There are benefits to watching Invicta FC which might be unique. Not only are you seeing the best, you’re getting to watch new talent develop, as the sport of women’s MMA continues to develop. Sometimes it feels like the old days. Sometimes it feels like something brand new.
This was never more evident than in the third fight of the evening’s PPV broadcast, as a youthful Mizuki Inoue entered the cage against respected veteran “Rowdy” Bec Hyatt.
You want to talk about developing talent? Here’s an 18-year old fighter, traveling outside her home country for the first time. Sure she had a relatively strong 5-1 record but against whom? Her only opponent which I’d heard of was Ayaka Hamasaki, who unfortunately represented her only loss.
In fact, Inoue lamented in her pre-fight interviews that she ended up fighting many opponents with no experience, and expressed her excitement to compete with North America’s best. In Japan, she described being told repeatedly that she had no opponent available, so several of her opponents were flown in from Korea; opponents with 0-0 records. Granted, they left Japan with 0-1 records and Inoue ended up with another clip to add to her highlight reel. (If you haven’t seen her Mizuki 魅津希 Inoue Highlight video, please do. It spans her career in not only Japanese MMA but Shoot Boxing as well — which allows kickboxing, throws, and standing submissions.)
But the Invicta cage on Saturday in Kansas City represented a whole new world.
Her opponent, the 24 year old Australian “Rowdy” Bec Hyatt, is well-known and respected for her Invicta FC experience. After taking the promotion’s champion Carla Esparza to the limit in January, Hyatt made quick work of previously undefeated Austrian Jasminka Cive back in April.
The noticeably larger Hyatt, with her flashy pink attire and dyed-blue hair, kept a high work rate against Inoue, who looked more “workmanlike” in her camouflage trunks. But Inoue was ready, and able to counter. Hyatt’s frequent combinations were ineffective to Inoue’s excellent defense, and the Aussie was stung by Inoue’s jab. Hyatt was also hit by some memorably hard round kicks from the clinch, a Muay Thai technique almost never seen in MMA.
Inoue scored several takedowns in mid-fight, hitting some solid elbows and knees — and also coming close to an armbar finish.
Hyatt fought to the bitter end, possibly out-landing Inoue by a small margin in a spirited run during the third round. What would you expect from a gal who named her daughter after MMA legend Enson Inoue? (Mizuki and Enson are of no relation, incidentally.)
But as the final bell sounded, it was Inoue’s night in this observer’s eyes. The judges concurred.
On commentary, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal remarked that Inoue showed some of the best boxing he’s seen in MMA. I’m not sure I’d go quite that far but it’s really good. Inoue uses her quick footwork to control range and slips punches well on defense, and she has clean technique on offense. Her highlight reel showed her particularly adept at ending combinations with a left hook to the body. Here, she showed a bit of everything.
On Saturday, on her first trip abroad, Mizuki Inoue proved she can take on the world.
Maybe one day she will stand on top of it.