Top atomweight contender Megumi Sugimoto returns to the cage on at Shooto 1123 on Monday. She faces Satomi Takano and plans to adopt a more aggressive style in a bid to return to winning ways.
Sugimoto says she learned valuable lessons from that loss,
“From my defeat I learnt that inside the cage it is all about being in the moment and being committed to winning,” said the 30-year-old who has a background in wrestling.
In order to move forward, sometimes a fighter has to look backwards, admit their shortcomings and correct their mistakes before they return to competition.
That notion is not lost on Sugimoto.
“I’m using my defeat as motivation, it’s a tool that makes me work harder than ever. I plan to fight more aggressively, I think that can steer me to victory this time.”
The Kanagawa-based fighter, who made her pro debut in 2013, has to combine her fighting career with her family commitments,
“About two years after I started MMA, I had my first child, my daughter, in 2014. My son was born in 2016,” she said.
Sugimoto put her career on hold to start a family with her partner and coach Hiroyuki Abe, a veteran of Pride and Shooto, who later founded AACC and steered the career of Japanese standouts such as the legendary Megumi Fujii.
Sugimoto says it feels good to be back,
“I had a child and had been away from martial arts for about seven years, so it was very difficult to get my strength back but it’s a good feeling now.”
The renowned AACC gym is home to many of Japan’s leading female talents such as former Rizin Super Atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki and the growth of Sugimoto as a mixed martial artist has undoubtedly been accelerated by the quality of her training partners.
“The AACC gym has a high level group of female players, so I think it’s the best training environment. We can work each other and improve each other, so we can practice very well every day.”
Those who follow AACC on social media platforms will have seen that Sugimoto’s children, Kyle and Koyuru, have caught the family training bug and are active in the club’s hugely popular children’s wrestling sessions.
“It has become commonplace for the family to go to the gym together,” said Sugimoto.
“There was a wrestling practice for the children before my practice, and when it was over, then it was my turn and my children encouraged me a lot. Sometimes I feel sorry that we’re all together at late times in the gym.”
Sugimoto has seen her children make the AACC gym their second home and is aware of how much they can learn in such a setting and revealed what lessons she wishes to pass on to them through her MMA career.
“I’m always practicing and fighting, I’m always striving to improve,” said Sugimoto after taking some time to think about her answer.
“I think we can show the importance of practicing and how it leads to the fight. I would like to think about it in my own way and connect it to my matches and reflect on it as my career progresses.”
On Monday Sugimoto will face Satomi Takana a noted catch wrestling and judo fighter, with 25 fights on her resume in an intriguing looking match-up at Korakuen Hall.
The fight will take place at 51kgs which is new territory for AACC’s latest female competitor but Sugimoto is unperturbed by the experience of her rival and the challenge of a new weight category.
“I think Tanaka is a veteran of MMA for many years, she’s been a professional fighter longer than me but I don’t really care about it. It’s my first time to fight at 51 kilograms but I don’t have to cut much weight.”
She asked for the fans to come out and support her on Monday,
“I’ll practice hard until the end as usual and ask everyone to please come out and support me on Monday.”