Bye, ONE! Hello, RIZIN! ‘V.V Mei’ Details Promotional Transition
“In ONE Championship, I am fighting in the same promotion, but if you go to a different country a small thing is so different because of the cultural background.”
Mei Yamaguchi’s six-year run with ONE Championship has come to an end.
After a March 2022 grappling match draw against Danielle Kelly at ONE: X, Japan’s Yamaguchi was ready to head home. The 40-year-old 36-fight veteran has since parted ways with the company and now joins the RIZIN Fighting Federation roster, where she’ll debut at RIZIN Landmark 5 on April 30, 2023, opposite perennial top-ranked Atomweight, Kanna Asakura.
“I was always looking for a chance to fight for RIZIN, but if I have a contract with ONE Championship I cannot,” Yamaguchi told MMA Mania on BROADENED HORIZIN. “Thinking about my career, I really wanted to finish fighting in Japan. So, I talked to ONE Championship and they showed a lot of respect for what I think. I asked for my termination and they allowed that. There was a lot of understanding.
“It was an honor to be in those big events,” she continued. “It was pretty fun fighting around Asia. In ONE Championship, I am fighting in the same promotion, but if you go to a different country a small thing is so different because of the cultural background.”
Yamaguchi (21-14-1) has fought damn near every legend and pioneer imaginable at 115 pounds or lighter. Beginning her career in March 2007 as a member of the now-defunct SmackGirl roster, “V.V” understands that she’s finally winding down her career on this final stretch with RIZIN.
“I don’t know, one or two years [left], but I really want to show everything in RIZIN,” Yamaguchi said. “I want all the fans — especially in Japan, especially at my age — to give a lot of power to those people in my career.
“Angela Lee the second time. That’s the only fight that I really thought I won,” she said when asked which fight she wishes she could get back.
The Asakura match up will mark Yamaguchi’s first fight below 115 pounds since her final Deep Jewels bout in 2015. When stepping foot in the RIZIN ring, the unfinishable veteran will look to continue her trend of never being stopped and snap the only three-fight losing skid of her career.
“I think it’s a very good matchup,” Yamaguchi said. “Because Kanna needs to show what she’s learned from RIZIN, what she’s done in her career, and I have to show what I’ve done outside Japan. That’s what everyone wants to see. So, it’s pretty exciting.
“I trained with her once, so I kind of understand how it feels [against her]. It’s fun,” she concluded.
Watch the full episode in the video embedded above or you can listen on Spotify.
BROADENED HORIZIN Ep. 25 AUDIO – 以下の日本語版: