Rin Nakai will be back in action at Deep-Jewels 40. The Japanese flyweight has been matched with Aoi Kuriyama in Tokyo on February 18th.
Nakai has won her last nine fights and has been very vocal about wanting a second chance to fight for the UFC. While her recent form is impressive many of the wins have come against restively inexperienced opponents and she will be a strong favourite again at Deep-Jewels 40:
2023年2月18日（土）に新宿FACEで開催する『skyticket Presents DEEP JEWELS 40』の追加カードが決定いたしました。
DEEP JEWELSフライ級 5分3R
・中井りん（修斗道場四国）VS 栗山葵（SMOKER GYM） pic.twitter.com/kZaPBsYoBb
— DEEP/DEEP JEWELS OFFICAL (@jewels_deep) January 9, 2023
Nakai (25-2-1) fought twice for the UFC as a bantamweight and was beaten by decision on both occasions. They remain the only two losses of the 35 year old’s career, she has never lost a fight at flyweight.
Since leaving the UFC she has scored notable victories over Kanako Murata and Shizuka Sugiyama. But four of her last nine opponent have not had winning records.
Kuriyama (4-4-1) does at least come into this contest on the back of two straight decision wins. All but one of her nine fights have been the distance.
Nakai was crowned the promotion’s flyweight champion when she beat Sugiyama to win the 125lbs Grand Prix at Deep-Jewels 37. But that title will not be on the line at Shinjuku Face next month.
— IridiumSportsAgency (@TeamIridiumISA) December 22, 2022
Last month Nakai signed with the Iridium Sports Agency which also represents UFC stars like Tatsuro Taira and The Korean Zombie. She is clearly hoping the agency will be able to help secure her a return to the octagon
Ji Yeon Kim is currently the only Asian fighter competing in the UFC’s flyweight division. The Korean has lost her last four fights by decision but earned bonuses during two of those defeats.
Nakai is entitled to feel she is worthy of a place on the roster based purely on her recent results. But she is clearly running out of opponents in Japan and a win over Kuriyama is unlikely to change the minds of the matchmakers if they are reluctant to sign her.