Japan is known for its circus fights in mixed martial arts, but it's being taken to a potentially dangerous new level.
According to WMMA Rankings, 12-year-old MoMo will make her MMA debut against 24-year-old Momoko Yamazaki at Deep Jewels 16 on May 20. The fight will be contested at minimumweight (95 pounds). Yamazaki holds a 2-3 amateur record.
This bout marks the most high-profile debut of a fighter under 18 since super prospect Mizuki Inoue began her professional MMA career at 16 in 2010. Inoue was already a kickboxer prior to her transition to MMA.
Japan is known for debuting young talent. Rena Kubota made her kickboxing debut in Japan at age 16 in 2007. She did not make the jump to MMA until 2015.
Per the report, the bout will be contested under amateur rules. There will be no strikes to a grounded opponent, and both fighters will wear headgear. Still, a 12-year-old fighting in MMA is deeply troubling.
Professional fighter and instructor Roxanne Modafferi tweeted her disgust with the decision:
Whether MoMo follows in Inoue's footsteps is yet to be seen. It's questionable if a 12-year-old should compete in the sport at all, but it's inexcusable that a 12-year-old will be competing against a fighter twice her age.