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Here is the fight video between Rena and Erika Kamimura. They were two of the most popular fighters in Japan. There was some pretty big build up to this fight. Before the fight, the build-up was the subject of almost all of the combat magazines in Japan. Erika had previously knocked Rena down several times in an exhibition and after subtle jabs at each other the fight finally occurred in Erika's promotion, Rise.

The fight was semi-controversial because of the point deductions and ref's breaking up of the clinch.

Just wanted to share the fight and see how you guys score it.

 

Round 3:

Round 4:

Round 5:

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The fight was semi-controversial because of the point deductions and ref's breaking up of the clinch.

Just wanted to share the fight and see how you guys score it.

 

Wow, what an interesting fight. Round 1 Erika looked so beautiful. She's so comfortable with her hands, do you know if she had a boxing background? Her spacing, her footwork, just wonderful. But then Rena figures out that Erika doesn't do so well going backwards. In fact she looks average if she doesn't have her space and her forward lean, which surprised me. But a lot of fighters don't do well going backwards. The first two rounds hold so much promise for this fight. Will Erika adjust and be the forward fighter? But I haven't a clue what happens after that. This isn't Muay Thai rules is it? At first it seems like low-clinch isn't allowed, and Erika suffers for it. But then as the fight progresses it seems that NO clinch is allowed. So both fighters clinch without actually locking arms, and its ridiculous. It turns into a mess. I can't help but feel that under full Muay Thai rules Erika wins this fight, but that's on minimal evidence from the first 2 rounds. I don't know the meaning of the yellow and red cards. Did both fighters get a red card in the end?

I will say that I was so distracted by the clinch, no-clinch business I had a hard time scoring this fight on first viewing. Because Erika couldn't clinch she couldn't capitalize on closing with punches and she ended up looking very sloppy. Not her fault, but how it turned out. That sloppiness in my more Thai sensitive eye made her look like the less composed fighter to me, and Rena the more in control. But as you say that Japanese scoring rewards  the out-on-your-shield fighter, and that was Erika. Bottom line, even though I was pulling for Erika (in fact I like both fighters), Rena seemed more composed, and okay as the winner, but I have feeling I could probably watch it again and count landed blows and feel that Erika scored a lot more. My Thai lean I feel compulsed to give it to Rena for some reason, but that isn't even knowing what the cards mean, or even what was going on with the rules.

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They clinch non-sense really ruined the fight. Both fighters seemed to be engaging in clinch work, so the ref should have let them do it, instead he became obsessed with breaking it up the second it started.

Initially, Erika is given a yellow card for clinching. Then Rena and Erika are both given yellow cards for clinching, as a result, Erika's upgrades to a red card and she is deducted a point. This was the turning moment of the fight in my opinion as Rena realized that if she tied Erika up it would stop Erika from moving forward and if there was a penalty it would likely be given to both fighters. With Erika down a point already, this could never really hurt her. If she miss judged it would simply nullify the deduction. Her strategy paid off as the ref then became obsessed with breaking up the clinch but no longer penalizing.

The lead up to this fight was pretty interesting. Rena had been absent due to injury and was pressured to come back and fight for the Shoot Boxing title before she was 100% and they changed the rules, which she was not used to. She lost the fight, then right before the Erika fight she lost to Jessica Penne (from UFC). Her injury was lingering and would require additional surgeries to heal. On top of that Erika embarrassed Rena at a Shoot Boxing event. Shoot Boxing is Rena's home promotion, and the two fought an "exhibition". It turned into a real fight with Erika knocking Rena down twice. This all led to an extremely frustrated Rena who told people that she would retire if she lost to Erika.

A couple of months after the fight, I had the opportunity to speak to Erika and Rena about it. Some Japanese media commented on how strange the officiating had been, so I asked Erika about it. She agreed that the officiating was very strange, but didn't want to talk about it beyond that. In a separate conversation with Rena, Rena talked about how extremely frustrated she had been with her injury and Shoot Boxing not giving her time to let it heal. (I believe her ankle was broken)

There is a lot of strange stuff going on in the background of this fight and there were major implications for both fighters and their respective promotions, which has led to speculation.

I think it's a close fight, which would have been a great fight had the ref let the two fight. Based on what you've said, with Erika pursuing her, I can see how in Thai style scoring Rena would have the edge. In Japanese style, it would have been a draw, which it was before the deductions came into play.

I just think its an interesting fight, with all of the background and the fight itself. During my time in Japan it was the most promoted women's fight I could remember. Possibly more than any men's fight. It was on the cover of magazines, there was a tv special, it was a big deal.

Oh and she comes from a karate background actually. Erika did Karate with her father and grew up watching the famous kickboxer Masato.

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I just think its an interesting fight, with all of the background and the fight itself. During my time in Japan it was the most promoted women's fight I could remember. Possibly more than any men's fight. It was on the cover of magazines, there was a tv special, it was a big deal.

Oh and she comes from a karate background actually. Erika did Karate with her father and grew up watching the famous kickboxer Masato.

 

So many compelling things. Most Karate styles keep their hands low, do they not? I'm just pretty amazed at her comfort guard, and footwork. I love hearing about the backgrounds of these fighters and the events surrounding fights. There just isn't a lot out there. So is the thought that the promotion for some reason fixed the fight for Rena with these ridiculous clinch breaks? Are there actual rules against clinching? I mean, when these cards are shown is it supposedly understood what they are for?

I also don't have a very clear timeline of Erika's career. Did she ever really recover from this fight? How long after this fight was it that she retired?

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With as much as Shoot Boxing had to lose if Rena lost, people have contemplated such. 

Erika never recovered. The fight was supposed to be her crowing moment. Rise, her promotion, created the title for the fight. She fought a couple more times, but was never the same.

She wanted a rematch with Rena but Rena forfeit the title. So Erika entered a Girl's S-Cup that Rena was in, but Erika was royally sandbagged. It became evident that a rematch would never happen. (Not because of Rena but because of Shoot Boxing)

In addition a close friend and training partner of hers, who was ko'd right before her fight with Rena, was forced to retired due to brain trauma, and I think that effected her a lot as well. Her other friend she trained with moved to America.

Erika was notorious for anxiety and stress problems, had suffered permanent injuries, and without the motivation seemed to lose all desire to continue on, for what I imagine was not a lot of money. A doctor told her that hard training would make her injuries worse, so she chose to retire.

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Erika never recovered. The fight was supposed to be her crowing moment. Rise, her promotion, created the title for the fight. She fought a couple more times, but was never the same.

 

When she breaks down and cries at the end of that last round, backstage, it is heartbreaking. This fight, the fight that never really was. Wow. Has Rena retired?

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This is absolutely amazing, Charlie - thank you so much for sharing this. I love, LOVE, Erika and RENA but in such a way that seeing them fight each other was a totally bizarre cheering experience, with me pulling for both fighters back and forth.

I'll admit that I almost never have a full grasp of what's going on in fights in Japan with the variation in rules (or in Europe for that matter) but this one was particularly strange with the yellow and red cards; especially with each fighter getting both cards, so it seemed like a point was deducted from both? But ultimately I agreed with the decision. If it were scored on a calculator, Erika wins on points and stronger strikes (those left kicks!), but watching the fight Thai style, where the scoring is the narrative of the fight, there was something about RENA's ability to snuff Erika's flurries over and over, especially in that last round, was definitive.

Agreed with Kevin though; seeing Erika break down backstage after that fight put a little dent in my heart.

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Wow. Has Rena retired?

 

No she is performing better than ever. This fight reenergized her but she still had to overcome her foot/ankle injury. The year following this fight she competed at the Girl's S-Cup and won, despite still being injured. She had several operations and a year after that Girl's S-Cup she returned, back to full health.

People forget that she is only 23. In my opinion she looks better than ever. Plus she's had a very positive effect. Shoot Boxing's promotion of her has allowed for other women to enter the organization and become popular. They've recently started promoting the 48kg division for women. They've also started promoting a slightly heavier 53.5kg division. The 48kg division was created for Rena's training partner Mio, but was somewhat taken over last year by Mizuki Inoue's training partner Yukari Yamaguchi (age 16). Whereas the 53.5 was created with Rena's old rival Ai Takahashi in mind but was taken over by Mizuki Inoue (age 20). So Shoot Boxing has never looked better for women to compete in. 

Here is her final fight from last year's Girl's S-Cup

Here is the thai fighter's prior fight:

The fans really enjoyed watching Ticha fight and I'd like to see her get invited back for this years tournament. I've always liked the tournament, it reminds me of Bloodsport or the Quest with fighters being invited from all around the world for a one day tournament.

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Rena is amazing though. I saw her fight in Rikix in Japan, it's not just that she's good, she has an amazing presence and she really is a star. She walked out like a champion. This is very important as so many women seem to be meek and even more so in Japan. She sets a great precedent for everyone. Also she has amazing fight hair.

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