The Tokyo native survived some difficult moments against Kseniya “The Tigress” Lachkova in their women’s atomweight match-up. But ultimately, she controlled her rival and finished her at Japan’s Ryogoku Kokugikan on Sunday, 31 March.
Hometown hero Mei Yamaguchi overcomes a tough start and submits Kseniya Lachkova with a slick armbar at 3:18 of Round 3! Watch the full event on the ONE Super App http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Sunday, March 31, 2019
Yamaguchi started aggressively, but the reach advantage of Lachkova was telling, as she used her jab to counter and keep her rival at bay.
The DEEP Jewels Featherweight World Champion switched things up midway through the first round by ducking under the Russian’s punches to attempt a single-leg takedown against the cage.
She switched to a body lock when the promotional newcomer stubbornly stayed on her feet, but it was “The Tigress” who ended up taking the contest to the canvas with a trip.
However, Yamaguchi was back to her feet in a flash. She moved forward and unloaded some punches in the waning seconds of the period, but paid for her aggression when she was taken to the mat.
Round two began with “V.V.” driving her rival against the fence. After a minute and a half of pressure, she found the double-leg she was looking for to score a big takedown.
The 36-year-old had to be careful in top position, however, as Lachkova maintained an active guard.
When “The Tigress” switched her hips and appeared to lock up an armbar, gasps could be heard from Japanese fans around the arena. The Russian was a little too high on the arm to finish, however.
Once she escaped, Yamaguchi resumed her attack with heavy punches to the head and body to dominate the rest of the round.
The final frame began with a different complexion, as Yamaguchi found a home for her punches.
She exploded forward with powerful strikes – including a particularly effective overhand right – and a tiring Lachkova was no longer sharp enough to counter.
“The Tigress” was then a sitting duck for a charging double-leg takedown, but she threatened again with a triangle choke from her back when she was on the ground. However, the hometown hero shrugged off the attempt with ease to move into side control.
From there, she transitioned to mount and stepped over to secure a tight armbar, which forced the tap at the 3:18 mark of the final stanza.
“She had very hard punches, and I was struggling at first. But everyone who was shouting ‘Yamaguchi’ made me stronger, better, helped me overcome my problems, and win the match,” she told ONE commentator Mitch Chilson in the cage after her hand was raised.
“Usually, women’s athletes have very flexible arms, so it took a little courage for her to take the risk to finish the armlock. But due to the crowd’s cheering, I had to do it, and I had to win.”
Yamaguchi’s second victory in a row improved her professional record to 19-11-1 and solidified her position as one of the leading contenders in the women’s atomweight division.