At the age of 18, Mizuki Inoue is one of Japan’s top prospects. Training out of Hakushinkai Karate, Mizuki appeared on the professional scene in 2010. Facing much older and more experienced fighters, she won her debut fights in Kickboxing and MMA defeating veteran Emi Fujino and Emi Murata. Mizuki’s prowess on the feet and on the ground were quickly noted. In just her 3rd professional MMA fight, she was pitted against Jewels Champion and undefeated Ayaka Hamasaki. Mizuki may have lost the fight by Unanimous Decision but she kept the fight competitive and gained the respect of Hamasaki. In an interview, Hamasaki stated that Mizuki is the toughest opponent she has ever faced.
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Having faced a champion in MMA, Mizuki then got the opportunity to face off against another champion. This time in Shoot Boxing. Then champion, Ai Takahashi was preparing to make her return to Shoot Boxing after recovering from a facial injury. Mizuki was to be her first fight back. When the fight started, Takahashi had a smile on her face. 4 rounds later it was gone. Mizuki used her speed and head movement to keep distance and repeatedly tag Takahashi to the face and body, taking the victory after an extension round. Having only been 1-1 in Shoot Boxing before this fight, Mizuki was now in the Shoot Boxing spot light.
Not one to take a break, Mizuki’s next fight was scheduled a month after her fight with Takahashi. This time a MMA fight against Australian stand-out, Alexandra Chambers, then 2-0. Going into the fight, riding high after her Shoot Boxing victory, Mizuki used her more technical striking to avoid Chambers’s strikes and was able to get trip takedowns multiple times from the clinch. At one point in the fight, Mizuki was able to reach full-mount. However, due to Jewels not allowing strikes to the head of a downed opponent, the position was wasted and the referee stood them up. Mizuki quickly got another takedown and was reversed after going for an armbar. It did not matter as she still have a hold on the arm and submitted Chambers, her first loss. I had the opportunity to speak with Chambers after the fight, who told me that she was shocked at Mizuki’s physical strength.
Following a successful return to MMA, Mizuki fought against Mina in Shoot Boxing. The victor would guarantee themself a spot in the Girl’s S-Cup to face off against the winner of Ai Takahashi and Rio Kamikaze. The fight was not without some drama. Before the fight, Mina was not able to make weight. Initially the fight was going to be canceled, but Mizuki wanted to compete. She also turned down Shoot Boxing’s offer to have Mina fight in larger, heavier gloves. In the end, Mina was given red cards before the fight and would not advance to the tournament no matter the outcome. To win the fight, all Mizuki had to do was not get finished because of Mina’s point penalization. It didn’t matter. Mizuki avoided Mina’s powerful strikes with superior footwork and head movement. She picked the over aggressive Mina to pieces with counters and jabs to the face. As the fight went on, Mina began to bleed more and more from a badly damaged nose. The more she bled, the more aggressive she became. As a result, Mizuki was able to open up even more. The referee called a halt to the fight in the 3rd round because of Mina’s badly damaged nose.
Having defeated Mina, Mizuki assured her slot in the Girl’s S-Cup. Ai Takahashi beat Rio Kamikaze to set up a rematch between the two. This time, Mizuki proved that the first match was not a fluke. She opened up on the slower Takahashi and countered her throughout the fight. After four rounds, knowing how Shoot Boxing judges are, it was obvious that the fight was going another round. In the final round, Mizuki took control of the round winning the tournament and winning her 1st Shoot Boxing Championship. After the fight an emotional Mizuki addressed the crowd about how she wants to work towards getting a MMA belt too.
So, in order to make her dream of having a MMA belt too, Mizuki next fought against Korean Striker Hyo Kyung Song. This fight marked the first time Mizuki fought in a cage. It also was fought under special Jewels rules, which allows strikes to the head of a grounded opponent.The Korean initially took Mizuki off guard by opening up aggressively. However, Mizuki adjusted, landed some strikes of her own and took Song down. Despite surviving 2 armbars in the 1st round, Mizuki proved that the 3rd time is the charm ending the fight in the 2nd round.
So what is there for Mizuki in the future? As one of Japan’s top prospects, in the very tough strawweight division, there are a lot of options. She can continue to spread herself out and compete in Shoot Boxing and MMA, much like veteran fighters V.V Mei and Ham Seo Hee, or she can concentrate on one or the other. With her desire to get a belt in MMA, she is probably going to fight in more MMA fights. This writer would personally like to see Mizuki start taking fights abroad. Perhaps a fight for Australia’s Brace for War. A fight for them would be good for her to become accustomed to international competition and Unified Rules. After that it would be awesome if Invicta FC would take advantage of their deal with Jewels and bring Mizuki over for a fight. Perhaps a fight against Michelle Watterson or Lacey Shuckman. However, this is all wishful thinking.