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Junna Tsukii: From Karate Champion to MMA Contender

Promotional poster for Junna Tsukii's MMA fight against Ruka Sakamoto. (Deep Jewels)

World Games karate champion Junna Tsukii is set to make a sensational debut in mixed martial arts (MMA) at the 2024 Deep Jewels Summer Festival in Odaiba, Japan, on August 31. Tsukii, who has recently retired from karate, will face fellow debutant Ruka Sakamoto in the women’s -54kg category. The event, featuring both local and international talents, will see the bout span two rounds of five minutes each.

The announcement was made on June 13, just a day after Tsukii revealed her retirement from karate in a heartfelt social media post, expressing her desire to explore new sports such as MMA. This marks a new chapter for the 32-year-old athlete, who has already begun her training for the upcoming fight, sharing glimpses of her preparation on social media.

Tsukii’s illustrious karate career spans 26 years, beginning at the age of seven and culminating with her becoming the only Filipina to win a gold medal at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, USA. Her accolades also include six medals from the Southeast Asian Games, a silver and a bronze from the 2021 Asian Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, respectively.

A graduate of Takushoku University, Tsukii has been a prominent figure in karate, representing the Philippine national team since she was 17. Despite facing setbacks such as injuries and controversial judgments, her perseverance and dedication to the sport have been unwavering. Tsukii’s decision to transition to MMA is seen as a bold move, aiming to leverage her extensive martial arts experience in a new arena where she hopes to achieve even greater success.

The promotional poster for Tsukii’s fight against Sakamoto has already generated significant buzz, highlighting the anticipation for this highly-anticipated debut. Fans and supporters are eager to see how Tsukii’s karate skills translate to the full-contact world of MMA, and whether she can replicate her success in this new and challenging sport.

For more information on Junna Tsukii’s career and upcoming fight, you can visit her profile on Karate News here

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