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Megumi Fujii Cements Her 115-pound Dominance With Win Over Lisa Ward at Bellator 31

Megumi Fujii made it clear why she’s thought by the cognoscenti to be the best women’s fighter in the world – and that world includes Strikeforce Women’s 145-pound champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

Fujii delivered a series of pinpoint combinations in the first minute of her fight against Lisa Ward which allowed her to take top position on the stunned Ward after they clinched against the cage.

Spotting the opening, Fujii immediately passed to mount, catching Ward’s arm up against the cage and forcing Ward to tap. Just that quick, it was all over and Fujii had once again finished a fight against a tough opponent with a startling efficiency.

The signature-style win sent Fujii to 22-0 and made her the first fighter to ever reach 22 straight fights undefeated. It was her 18th career submission victory, eleven of them coming via armbar.

“Mega Megu” has been a godsend for Bellator and Women’s MMA in general. As Gina Carano did before her, Fujii has brought much-needed interest to the women’s game, and her smooth submission-heavy style should help prevent the standard “women should stay out of blood sports” argument from taking hold. Carano made waves based on her looks (though she was certainly a credible fighter), but Fujii’s quiet, humble demeanor and technical mastery will ultimately prove much more valuable in moving women’s MMA forward in the eyes of fans – casual fans in particular.

The Japanese fighter holds black belts in both Judo and Jiu-jitsu. Her initial training came from Shooto veteran Hiroyuki Abe with MMA polish added by PRIDE Fighting Championships, former UFC Heavyweight Champion and former King of Pancrase, Josh Barnett. Fujii has also earned kudos outside of mixed martial arts, and counts Japanese National Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships on her resume.

Fujii was also the  2004 and 2006 BJJ Pan-Am Champion.

There’s more to the diminutive fighter than meets the eye, and Fujii has led the charge for women to fight under full MMA rules. She has, on occasion, clashed with promoters over that hard-line stance. In July 2009, set to face Saori Ishioka at Jewels: Fourth Ring, Fujii’s insistence that the fight be contested under men’s MMA rules set her against DEEP promoter Shigeru Saeki, an opponent of ground-and-pound in women’s MMA. Fujii dispatched Ishioka at 4:17 of the second round via armbar, and thus avoided the question but proved herself willing to take on the Powers That Be when it comes to her career path.

Fujii will now face Zoila Frausto for the Bellator women’s tourney championship after Frausto notched a controversial decision against Jessica Aguilar to earn her spot in the final.