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At RIZIN 26, Miyuu Yamamoto returns to the ring to take on Ayaka Hamasaki for the vacant RIZIN atomweight title. Yamamoto is a three time women’s freestyle World Champion who has made the transition over to mixed martial arts.
It was at the behest of Nobuyuki Sakakibara that Yamamoto made the transition from freestyle wrestling to MMA. She could not recognize her Olympic dream and it was Sakakibara that came to her about the transition.
“I was aiming for the Olympics on the Canadian team but it didn’t work out. I’ve always wanted to be involved with wrestling but it was hard for me to stay motivated with the situation I was in. At that time Sakakibara san approached me and asked if I was interested in making a transition. I thought the timing was right and this was meant to be so I made my choice.”
Outside of fighting and wrestling, Miyuu Yamamoto is a huge coffee fan. Her husband owns coffee shops in Guam and that has found a passion in coffee that she will pursue after fighting.
“I like to brew my own coffee. My husband Kyle owns two coffee shops in Guam and was influenced by him. I hope that one day I can open up my own coffee shop in Japan. Right now is probably not the right time but I want to travel around the world and visit many coffee bean farms and study it’s roots.”
Miyuu Yamamoto vs. Ayaka Hamasaki at RIZIN 26
Ayaka Hamasaki has a lot more mixed martial arts experience over Yamamoto. With a 20-3 record, Miyuu Yamamoto will need to rely on her experience in wrestling to make this fight one of her favor. “Speed and power,” Yamamoto says when asked how she’s planning on using her skills to beat her opponent.
Yamamoto used the COVID-19 pandemic pandemic as an opportunity to get better. Since turning pro in 2016, Miyuu Yamamoto has fought at least twice a year and four times in 2019. The pandemic break gave her some time to take a step back, work on where her game needed work, and become a better martial artist.
“It gave me time to raising my basic skills,” said Yamamoto. “I was fighting quite frequently so I didn’t really have time to work on making my basic skills better. I was always getting ready for a fight. So this was good for me.”
RIZIN gave Miyuu Yamamoto an opportunity to express herself in a different way than freestyle wrestling has. Turning pro with RIZIN, the motions are different for Yamamoto, but the desire to express herself is all the same.
“Before, I would use the wrestling mat to express myself, but now that platform has changed to the RIZIN ring. It’s quite simple. I still am looking to put on a good performance and show people what I can do.”
As for what to expect, Yamamoto wants to display her skills at RIZIN 26 the best she can and represent herself well. “I hope to be able to show a fight that represents me.”