Promoted to the Front Page by Anton Tabuena -- Originally posted at HeadKickLegend.com
Shootboxing has announced a new fight for their Girls S-Cup show on August 29, and it is one to watch for. In an
MMA rules fight, US Olympic wrestler Randi Miller will make her MMA debut against Hiroko Yamanaka.
A 63kg bronze medalist in freestyle at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Miller brings in a pedigree rarely seen in women's MMA so far. Her decision to enter the world of MMA should be incredibly exciting to any fan of women's MMA, as part of the sport's growing success has come from an increasing ability to bring in top level athletes at the peak of their career. For women's MMA to acquire an Olympic medalist is a huge step, and should provide even more of the legitimacy the women's divisions rightly deserve.
While some may be surprised to see Miller making her debut in Japan, I see this as a very smart move that speaks volumes to her commitment to an MMA career. Because of her credentials, Miller likely could have made her debut on a Strikeforce level event. But because of the lack of depth in US women's MMA, a Strikeforce debut would have put Miller on the fast track up the career ladder. Instead of taking the time to build her talents against a progressively tougher stream of opponents, she would likely have been quickly pushed into feature bouts where she would be faced with a mountain of expectation. But this is not always the recipe for success, as King Mo's defeat this weekend demonstrates.
Instead, by starting off in Japan, Miller is taking a slower start to her career. The Japanese women's scene is much more robust than its American counterpart, and Miller will have a chance to hone her skills away from the glaring eye of televised cards. Additionally, as a wrestler, Japan is a great place for her to make her mark. Because of their lack of weight cutting, and the fact that they do not emphasize wrestling skills as a country, Japanese fighters often struggle against high level wrestlers. Miller is not only a very skilled wrestler, she also had been training with Matt Hughes at the H.I.T. Squad, so should be well adapted to using wrestling in an MMA setting. I could see her having great success in Japan, which could allow her to make a bigger impact when she does eventually make her move to the US. Coming in as an Olympic wrestler is one thing. Coming in as an Olympic wrestler who has been winning big in Japan and has the highlight reel to show it is something else entirely, and could make her a legitimate star.
That said, Miller is indeed jumping in against a tough opponent. Hiroko is a veteran of Japan's Smackgirl and Jewels organizations where she has picked up an impressive 9-1-1 record, including a recent win over the tough Hitomi Akano (a finalist in the recent Strikeforce Challengers tournament). She is a very tough test, and will provide a great learning opportunity for Miller. But again, if Miller loses, she has the ability to learn from the loss while not having her reputation too tarnished by a loss on a more widely seen event in the US.
The debut of Randi Miller is definitely a fight to watch. In the new era of women's MMA, she is the most decorated athlete to make the move to MMA, and could represent a real force to watch out for. We'll see how well she adapts in her first fight out, and what her next step will be from there.
Watch video of Miller competing at the 2008 nationals.
--Photo via Life.com