On Saturday night, Dec. 28, 2019, Bellator MMA makes its organizational debut in Japan for Bellator 237. The event takes place at the world famous Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan and will be headlined by a heavyweight battle between legends of the sport, as Fedor Emelianenko takes on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Bellator 237 takes place in collaboration with RIZIN FF.
On the main card, Ilara Joanne and Kana Watanabe square off in a women’s flyweight bout. Joanne, representing Bellator MMA, looks to make it four consecutive victories against the unbeaten Watanabe. In her most recent appearance — and Bellator debut — the 25-year-old Joanne submitted UFC veteran Bec Rawlings in the second round at October’s Bellator 231 event. If victorious, “Arya Stark” will certainly insert herself into the 125-pound title picture.
Watanabe is one of the top women’s flyweight prospects in Japan and will look to make a big statement to cap off an impressive 2019 campaign. The 31-year-old Judoka is 3-0 on the year, which includes first round finishes of Soo Min Kang and Hee Eun Kang for the DEEP JEWELS promotion, along with a unanimous decision win over Justyna Haba at RIZIN 15.
Here is how the women’s flyweight bout between Ilara Joanne and Kana Watanabe went down at Bellator 237, including round-by-round scoring. For full results of the event, check them out right here.
One of the more fascinating, and under the radar fights on the card is underway. Joanne lands a leg kick and Watanabe returns with a beautiful counter left hand. Both women trade punches and separate. Joanne answers a right hand from Watanabe with a right of her own. Joanne lands a clean combination, and lands another hard right hand that stuns Watanabe. Joanne lands another combination. Watanabe ties Joanne up and takes the fight to the mat utilizing her strong Judo game. Joanne trying to set up a triangle choke and it is tight. Watanabe trying to improve her position and stack Joanne as the hold is broken. Watanabe in a north-south position as Joanne’s feet are against the cage. Under 90 seconds to go in this opening round and Watanabe gets to side control. Watanabe opening up with a flurry of left hands and traps Joanne’s arm. More left hands from Watanabe and Joanne is looking for a kimura grip, which is unsuccessful. Watanabe looking for a head and arm choke in the final 15 seconds. Watanabe shifts to the back as the round comes to an end.
MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Joanne
Second round begins as Watanabe has the momentum. They clinch up in the middle and both women are trading punches. Joanne pushes Watanabe against the fence as the clinch battle commences. Watanabe with a Judo throw attempt but Joanne ends up on top, landing some ground and pound. Watanabe trying to improve her position but Joanne has her arms around the waist of her opponent. Watanabe landing short punches over and over as Joanne is content hanging on and retaining top position. The referee keeping a close eye on the action as not much has changed. Under 90 seconds to go and Watanabe is still not able to get back to her feet. Watanabe gets to her knees and ends up on top and is landing a barrage of right hands. Watanabe switches to left hands and is reigning down punches with under 10 seconds to go. Watanabe remains on top a the round ends. Even though Joanne maintained top position for most of the round, MyMMANews.com is leaning the other way.
MyMMANews.com scores it 10-9 for Watanabe
Final round kicks off in Japan as the ladies touch gloves. Watanabe eats a punch but ties Joanne up quickly and gets it right to the mat. Joanne trying to stay active with elbows off of her back and looks to be working for a triangle attempt as well. Joanne switching to an armbar attempt but Watanabe is able to break the grip. Watanabe gets to half guard and lands a right hand. Watanabe trying to mount, landing short right hands in the process. Watanabe with some hammer fists as we approach the final 90 seconds. Watanabe remains on top and is able to take Joanne’s back, landing a barrage of punches. Hammer fists continue to land and the referee has seen enough. Impressive stuff from Watanabe.
Kana Watanabe gets the W ✅🇯🇵#Bellator237 results: Kana Watanabe def. Ilara Joanne via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:39.
— ON: MMA (@OnMMA) December 29, 2019
Official result: Kana Watanabe def. Ilara Joanne via TKO – Round 3, 4:39
Mike Heck is the a freelance MMA journalist covering the sport for a number of websites. Specializing in video interviews, Mike interviews everybody from prospects, to title contenders, to world champions, along with other influential personalities in the sport of MMA. Subscribe to his channel at https://youtube.com/mikeheckmma.