It’s been nearly four years since Mei Yamaguchi fought on Japanese turf. From her debut in Smackgirl in 2007, “V.V.Mei” as she was affectionately known, has come a long way and is truly a veteran and warrior of the martial arts. She has faced some of the very best on the Japanese circuit. Emi Fujino, Yuka Tsuji, and Megumi Fujii have all helped to cut her teeth in MMA, and she has taken RIZIN star, Rena Kubota, to a judge decision in Shootboxing.
From JEWELS to PANCRASE, from Guam to Finland, Mei Yamaguchi had had an eclectic array of experience before even joining ONE Championship. And, the promotion is perfect for her: a symbiotic relationship in which she needs and feeds off the highest level competition around – feeding off the battles – and the ONE fans feed off Mei’s unbreakable spirit, skill, and compassion for others when she speaks.
Set to compete in Singapore on the Call to Greatness card on February 22nd, Mei’s opponent got injured and the bout was unfortunately pulled. As luck would have it, she was immediately offered a spot on the inaugural Tokyo card: A New Era, a blessing in disguise. She stayed on in Singapore to train at Evolve, keep the momentum.
March 31st rolled in and Mei took on Kseniya Lachkova, a Russian on a 5-fight-win streak. The taller and younger of the two, Lachkova immediately used her reach and striking attibributes on the feet, and leverage on the canvas, catching Mei with outboxing and even threatening an armbar off her back.
The early submission threat from Lachkova had the crowd on the edge of their seats, but Mei explains, “We knew she would do that armbar, so I practiced in training with my partner…it’s all about technique and I wasn’t in trouble at all.”
Mei quickly pulled her elbow just outside the lever point of the armbar when she felt it going on.
The battle went to the 3rd round, and Mei’s pressure was too much for the Russian, with ground and pound followed by an armbar from top position resulting in her hand being raised in front of her father and brother in attendance watching her fight for the first time.
“I’m so happy winning in my hometown in Tokyo” Mei said post win. “I heard a lot of people calling my name, Yamaguchi, and it gave me a lot of power” she went on. “When I fought in Japan, people always called me “V.V.Mei” so it was kind of strange, but it really helped me!”
When asked when she wants to fight again, Mei says “As soon as possible.”