A massive underdog, Ayaka Miura pitted her Judo acumen against well-versed BJJ ace Danielle Kelly. The submission rules bout was the 2nd of the main card but one of Fight Nights 7’s most anticipated.
Pic: Danielle Kelly and Ayaka Miura prepare for a submission showdown
One of the big questions posed by the match up was whether Miura could attain, and maintain, her crushing “Kesa Gatame” scarf hold. From the key position Miura executes her patented “Ayaka-Lock” submission that has served her so well in MMA. It is a technique not without considerable risk, imperfect balance and the smallest window of an opening can lead to back being taken. Would the eclectic MMA/ Judo practitioners go-to move work against one of the world’s elite grapplers?
With the height difference apparent from the onset, Kelly seized an arm and dropped to her back looking to continue momentum and come out behind the Judoka. Miura shut the attempt down and mounted her offence with a fingers-interlocked “Pancrase Guillotine” attempt. Kelly returned to her feet, seeking another, more fruitful entry to the canvas. Pulling guard again Kelly sought an elevation before being locked down by the heavy hipped Judoka. Upon restart in the center Miura made a critical mistake by allowing her opponent double underhooks, something she did not have when referee broke the competitors. Kelly immediately hit a slick hip elevation to take the back, a position the BJJ sensation is extremely dangerous from.
Pic: Heavy “Kesa-Gatame” top pressure from the 3rd Dan Judoka
The question as to whether Miura could work her patented scarf hold to “Ayaka Lock” transition was answered in emphatic fashion. Just as the writing seemed on the wall for Miura, the 3rd Dan Judoka flipped the script, with Kelly on her back she secured the BJJ expert’s head and arm, and rolled. Riding out the meticulously planned maneuver, Miura already had a Kesa Gatame when the battle for position unfolded. Unable to settle the position, Kelly skilfully reversed. Fully committed to the hold at all costs Miura shifted weight to go back over her opponent, end in a scarf hold and again passed the BJJ standouts 1/2 guard with ease. This time the scarf hold was deeper, flipping Kelly flat a few times Miura worked the “Ayaka Lock”, wrenching the arm down and entwining her leg to finalise the lock as the referee signalled a “catch.”
Pic: Ayaka Miura applies her signature “Ayaka-Lock” as the referee calls “catch”
With the athletes caught up in the ropes the referee prompted a restart and once more the Japanese grappler found herself reversed. Kelly raked the face to try to sneak in a choke but Miura, as she had done countless times, reached back and over Kelly’s head, rolled backwards and came out in her dominant position. Unable to secure the arm the high-level scrambles continued as Kelly brilliantly hit a sweep against the ropes. With nowhere to go Miura was flipped into mount position with 2 minutes remaining!
The tide had turned and momentum was on Kelly’s side, with her leg triangled around opponents’ body, the BJJ favorite was finally in her element. With the dominant position the world-renowned JuJitsu player raked and clawed to desperately wear down and break through the defense of her durable foe. After receiving her “final warning” for fingers in the eyes Kelly locked in a constricting rear naked choke for her first “catch” point of the match, evening the score. With the choke under the chin and not the neck, Miura weathered the storm before turning the tables and taking top position in the dying seconds.
Pic: BJJ superstar Danielle Kelly applies the squeeze
Both grappling guru’s put on an electrifying show, each showcasing their contrasting styles in a highly entertaining back and forth affair that raised the bar for the division. While Miura stole the early scrambles it was Kelly that came on strong at the end, and, with 1 “catch” point a piece it came down to the Judges. All 3 of the judges leaned towards the American’s late surge, awarding her a razor thin unanimous decision victory.
Following the match, Kelly credited her flexibility as a reason for not succumbing to the “Ayaka-Lock” and expressed desire to compete at Atomweight (115lbs in One) in the future. Miura, in defeat, can hold her head high knowing that she came within a hairs breath of beating one of the world’s top tier BJJ artists under her own rule-set. In a similar vein to her adversary, the Japanese MMA submission specialist stated she never cut weight when fighting at 115lbs and increased her girth for One Championship’s 125lb Strawweight division. In fight camp she was reportedly under weight, finding it hard not to shed the lbs. She hit weight 3 days before event and was consuming rice to keep it on. Miura would also surely benefit from cutting down to a more natural weight class.
Pic: Miura raises the Tribe Tokyo MMA flag in celebration
Regardless of weight and rules, “Zombie” Ayaka Miura will keep coming, unrelenting, unwavering, as she relentlessly pursues a finish.
(All images taken from Social media and free to view sources)