Has Rin Nakai earned a second UFC opportunity?
Rin Nakai submitted two opponents in a the space of a single afternoon to become the Deep-Jewels flyweight champion on Saturday. The Japanese fighter has won nine straight fights since being released by the UFC.
Nakai has made it very clear she wants another run at UFC glory. Having won every single fight since being handed her walking papers in 2016 it is difficult to see what more the 35 year old could do.
Nakai’s two submission wins at Deep-Jewels 37 on Saturday are even more impressive when you consider that she was injured. The veteran announced on Twitter that she was unable to use her striking skills due to an undisclosed impairment:
— Rin Nakai 中井りん (@RinNakai2) May 8, 2022
Injured and unwell
Nakai states that,
“I was injured and I wasn’t feeling well (but) today I had to throw away all the striking techniques and win with a ground fight.”
Nakai’s record currently stands at 25-2-1 and she is on a nine fight winning streak. She has some impressive names on her recent resume including Kanako Murata, Raika Emiko and Shizuka Sugiyama.
Murata would go on to be signed by the UFC having captured the Invicta FC flyweight title. This is a well trodden route and one which Nakai might look to go down.
Mizuki Inoue, another Deep-Jewels veteran, fought six times for Invicta FC before signing with the UFC. She wasn’t even particularly successful, losing three of those six fights.
Jinh Yu Frey, a Road FC and Rizin veteran, was snapped up by the UFC after winning the Invicta FC atomweight title. Given that the UFC already has a flyweight division you would think Nakai would be an appealing signing.
During her brief stint with the UFC she only managed two fights in three years. Nakai was undefeated when she signed but lost both her bouts by decision.
Nakai wasn’t given an easy ride by the UFC matchmakers though. Her losses came at the expense of Miesha Tate, who would go on to capture the bantamweight belt, and Leslie Smith, who would go on to challenge for the Bellator featherweight title.
Four months later Nakai would return as a flyweight and she hasn’t looked back. The 35 year old must be wondering how she would fare against the current crop of UFC 125lbers.
Nakai doesn’t appear to have had any problems making the flyweight limit and, having gone the distance against two top UFC bantamweights. she would probably hold her own in the 125lbs division. But time is not on her side and she turns 36 in October.
We definitely didn’t see the best of Nakai during her UFC run as a bantamweight. She is desperate to get a second chance and the matchmakers must be impressed by her nine fight winning streak.