Megumi Fujii has the most developed grappling game of the bunch. She trains out of Abe Ani Combat Club in Japan, and with Josh Barnett, the king of catch wrestling himself. She holds a blackbelt in jiu jitsu, and since she has a black belt in Judo as well it’s not difficult for her to take things to the ground. Fujii has lightening quick submissions, including the Megulock (aka toe hold). She was a Pan Am Champion in 2004 and 2006, and in 2005 and 2007 she won third place at Abu Dhabi.
World-renowned for her MMA prowess and widely regarded as the top female MMA fighter in the world, Fujii holds a record of 21-0, which is practically unheard of. She also has accomplishments in Sambo and has been working hard on her boxing. The list goes on and on. But what’s amazing about Fujii is the way that she decimates her opponents, often in the first round. She effortlessly transitions from one submission attempt to another in the blink of an eye. She has great timing and positioning. We saw this in Bellator already in her fights against Carla Esparza and Sarah Schneider. Fujii is favored to win this tournament for a reason—I’d be very surprised if she doesn’t. Her next opponent for the finals is Lisa Ward, who she defeated back in 2007 by first round armbar.
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Lisa Ward has a very multi-faceted ground game. She wrestled in high school and is a 4-time no-gi world grappling champion. She trains with her husband, “Fast” Eddy Ellis, a professional MMA fighter himself. Her record is 14-5 and she delivered a decisive unanimous decision victory over Aisling Daly last night. Ward has faced some very tough opponents and really brings it to the cage. She’s got great conditioning, is relentless in her offense and is great at holding and advancing positions. All of her wins are by submission or decision. She’s been gunning for a rematch with Megumi Fujii since she lost to her in 2007. Ward’s only weakness appears to be submission defense; 4 of her 5 losses were by submission. Unfortunately, she’ll have to beat Fujii to advance—and submissions are Fujii’s specialty.
Aguilar began training in BJJ after she moved to Florida to pursue an acting career. She took 1st place in both gi and no gi at a NAGA tournament just one month after training. She stepped up to face Lisa Ward in her very first MMA match, which she took on just one week’s notice. Although she wasn’t successful, she did manage to take Ward to decision. Aguilar definitely sent a message to her opponents when she finished Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez by 1st round submission (arm triangle) in the first leg of the Bellator tournament. She’s a finisher, ending 8 of her 9 wins (with 6 submissions, 2 TKOs and just 1 decision).
Jag trains at American Top Team with BJJ World Champion Marcos Da Mattam boxing coach and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis, and Muay Thai instructor Master Cha, who coaches Thiago Alves and Mike Brown. This past March, Aguilar won gold medals in both the no-gi and gi divisions at 121 lbs. at the FILA Grappling World Championships in Poland. She was also a FILA World champion in no-gi grappling at the 2009 World Championships.
The secret about Zoila Frausto’s ground game is that she doesn’t really have one. Or if she does, it doesn’t show. To her credit, Frausto claims to have been training BJJ with her boyfriend, Jorge Gurgel, and word on the street is that he’s better at teaching the art than he is in utilizing it in the cage. Frausto will need all the help on her ground game that she can get. She was armbarred by wrestler Meisha Tate and, when fighting Michelle Ould, was losing the bout but lucked out when Ould tapped out due to ankle injury. Although Frausto claims to have been working on her ground game since the loss to Tate, it hasn’t at all shown in her fights. She elected to eke out a decision win over Jessica Pene in her last match, showing very little confidence in her ground game and instead relying on tying her opponent up in clinch, throwing Superman punches (which sometimes landed) and flashy kicks. Unfortunately, her kicks could use some work to—she actually hurt herself due to improper execution in her last bout. Frausto’s ground game (or lack thereof) has never withstood any kind of pressure and is no match to that of Aguilar, Ward or Fujii, and these ladies know what a takedown looks like. One advantage Frausto does have is a weight advantage–she cuts anywhere from 20-30 lbs., making it difficult for these smaller fighters who walk around close to fight weight to find their rhythm in the clinch even when they are technically proficient. Frausto’s weight cut may have something to do with her lackluster performance against Jessica Pene, though it could just as easily be that she has no confidence in her ground game and preferred to eke out a win by putting in the bare minimum. The fight is hard to call. Aguilar is obviously more technically proficient. If Frausto somehow manages to defeat her in the semi-finals, she won’t last very long in the finals.
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