Tuesday, August 06, 2013

HIROKO announces retirement

Japanese female MMA fighter HIROKO announced her retirement on her blog today. The announcement was not particularly surprising as her career was at a dead end. Like a lot of female fighters, HIROKO got into MMA by accident in 2006. She was a dominatrix and started training for fitness. But she liked it and made her MMA debut in May 2006 for Smackgirl. HIROKO is unusual because she is almost six feet tall and most Japanese female fighters are a lot smaller. In those days, Smackgirl had an Open Weight division and fighters could weigh 145lbs and up. She won her first four fights concluding with winning the Smackgirl Open Weight Championship from Yoko Takahashi on Sept. 6, 2007. She suffered her first loss in her next fight to Hitomi Akano. Akano was much smaller than HIROKO but was a more skilled fighter. And that was always going to be a problem for HIROKO. The skill level of Japanese fighters in her weight class has never been very good. I guess it was in 2008 around when JEWELS bought SMACKGIRL that HIROKO started talking about fighting in the US. JEWELS ended the Open Weight class and after that, HIROKO fought at 145lbs. She avenged her loss to Akano with a split decision win on the Mar. 19, 2010 JEWELS show. She also switched dojos from BCREW to Master Japan run by former UFC fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka. She made a mistake that a lot of Japanese fighters make. She thought that her Japanese training would adequately prepare her to fight in the US. So Strikeforce signed HIROKO to fight their 145lb champ Cris Cyborg. Until then, HIROKO had never fought in a cage and in Japan usually fought two five minute rounds. So HIROKO may have been game but she needed to train in the US for an extended time period to adequately prepare her for Cris Cyborg. Cyborg clobbered HIROKO in seventeen seconds but the match was declared a no contest when Cyborg tested positive for steroids. She lost her second Strikeforce fight to Germaine De Randamie. And then she suffered a broken orbital bone in a loss to Ediane Gomes on the Jan. 5, 2013 Invicta show. It had been rumoured for a while that HIROKO would retire. Her career was at a dead end. There was little competition for her in Japan and in order to become competitive in the US, she would have to leave Japan to train. If she had done that five years ago, she could have got sponsorship. It's very unlikely she could get sponsorship today. So she decided to retire. HIROKO is 34 years old. I understand she will still train and her full time job is at a sporting goods store. It's always sad when a fighter retires but sometimes it's the best decision. All the best to her.

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