Takayo Hashi ventures into Korea for her first match in ROAD FC against newcomer Kim Ji-Yeon on March 9. 2014. The Smackgirl Grappling Champion has a decade in the sport of MMA and has amassed a record of 14-4 throughout promotions in Japan, and even a title shot in Strikeforce. Although she’s a grappling specialist with accolades in ADCC, she’s eager to play the entire range of the MMA game. When she matched Sarah Kaufman for the Strikeforce belt, she was considered number 2 in the world.
Hashi is eager to continue her career well into the upper echelons again. After a couple of years out of the public eye, she now finds herself on the international stage in Korea at ROAD FC, on the same card of an influx of other Japanese fighters from PANCRASE. Hashi will face a newcomer on the scene, but one who already has a boxing and kickboxing career under her belt. Whether or not the bout will play out as striker versus grappler or youth versus experience remains to be seen. MMA-in-ASIA spoke with Hashi before her bout to get her views on this fight, and the state of women’s MMA.
MMA-in-ASIA: What has been your reason for a two year hiatus from MMA?
Hashi: I had an injury before, but now I am completely okay. Also, I had no chances to fight. I wanted to fight, but I never got a chance.
MMA-in-ASIA: In Japan, it seems like more female fighters are retiring and less are coming up. Do you have any thoughts on why?
Hashi: Maybe there are just too many things occupying women in other ways these days.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve been in the sport for a decade, and many fighters are now having longer careers. Do you have any thoughts on retirement yourself?
Hashi: I want to fight until I’m forty.
MMA-in-ASIA: You fought often in Smackgirl which was aruably the originator of women’s MMA. What is your opinion of Invicta?
Hashi: I like it. I really want to fight in Invicta. But I haven’t had the chance to do it yet. I think it’s an important promotion. I think this fight in ROAD FC is very important for me to advance my career in that direction.
MMA-in-ASIA: As for your opponent, did you watch Kim Ji-Yeon’s fight in DEEP?
Hashi: Yes, I did.
MMA-in-ASIA: What was your impression of her?
Hashi: She’s a good striker and she has a strong heart.
MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think is her weak point?
Hashi: Kim JiYeon is a very good fighter. Well, I’m a grappler and she’s a striker. That’s what I think. I haven’t seen much of her grappling game, so I don’t know what it’s like.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you think it will be an easy fight?
Hashi: No, it will be a very tough fight I think.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you think not having seen her grappling poses a problem?
Hashi: No problem. I have many plans. I have a plan for whatever happens.
MMA-in-ASIA: What would you say is a favorite fight you’ve had?
Hashi: I can’t remember. I really don’t have any memory of my fights. Every MMA match it’s the same: I find the weak point and the strong point and then I learn from them and move on to the next fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you have any advice for new female fighters?
Hashi: Ganbatte, please! I’ve been looking for chances to fight for a long time. But every promotion says “no opponent, no opponent”. But I never give up. I have been waiting for a chance for a long, long time. And then it came. So don’t give up. A big chance is coming. Like this time for me in ROAD FC. Keep waiting, keep training, don’t give up. One day, a big chance will come.
MMA-in-ASIA: If you could pick your next fight, who would you want, or who do you think it could be?
Hashi: I don’t have any thoughts on it. I’m only focused on this fight. I will think about that after this fight.
MMA-in-ASIA: With ROAD FC hosting women’s fights and DEEP JEWELS starting to hold regular events, how does this look for women’s MMA growth?
Hashi: If ROAD FC keeps having women’s MMA matches and if DEEP keeps holding the JEWELS events, it will be good. And they should cooperate, that’s most important. Then the fighters will have more chances. Like Ham Soo-Hee.
MMA-in-ASIA: Looking at the women’s MMA level now, the skills are quite high, the young girls are getting better and better. Which part of the training or preparation is the most important part now?
Hashi: The most important point is to win! After that, the most important is having a game plan, a game plan to win. The fighters are smart now. Making a game plan is very difficult because you must know every area: grappling, striking, physical training, jiujitsu.
MMA-in-ASIA: Why do you love MMA?
Hashi: It’s freedom. Doing it is freedom. If I want to strike, it’s okay, if I want to takedown, it’s okay. Or I can finish by armbar, I can. It’s freedom.