Paving the Way: A Look Back on the Career of Megumi Fujii Corey Adams July 19, 2013 News In the women’s MMA and Japanese MMA communities, Megumi Fujii is considered a legend. Before Cristiano “Cyborg” Justino came onto the scene, Fujii was the baddest woman on the planet. Before Ronda Rousey ever submitted an opponent by armbar, Fujii racked up 18 submission victories. Last month, Megumi Fujii announced she would be hanging up her gloves after fighting one last time on Oct. 5 in a Vale Tudo event in Tokyo, Japan. The retirement announcement was overlooked by many casual mixed martial arts fans, but those who have followed this individual’s career over the years know the women’s side of the sport wouldn’t be where it is without her. The 39-year-old accomplished a rare feat by winning 22 fights in a row from 2004-2010. Not only did she defeat all 22 of those opponents, she dominated them, with only three of the bouts going to the judges’ scorecards. This in itself earned her a reputation for being a legendary competitor, but this is only a small slice of what she has meant to other women in the sport. When Fujii began her career, there weren’t near the amount of women competing in MMA as we see today. Fujii was introduced to mixed martial arts by fellow Japanese fighters Hiroyuki Abe and Hitomi Akano, as well as former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. After learning from three knowledgeable people, Fujii passed on the advice she to other up-and-coming female fighters. Yasuko Tamada and Jewels 115-pound champion and Invicta veteran Ayaka Hamasaki train under Fujii. The retiring fighter has been a mentor to both women for years, which has made a huge impact on their careers. Hamasaki was undefeated prior to her recent Invicta fight against Claudia Gadelha and Tamada resurrected a career that started with a 1-4-2 record and captured gold under the Valkyrie banner. Fujii has not only made an impact on Japanese women, though. Women around the world have looked up to her as an influence for them to strap on the gloves and fight. Even though people didn’t get to see her fights often, considering the majority of them were in Japan, the name was still very well known. When she signed to compete in the Bellator 115-pound tournament in 2010, it gave fans the opportunity to finally witness her in action. Fujii made her Bellator debut by defeating Sarah Schneider, then submitted current Invicta FC strawweight champion Carla Esparza and Lisa Ellis to advance to the tournament finals with a chance to claim something she has never held: a world title. “Mega Megu” fell to Zoila Frausto Gurgel by split decision, but it was a controversial fight that many felt should have been awarded to Fujii. Regardless, Fujii was handed her first defeat, ending her streak. After winning her next three fights in Japan, Fujii stepped back inside the Bellator cage two years removed from her title loss. She fought rising fighter Jessica Aguilar and lost by unanimous decision. This was the only time Fujii was defeated via unanimous decision in her career, which is very impressive considering the amount of fights and quality opponents she has squared off against. In the fight with Aguilar, it appeared her age was beginning to show. Fujii has had nagging injuries over the years which also may have played a role. But all in all, she has been able to battle through them and find success, including a win over Mei Yamaguchi, one of the top strawweights in the world, in December of last year. Whether Fujii wins or loses in her upcoming fight in October against an opponent still to be determined, her legacy has already been cemented. Although she never earned a MMA title in her nine years of fighting, she won on 26 occasions and her legacy is one of greatness. She inspired so many other women to compete and win championships of their own, while also paving the way for women’s mixed martial arts to reach new heights. Photo: Megumi Fujii (Taro Irei/Sherdog) Don Excellent article!! We will miss her… Corey Adams Thank you sir. We certainly will. Dustin Excellent article!! Huge Megumi fan from USA – New Jersey!