Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey is the current 'It Girl' of Women's MMA, combining her ability to collect arms with that of a savvy social media and publicity presence. With Gina Carano missing in action, the attractive American Olympic Judo Bronze medalist has effortlessly taken the reigns and become the new face of her sport. Her domination of all opponents, including former champion Miesha Tate, will lead some to believe she's the current Pound For Pound Queen and the best in the world.
For many years previously though, a lighter-weight fighter had been competing and winning, amassing 22 wins in a row, with no losses over the course of 6 years. But because of the majority of her fights happening in small promotions, mostly in Japan, and the lack of attention Women's MMA typically gets, not many outside of an Internet literate hardcore knew anything about her.
Megumi Fujii is, as it stands, perhaps the best Women's MMA fighter of all time. The Judo / Sambo / Catch Wrestling Specialist is a submission magician and had a chance to make waves in America in 2010's Bellator 115lbs (Strawweight) Women's Tournament. Two submissions and a TKO got Fujii into the tournament final, but the championship bout with Zoila Frausto-Gurgel was to be her undoing.
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Perhaps wanting to prove she was multi-faceted and a true mixed martial artist, Fujii chose to keep the fight standing and attempt to out-strike her larger Muay Thai specialist opponent. What surprised many, was Fujii was seemingly able to, making it competitive and bloodying and bruising the face of Frausto. Unfortunately the perennial weed that is bad judging reared its ugly head, and many believe Fujii ended up on the bad side of a split-decision. More than the judging though, Fujii's choice of strategy came under the most scrutiny; her tactics even frustrating her coach Josh Barnett. Many questioned why she didn't take the fight to the ground when she had the clear advantage, and could well have finished.
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If Fujii had generated a small amount of buzz from her participation in the tournament, it was almost as quickly forgotten as she returned to compete in Japan. With that loss, Cristiane Santos was heralded as the women's pound for pound best, until at least her PED positive test scandal had her suspended for a year. Meanwhile, Fujii had rattled off another 3 wins making her career record to date 25-1.
Frausto-Gurgel was jubilant in her win over Fujii, but had made it clear she would likely not fight at 115lbs again, preferring to compete in her more natural weight class of 125lbs or higher. Due to time away from the sport as well since getting married,
the 115lbs title had to be vacated, and is up for grabs tonight at Bellator 69 when Fujii takes on Jessica Aguilar in a feature fight, who had also suffered a split decision loss for Frausto-Gurgel.
At 38 years old, time could be running out for Fujii to make her mark on the American market. Unfortunately without the might of Zuffa behind her for promotional purposes, she may become ignored due to the historical revisionism that can occur when one super power in promotion dominates the landscape.
Between you and me, she'll always be the best.