On November 8th, 2009, GCM’s new all-female cage fighting promotion “Valkyrie” kicked off with a bang. Or was it a ‘pow?’
It’s hard for me to say, since I was in it, not watching it. I did my part, I sold a bunch of tickets and promoted the hell out of it on-line and such. Then I fought and dominated my opponent, to win by decision. I saw Sakura’s debut fight against Mamiko Mizoguchi, which resulted in a draw. It wasn’t too bad for a debut. She looked green but not horrible. I saw parts of Emi Fujino vs Windi Tomomi, and that was a war. Later I was told her fight was the fight of the night in terms of excitement, but one of my friends analyzed it, saying Fujino should have changed her strategy – if she had not just blindly slugged it out, she could have won. The Japanese magazines were all over the Tsuji- Hajime V fight, raving that it was top-level with ground and pound. I didn’t get to see it.
I didn’t hear any feedback from management. A few weeks later, we fighters got an email asking who wanted to be on the next one. Of course I volunteered, but haven’t heard back since. I followed up and didn’t get a good answer. Then I heard that it’s going to be incorporated into the male promotion “Cage Force.” Now, nobody knows if any fights are happening at all.
Smack Girl’s child “Jewels” sprang up two weeks later November 16th, showcasing the super-powers of Megumi Fuji (armbar 1:05 against debut fighter), and Hitomi Akano (armbar 0:38 seconds against 0-6 fighter). There was a great showing by Hiroko against Super Benkei, with the smaller fighter by 25 or so pounds, taking it the larger yet losing. This promotion emphasised publicly that they did match-making based on looks, writing “Women’s Fighting Entertainment” as their logo. Ground and pound is prohibited, as are elbows.
Was it that Jewels’ marketing kicked more butt than Valkyrie’s, or the name value of fighters, customer fan base, venue proximity and cost? Or just budget of the promotion? It’s hard to know which one was more successful, but Jewel’s next show is February 2nd, and Valkyrie is missing in action. It’s much more costly to put on a cage fight in a big venue like Valkyrie, compared to smaller Jewels shows in Shinjuku face, which is about half the size.
We must be thankful that women still have a venue to fight professionally in. But let’s face it, it’s not on the same scale as abroad. More and more Japanese women who are fighting foreigners are losing – Masako Yoshida losing to Lisa Ward, FFF1, Takahashi losing to Cyborg, Tama-chan losing to Shayna Bazsler, etc. Personally, I believe women fighters aren’t taken as seriously in Japan, and thus aren’t able to train like pro fighters should be training. Why should they train so seriously if nobody WILL take them seriously or give them fights? They also to hold jobs to survive and can’t train as they should. Working overtime in Japanese culture is an expectation, not an option. If they are lucky enough to have a job. Many companies discriminate against women because most women quit once they get married. My teammate Takayo Hashi (11-1) works an office job from 8 AM to as late as 9 PM every weekday.
Only time will tell which promotion will come out on top- full MMA ruled- Valkyrie, with a canvas comparable to it’s US’s counterpart? Or flashy Jewels that caters to the Japanese male sensibilities?