was able to separate herself from Ham and won the round on all 3 judges' cards. In the other semifinal, V.V Mei also needed an extension round to advance to her second S-Cup final with a win over Lorena Klijn. Both fighters looked to use their clinch game to advance, but Yamaguchi proved to be superior in that department, scoring a shoot point in the second round and two shoot points in the extension round, as well as a yellow card to Klijn, which secured the lopsided extension round win.
In a rematch of the first Girls S-Cup final in 2009, Rena proved her dominance in Shootboxing once again with a unanimous decision over V.V Mei on scores of 30-29(x3). Yamaguchi was not able to capitalize with her grappling against the experienced Rena, who used her superior stand-up to win her third straight Girls S-Cup.
While she has lost single fights in Shootboxing, including a big upset to Jessica Penne, Rena excels in tournaments and showed great stamina, fighting 10 rounds on the night against tough competition. She has a rematch with Erika Kamimura to defend her RISE Queen title at a yet to be determined date and should she win, the only options seem to be either a third fight with Ai Takahashi or a fight with the girl who beat Takahashi twice, Mizuki Inoue. For V.V Mei, this is huge. In my opinion, she was more of an afterthought for the tournament, as she was originally scheduled for this event, but not in the tournament field and was upset in the 2011 S-Cup preliminary tournament by Mina in the first round. Huge showing from her and she likely cemented her place in future Girls S-Cups to come. If there ever were an "elite-level gatekeeper", it would have to be Seo Hee Ham. In MMA, she owns wins over the likes of Hisae Watanabe, Saori Ishioka and V.V Mei, while her only losses have come to WMMA legends Miku Matsumoto, Megumi Fujii and Yuka Tsuji, with a pair of losses against undefeated prodigy and student of Fujii, Ayaka Hamasaki. In kickboxing and Shootboxing, she has beaten everyone thrown her way except for Erika Kamimura and now Rena. Kamimura and Klijn are probably the biggest stories to come out of this event. Kamimura was an unstoppable force on her rise to the top, knocking out nearly everyone who got in her path, both domestically and internationally, and was favored to meet Rena in the tournament finals. However, a close loss to Rena and this loss here have shown a few holes in her game. She still has extremely good power, possibly the best in women's kickboxing, but if she can't land her hooks, while she is a very talented kickboxer, she has trouble winning rounds and in Shootboxing, her grappling base isn't very strong. Big congratulations to Klijn who shocked nearly everyone and will have to be invited to the next Girls S-Cup.
In the finals of the 53.5kg Girls S-Cup, Mizuki Inoue proved her first win over Ai Takahashi wasn't a fluke, defeating Takahashi for the second time, this time over the course of 6 rounds, winning the extension round on all three judges' cards. Inoue used superior speed and movement to land against Takahashi and take her second big win over the former Shootboxing champion, winning the 53.5kg tournament title as well. Inoue is one of the brightest prospects in both MMA and kickboxing and should find herself in another marquee matchup, possibly against Rena, some time in the near future. Takahashi wasn't able to exploit her length as well as she did against smaller opponents in the S-Cup, but was able to keep up with Inoue. Now 0-2 against Inoue, she'll have to work her way back up if she wants a second chance at redemption.
In the JKS48 High School tournament, Rena's younger sister Mio Kubota matched her sister's efforts and won the tournament with a unanimous decision over Yusa Tachi in the semis and a TKO of Akari Nakamura in the finals. It's hard to say what is in Mio's near future, but Shootboxing has a good number of former S-Cup participants with experience that could give her a good challenge and see if she has the same promise as her sister, who was fighting Miku Matsumoto and Su Jeong Lim when she was just 17.
Finally, in a 53.5kg single fight, 53.5kg Girls S-Cup participant Rio Kamikaze scored an upset over prospect Seira Aragaki by majority decision on scores of 30-28, 29-28 and 28-28. Rio scored 2 shoot points in the third round with a hip toss that won her the fight. A rematch with Ai Takahashi could be a good next fight for her.
Quick results after the break
Girls S-Cup Final: Rena Kubota def. Mei Yamaguchi by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-29, 30-29, 30-29)
53.5kg Girls S-Cup Final: Mizuki Inoue def. Ai Takahashi by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9) after a 5th round Split Draw (49-48, 49-50, 49-49)
JKS48 Tournament Final: Mio Kubota def. Akari Nakamura by 2nd round TKO (corner stoppage) at 1:09
Girls S-Cup Semifinal #2: Mei Yamaguchi def. Lorena Klijn by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-6, 9-6, 9-6) after a 3rd round Split Draw (30-29, 27-28, 29-29)
Girls S-Cup Semifinal #1: Rena Kubota def. Seo Hee Ham by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9) after a 3rd round Unanimous Draw (30-30, 29-29, 29-29)
53.5kg Fight: Rio Kamikaze def. Seira Aragaki by 3rd round Majority Decision (30-29, 29-28, 28-28)
Girls S-Cup Quarterfinal #4: Lorena Klijn def. Erika Kamimura by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9) after a 3rd round Majority Draw (30-29, 30-30, 30-30)
Girls S-Cup Quarterfinal #3: Mei Yamaguchi def. Namtarn Por. Muangpetch by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-9) after a 3rd round Majority Draw (30-29, 29-29, 29-29)
Girls S-Cup Quarterfinal #2: Seo Hee Ham def. Lisa Ellis by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Girls S-Cup Quarterfinal #1: Rena Kubota def. Kim Townsend by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-27)
JKS48 Semifinal #2: Mio Kubota def. Yusa Tachi by 3rd round Unanimous Decision (30-28, 30-28, 30-29)
JKS48 Semifinal #1: Akari Nakamura def. Naoko Otsuka by ext. round Unanimous Decision (10-9, 10-9, 10-8) after a 3rd round Majority Draw (30-29, 30-30, 29-29)