Legendary Japanese MMA fighter, 38 year-old Mei Yamaguchi (born in Tokyo, Japan on February 3, 1983) is a former Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion, and is among the most experienced female mixed martial artists competing at the highest level of combat sports.
Specialized in shoot boxing, karate, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mei Yamaguchi (aka “V.V”, so nicknamed after the V1 armlock wrestling manoeuvre) is among the most talented and adorned female MMA fighters in Asia. She currently fights as a lightweight in the Japanese promotion, Jewels.
When she was five years of age, she was whisked along with her mother to Los Angeles for her elementary education. It was at that time, when she was only seven years-old, that she found herself awed by the high-flying kung fu moves performed by the legendary Jackie Chan in his films.
It lit a spark in her to replicate those stunts, and she found karate to be an outlet to unlock her potential later leading her towards MMA.
She was often bullied at school because of her looks and Japanese accent, but wisely continued her karate training. She was made to leave the US to go back to her father in Tokyo at age nine due to the unfortunate passing of her mother.
Mei made history when she competed in a historic match against Singapore’s Angela Lee at the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
It was a moment of great honour and pride for both Mei Yamaguchi and Angela Lee to become part of Asian MMA history by competing in this high-stake match, leaving footprints of their legacy for generations to follow. It was a major moment for women’s wrestling being headlined by females in a major fight card in Asia that was broadcasted to over 75 countries and over a billion people!
Even though Mei lost the bout via unanimous decision, the match earned her the admiration of the MMA universe and was subsequently ranked as the no.32 Greatest Strawweight Fight of All Time and no.29 Best MMA Fight of the Year, 2016.
Mei Yamaguchi has represented promotions like Pancrase, Valkyrie, Vale Tudo Japan (VTJ), Smackgirl, and Pacific Xtreme Combat. She also holds notable victories over Saori Ishioka, Emi Fujino, Kyoko Takabayashi, Yuka Tsuji, Tomomi Sunaba, and Mika Nagano.
She made her pro MMA debut in the year 2007 at a time when women were not at all seen as major highlights of MMA matches. Yamaguchi commented; “There were only a few women fighters in those days, and the skill level wasn’t as high back then. It was very hard to show our skills when matched against the big guys.”
Lucrative high-end brands found no interest to invest seriously in women’s wrestling and inevitably, women fighters were paid far less compared to their male counterparts.
“If I had to get ready for a fight – and maybe I had an injury – I had to go to the doctor for treatment. I had to pay for it, and that was more than I made for the fight!” she recalls. She continued to fight as her love for MMA was greater than any obstacle in her path.
Mei Yamaguchi, like previous MMA champion and Fast & Furious star, Gina Carano as well as Ronda Rousey, has made strenuous efforts to keep women’s MMA alive.
Now you’ve got the back story on the former Deep Jewels Featherweight Champion, let’s get into the hotlist of Mei Yamaguchi’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
- Vs. Samanta van Dole – Shoot Boxing (Aug. 29, 2010)
- Vs. Laura Balin – ONE Championship (May 17, 2019)
- Vs. Jenny Huang – One Championship (June 30, 2017)
- Vs. Gina Iniong – One Championship (Nov. 24, 2017)
- Vs. Kseniya Lachkova – One Championship (March 31, 2019)
Mei faced Samanta van Dole at Shoot Boxing: Girl’s S-Cup 2010 held in Tokyo, Japan.
To start, Samanta charged at Mei throwing punches as they brawled at the side of the cage. At 29 seconds into round one, Samanta went for a left-hand punch, with Mei retaliating by closing the distance to strike knees into Samanta’s body.
At 46 seconds, Samanta fought Mei back with a combination of kicks and right-hand punches. At 1 minute, 50 seconds, Yamaguchi actually lifted Samanta up and tossed her to the ground much to the amazement of the crowd.
Round two saw both fighters tear each other apart with stunning punches and solid knees to the abdomen.
The third round was not short of action as the fighters continued their ruthless assault on one another.
Yamaguchi managed to lock in a standing guillotine choke on van Dole (whereupon the referee intervened at 1 minute, 48 seconds) to gain the win via technical submission.
This strawweight bout took place at the indoor stadium in Kallang, Singapore. “V.V” took on Gladiadores MMA Women’s strawweight Champion, Laura Balin, inside the cage, at the event known as One Championship: Enter the Dragon.
As the fight began, Yamaguchi paced towards Balin with her usual orthodox stance looking to capitalize from the very start. In the first minute of the match Balin spent more time scheming her plan, whilst maintaining a defensive approach to keep Yamaguchi’s constant attempts to close the distance at bay.
At 55 seconds into round one, Yamaguchi went for a takedown grappling Balin’s right leg as they sprawled on the ground vying for control. “V.V” won the dominant position, mounting over her opponent whilst pounding strong right-hand punches to Balin’s face.
At 1 minute, 38 seconds in, Balin struck with a left-hand to which Yamaguchi responded with a stunning left-hand smash. As the match progressed, Mei Yamaguchi continued to smash right hands to the face of Balin who was ‘under siege’ from all sides.
At 3 minutes, 20 seconds, Mei squeezed Balin’s neck with tremendous force looking to finish the fight with a choke. She also piled on some solid ground and pound and immediately switched to an armbar. Balin tapped out at 3 minutes, 46 seconds as the referee intervened to call the bout with Mei Yamaguchi emerging victorious via submission.
Mei Yamaguchi faced Chinese, Taipei martial-arts pro Jenny Huang at ONE Championship: Light of a Nation, in Yangon, (Rangoon city) Myanmar.
In the first minute of the match, both fighters made adjustments in their stances before making any contact. Huang intimidated her opponent with her right hand moving piston-like, in-and-out, in a hunt to taste first blood.
At 1 minute 40 seconds, Huang retaliated to a low kick by Mei with a couple of right-hand punches right to her jaw. Mei hurled a sharp kick to Huang’s abdomen as she struggled to keep her ground.
In the second round, Mei sprawled with Jenny, looking for a takedown. At 48 seconds, Jenny jumped on Mei, going for a guillotine choke.
Mei moved her head away from Jenny’s clutches and now had the upper hand. She found an opening and struck Huang’s face hard with right hand punches. Mei brutally decimated her opponent for the next three minutes with brutal left-right punches right to the face.
At 3 minutes 56 seconds, Mei mounted her opponent, went for back control, and quickly applied a rear naked choke (RNC). Huang tapped out as the referee intervened to call the stop.
This time Mei was up against six-time Philippine National Wushu Champion, Gina Iniong at the event, One Championship: Immortal Pursuit, held at Singapore’s Kalling indoor stadium.
Yamaguchi changed stances as she commenced her strategy striking with a big right hand upon the face of Gina, then quickly sought the takedown. Gina managed however, to press Mei against the cage, throwing hard knees at her body.
At 2 minutes, 21 seconds in, Mei Yamaguchi displayed her sheer athletic ability to overpower as she drove Gina down to the ground, attacking with a big right hand to her head.
The crowd reacted with overwhelm as she turned over and mounted her opponent exactly where she wanted, and smashed ferocious left-hand punches at 2 minutes, 50 seconds in. Mei remained dominant and finished the first round with a another ferocious punch right to Gina’s face.
At 47 seconds into round two, Mei went for the first takedown of the round and when she threw Gina to the ground, the crowed went bonkers. Gina’s breathing was laboured as she became exhausted by the body weight plus Yamaguchi’s powerful blows.
With 50 seconds left to the round’s end, Mei mercilessly rocked Gina’s head with rock-hard, heavy knees.
In the third round Mei unleashed two fierce punches that appeared to send shivers down Gina’s spine. The two fighters showed gratitude by hugging each other as the match ended. Mei Yamaguchi won the match via round three decision.
Mei was this time up against Kseniya “The Tigress” Lachkova, a – multiple Pankration World Champion, at the One Championship: A New Era contest. Note that Kseniya had a whopping 7-inch height advantage over the Japanese fighter.
Both fighters started off aggressively and sought to go all out. Experience was on Yamaguchi’s side, as she possessed a grittier and more focused edge than her opponent, some 12 years her junior.
At 2 minutes 35 seconds into round one, Kseniya threw punches and jabs towards Mei as she tries to close in the distance.
Mei quickly goes for the single leg takedown attempt which elicits a loud cheer from the crowd. Kseniya kept her body position high to nullify the success of the takedown. Kseniya with keen presence of mind used foot work to her advantage stumbling Mei to the ground as the crowd poured on appreciation for the two fighters.
At 1 minute, 34 seconds into round two, Mei came back strongly as she performed a textbook takedown. Kseniya reversed it into an armbar but Mei soon turned the tables, stunning her opponent with a flurry of right-hand punches straight to Kseniya’s face.
Her face swelled as a result of Mei’s powerful and consistent hammer fists and punch onslaught which appeared to completely overwhelm her opponent in this second round. The crowd gasped over the electrifying performance of the fight.
By 3 minutes, 13 seconds into round three, Kseniya showed extreme exhaustion from Mei’s unrelenting punches and hammer fists all over her again. The crowd were on their feet as Mei executed a flawless, textbook armbar, the intense pressure of which forced Kseniya to call it quits. The referee stepped in to stop the fight at 3 minutes, 18 seconds. Mei Yamaguchi had dominated the fight to take the win by submission.
Mei then displayed a sportswomanlike spirit by laying at Kseniya’s side indicating the true character of a martial-arts warrior.