Megumi ‘Mega Megu' Fujii
Stats & Numbers:
Height: 5' 3"
DOB: April 26, 1974
Career Record: 26 - 3 (1 TKO, 19 Sub, 6 Decision)
VS Champions/Contenders: 6 - 0
Black belt in Judo
Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
International Master in Sambo
3rd place ADCC under 60 kg, 2005
3rd place ADCC under 60 kg, 2007
Why is she being inducted into the Hall?
Because she is arguably the greatest female mixed martial artist of all time. Megumi Fujii started her MMA career 22-0 and likely would have retired undefeated but for terrible judging. The first loss of her career to Zoila Frausto-Gurgel is a pile of turd-sticks. Fujii clearly won at least 3 rounds but lost a split decision. Her next loss to Jessica Aguilar was also a bad decision though it was at least closer than the Frausto-Gurgel fight. Finally, in Fujii's retirement bout (and final loss) she was not screwed by the judges but instead was eye poked twice in the first round by Aguilar. The pokes were so bad it appeared that Fujii would be unable to continue but after a lengthy break she opted to fight on, likely because this was the final fight of her career and ending on a No Contest would be unsatisfying.
The end was still unsatisfying though as after completing 2 rounds with 50% visibility, the doctor stopped the bout due to the damaged eye, resulting in a technical decision victory for Aguilar. In a just world, "Mega Megu" would have retired with an undefeated record, going 28-0, 1 NC over her 9 year career. Like I said with Kid Yamamoto, if you go undefeated for six years and are widely considered the best fighter in your weight class and pound-for-pound, you get to make it into the Hall of Almost Fame.
Fujii's background is almost entirely grappling-based. As a child she began learning Judo from her father. In college she picked up on Russian Sambo as well which led her to wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Eventually she found her way into MMA when she was 30 years old. She was initially reluctant to enter into MMA because of the striking component but was ultimately convinced to do so by her longtime friend and mentor former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.
For MMA, Fujii trained out of the Abe Ani Combat Club gym lead by Shooto veteran Hiroyuki Abe. She also trained extensively with Barnett and former Shooto light heavyweight champion Erik Paulson. Barnett could be seen cornering Fujii in all of her fights and was an enormous influence on her. Her dynamic and aggressive grappling game with an emphasis on submission and leg locks can be traced back to her catch wrestling work with Barnett.
All of this is to say that Fujii entered into MMA with an excellent knowledge of grappling and a solid team behind her but not the type of pre-fighting CV that would portend future all-world greatness.
What was her game like?
Dynamic. After all, you don't get the nickname "Queen of the Quick Kill" for no reason. Fujii submitted 15 of her opponents in the first round. Her ground attack was diverse and exciting and she snatched up limbs in transition like a whirling dervish who hated the hell out of arms. Basically, Fujii was the female version of Kazushi Sakuraba.
Mega Megu was an above-average wrestler who could do a little bit of everything, but her bread was buttered in the clinch where she could put her judo black belt to good use. Fujii's premier move was the uchi mata which she hit on dozens of women over the course of her career.
This was in Fujii's second ever MMA bout where she face Erica Montoya, one of the premier 115 pounders in the world. Montoya was only 20 years old but had already amassed a 6-1 record, her only loss coming to Smackgirl champion Yuka Tsuji. There was even talk that the UFC would bring her in to fight Shelby Walker at UFC 51 such was her perceived star power, and Fuji came in an beat her, though narrowly. This ended up being Montoya's final fight, losing a close decision to Fujii in large part due to Fujii's ability to take Montoya down and control the action on top.
Here Fujii is again hitting the same throw against Keiko Tamai only this time it isn't quite as clean, forcing Fujii into a scramble for top position which works in favor of Fujii, who was likely the best scrambler in WMMA. This was one of the most difficult things about facing Fujii - even if she didn't get clean looks at takedowns, she was such a proficient scrambler that her sub-optimal attempts at taking opponents down usually resulted in her winding up in a good position.
She wasn't exclusively a judo practitioner though. Fujii was also a very solid wrestler, particularly in comparison to her opponents. Fujii favored a head outside single leg but also had a good double leg takedown both from outside and as a reactive shot. But that stuff is boring. You know what's not boring? This.
I mean honestly, what the hell is even happening here? Poor Karla Benitez sure doesn't know and she ends up on the bottom, soon to be armbarred. This is the type of dynamic grappling that Fujii possessed. Even on failed attempts Fujii found a way to get the fight where she wanted it.
In a word: dope. Fujii did not ascribe to the grappling tenet of "position before submission." In fact she was more than willing to jump for subs with reckless abandon, knowing that even if she missed she would wind up in a scramble which is where she thrived. Sure, this style of aggro grappling cost her some opportunities but it also opened up more chances for finishes like this one.
Why yes that is future UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza getting absolutely tooled on the ground. The moral of this story is that Fujii's grappling was freaking lethal and any exchanges with her were a losing proposition.
Ummm. It existed I guess. Real talk, for the vast majority of her career Fujii's striking never really showed up. Mostly she was a grappling demon who threw the most rudimentary of punches. Later in her career she began showing more stand-up, especially in her bout with Zoila Frausto which she spent the majority of on her feet and also spent the majority of it boxing Frausto's ears. Other than that there isn't much to say. Fujii had a good chin and threw a lot of volume in big combinations with some decent pop, but there wasn't a ton of craft on the feet.
Are you sure you didn't leave anything out you long-winded duffer?
One of Fujii's favorite moves was a toe hold dubbed the Megulock. Here she uses it to snap Serrin Murray's ankle like a twig. I'm telling you this woman was not to be trifled with.
Why didn't she ever get a title shot?
That is a great question. My guess is for the same reason she often fought overmatched competition: nobody wanted to take that loss. Fujii put together one of the most impressive runs in MMA history and yet never challenged Yuka Tsuji for the Smackgirl title despite it being one of the most anticipated match ups in WMMA.
How would she have matched up with the champion?
Which champion are we talking about here? The most obvious one is Yuka Tsuji the only ever Smackgirl 115 lb. champion, but it would have also been feasible for Fujii to cross paths with Miku Matsumoto the Deep 115 lbs champion or Satoko Shinashi the Deep 100 lb champion (Fujii walked around near 118 lbs and could likely have made the cut). I guess it doesn't really matter because Fujii would be favored over all of them.
All three of the above women were primarily grapplers and Fujii was just better at it. Not that MMA math is a great metric but Tsuji got her back taken and choked out by Mei Yamaguchi who Fujii dominated in her last official career win. Matsumoto got tapped by Lisa Ellis and Misaki Takimoto respectively, whereas Fujii armbarred the two of them three times collectively. Shinashi may have been the best-equipped of the three to handle the dynamic grappling of Fujii but she would have also been giving up 15 lbs, so I feel confident in saying Fujii could have been collecting belts had anyone been willing to fight her.
What was her best performance? What highlight reel fight of her should I watch?
Her entire career was a highlight reel. She has 19 submission in her 26 wins, 15 of which were in the first round. Some of here more dynamic moments I have giffed above but aside from those go watch her bout with Zoila Frausto. In it you can see her striking game, her ability to come back from getting rocked, and at the end she finally shows off some of that dynamic grappling game which she is so well known for.
Who do you wish she would have fought but never did?
Yuka Tsuji is the clear choice here. They are two of the most successful female fighters of all time and they competed in the same weight class at the same time. That they never fought is a travesty and it would have been phenomenally fun. Tsuji was the better wrestler but Fujii's judo game and aggressive work off her back would've eventually led to her taking Tsuji's back and closing it out.
Also, just for funsies, a bout between prime Fujii and current Rose Namajunas could have the type of scrambles that get your heart rate up.
Any final thoughts?
As I said above, in a just world Fujii would have retired undefeated and as the number 1 pound for pound woman in MMA. Even still, she went a mind boggling 22-0 to start her career and was undefeated against all six future/former champions and title contenders she ever faced. She is unarguably one of the five best women to ever compete in MMA and quite possibly the best ever. Moreover, she is a trailblazer for women's MMA and I can think of no better woman to be the first inductee into the Hall of Almost Fame. We tip our cap to you Madam Fujii. Welcome to the Hall.
And now to address the elephant in the room: Michael Bisping, the inaugural member and namesake of this hallowed Hall is fighting for the UFC middleweight championship this weekend. While I maintain that he never would have received a title shot had Weidman not pulled out, the fact remains that once Bisping makes that walk on Saturday night this Hall will have to be renamed. Now while I am the Lord High Commander of this thing, this seems an opportune moment to enlist the help and involvement of you the readers, so below is a poll on what to rename this Hall of Almost Fame. Let me know what you're feeling or sound off in the comments if you have a better idea than is in the polls and we will go from there.