Spending nearly a year honing skills in Guam, Miyuu Yamamoto and Kyle Augon feel ready to take on big opponents at RIZIN 26 together.
After a year of training together in Guam, Miyuu Yamamoto and Kyle Aguon head into RIZIN 26 both facing the biggest fights of their MMA careers. For Yamamoto, a chance to become the third RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion. For Aguon, an opportunity to redeem himself after losing his RIZIN debut.
Their two big fights come after a challenging year to train and many months, or in Yamamoto’s case, a year outside of competition.
With COVID-19 hitting the world and putting RIZIN on a short hiatus in 2020, the duo found themselves with less resources than usual but more time to tighten their game. In the early stages of lockdown, Aguon claims training solely consisted of them, Miyuu’s son, Erson, and a mat outside their house.
“It was the best time to slow down our training and focus more so on technique. Fixing up our boxing, little details with Jiu-Jitsu or even wrestling,” said Aguon in an interview with Knockdown News. He noted that they have since been able to put together a small group to train with as lockdown rules in Guam relaxed.
The improvements in training that Yamamoto made in 2020 will be tested against Ayaka Hamasaki when competing for the promotion’s vacant 108-pound belt. The fight comes after the departure of Seo Hee Ham, the pound-for-pound top atomweight in the world, who vacated the belt earlier in the year.
Hamasaki has an impressive record of 20 wins and three losses and is one of the best atomweights in the world. The former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion has put together a RIZIN record of six wins and one loss since joining the roster in 2018.
A win for Yamamoto in December would not only make her a champion, but also throw her into the conversation of top atomweights in the world. While she could earn a belt for the first time in her MMA career, the caliber of talent she gets to fight is what interests her the most about the fight.
“It’s not about the belt … I can fight one of the top [fighters],” said Yamamoto.
Yamamoto last competed in RIZIN’s annual New Year’s Eve event in 2019, putting together a strong performance to defeat AMP The Rocket via unanimous decision.
Aguon has the chance to right some wrongs on New Year’s Eve. The former Pancrase fighter lost his RIZIN debut in February, losing on scorecards to Vugar Kyaramov.
“Right now I’m on a two-fight losing streak. It hurts the soul a little bit,” said Aguon, who plans to spoil the RIZIN debut of former KSW Champion Kleiber Koike. “Moving into this fight I just want to display what I know I can do as a mixed martial artist.”
While admitting Koike is his toughest test to date, Aguon said he likes the matchup, claiming “stylistically I think I can cause him some problems.”
Aguon and Yamamoto, who became husband and wife earlier in the year, will be competing on the same card for the first time. While the situation of both fighting on the same night presents unique challenges, it’s a rite of passage that they’re both looking forward to.
“It’s a blessing to be on the same card as my wife. Just to share the whole journey, the whole experience from training to cutting weight to actually fighting in the ring,” said Aguon, who will be cornering Yamamoto for her title fight following his bout.
Admitting she will be “a little nervous” about Aguon’s fight, Yamamoto said she trusts he will win. Yamamoto is no stranger to competing alongside family, as she has competed on the same card as her son Erson Yamamoto in five instances.
Despite travelling to Japan to fight at RIZIN 26 is a business trip, Yamamoto feels they’ve been given “another honeymoon.”