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PhotoCred: Twitter - @BrMassami (Bruno Massami)

Rena Kubota relishing in her return, ‘I have to finish the fight. That’s a requirement’

55 professional fights are more than enough to be satisfied with – especially when on the positive end for 46 of them.

Rena Kubota, 30, contemplated her place in MMA following her latest victory in September 2020. After constantly training throughout the year, the Osaka native focused on more weight training and spent some time at Brave under former Olympic wrestler, Kazuyuki Miyata.

Fast forward to the present day and Rena is feeling more than ready to keep the momentum of her three-fight winning streak rolling.

“At the time, after the [Emi] Tomimatsu fight, I definitely do remember saying I only have two or three fights left in me,” Rena told MyMMANews on BROADENED HORIZIN. “But right now, I put myself in a new environment, I’m enjoying what I do very much. So looking back, maybe two or three fights was a little overexaggerating and dramatic. I hope to keep this condition and motivation up and fight next year and fight the year after. If you ask me if I’m gonna fight another 20 fights, that’s probably a question.

“That comment itself of two or three more fights then retirement, that was to push me harder. That was meant for me to motivate myself and push me to the next step. So in a way, I guess it worked.”

With the vast majority of Rena’s combat sports career coming within the Shootboxing world (35-5-1 in SB, 11-3 in MMA), it’s been all about finding the next challenge to conquer. Once feeling she had done everything she could possibly do in her old venture, the “Shootbox Queen” transitioned into MMA in 2015.

Successfully debuting against Jleana Valentino at Part 2 of RIZIN’s 2015 World Grand-Prix, the supreme striker in Rena showed just how serious she was about MMA when performing a second-round armbar submission. The fight only acted as an appetizer for what was to come.

“If I didn’t win my MMA debut the way that I did, I don’t think I would have been able to continue this far,” she said. “So I think my MMA debut fight and how I finished it is definitely one of my proudest moments of my career.”

Rena
PhotoCred: Sherdog (Taro Irei)

Rena’s sophomore appearance in MMA came against the debuting standout wrestler in Miyuu Yamamoto. Once again, Rena showed off her overall game by forcing Yamamoto to submit via guillotine in round one. At RIZIN 32 on Nov. 20 in Okinawa, the two will do battle once again.

Admittedly, Rena says it doesn’t feel like a rematch considering the time since and how much each has improved.

“Right after the first fight, I kind of had a feeling that the rematch was going to happen at some point down the line,” she said. “As we’ve done our careers and looking at the current situation that both of us are in, it’s kind of made me more confident that it was going to happen very soon. So here we are.”

Although the fight will be taking place at 110-pounds, Yamamoto has established herself as a consensus top 5 atomweight in the world – giving this fight a little extra juice regarding its outcome and if Rena can come out on top for a second time.

If the Abe Ani Combat Club product in Rena wasn’t motivated enough, she receives a boost from being the featured attraction.

“When headlining the event, you have to finish off the night,” she said of her main event spot. “In that sense, I do feel some obligation to be able to finish the fight and finish the night in a great way. But mostly I just try to enjoy myself, I try to enjoy the opportunity of being in that position and that’s how I head into the fight. At minimum, I have to finish the fight. That’s a requirement.”

In the time that Rena has been away from the ring for the past year, RIZIN has introduced women’s kickboxing into the fold. Instantly upon arrival, fans began pondering if one of the best strikers in the sport would revisit some of these rather familiar types of contests.

Rena
PhotoCred: Sherdog / RIZIN FF (Sachiko Hotaka)

Ultimately, that part of Rena’s legacy is behind her and it’s about continuing to be her best overall self and solidifying an unforgettable status.

“As for a concept for RIZIN, I think it’s good that they’re taking on new challenges,” she said. “It definitely opens up more opportunities for the women’s kickboxers. But for me, ever since I started in 2015, RIZIN equals MMA. RIZIN is MMA for me. I have my own fights to fight and I have my own challenges in MMA. So at the moment, I’m not really too interested in the kickboxing scene.

“I do feel I’ve done everything throughout my career – the first half of my career – Shootboxing and I pretty much accomplished everything I could. So I don’t really feel I have to go back.

“I would like to be a fighter who is constantly brought up when people talk about women’s fights,” Rena added. “I would like to make accomplishments to a point where people will call me a legend.”

BROADENED HORIZIN Ep. 11 ENGLISH AUDIO BELOW:

以下の日本語版 (JAPANESE VERSION BELOW):

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