MoMo may sound like a pretty cute name for a 12-year-old, but this Japanese pre-teen is arguably the most controversial fighter in MMA today – and she’s yet to even fight a professional bout.
The latest star to emerge from the Hakuhinkai Karate team, which previously produced notable MMA talents like Naoki Inoue and Yukari Yamaguchi, MoMo may only be 12 but she’s about to star in her very own professional fight. Against someone twice her age.
24-year-old Momoko Yamasaki is no pushover either. Though she comes into their scheduled bout at Deep Jewels 16 in Japan on 20 May off the back of two straight defeats, she’ll be out to prove a point.
It’s something Yamasaki has done throughout her career to date. A former street fighter who immersed herself in the world of MMA after suffering at the hands of bullies in high school, she’ll be putting all her experience and practice to use against the youngster.
MoMo remains something of an unknown quantity though with only a couple of videos, posted online, offering any indication of the 5ft 4in fighter’s potential.
The bout has nevertheless attractive plenty of attention, both good and bad, with many concerned that the fight will amount to nothing more than a freakish spectacle and one that could do serious damage to a youngster whose brain is still developing.
It’s worth remembering the amateur rules that govern Deep Jewels competitions in Japan though. Under the guidelines in place, strikes to the head on the ground are completely illegal, while both fighters are required to wear head gear at all times.
There remains a sneaky suspicion that fans could be about to witness something special though.
Why else would Hakuhinkai, a karate team known for nurturing talent, put forward a 12-year-old for a bout against someone twice her age.
The world will be watching on to see if MMA’s next big star has just been discovered.