Great Fights is a series aimed at newer MMA fans who are looking for recommendations on the sport's finest bouts.
In 2010, Megumi Fujii and Zoila Frausto competed for the inaugural women's Strawweight belt under the Bellator banner.
Fujii is still widely considered one of the very best female fighters in the history of the sport but, at the time, it was impossible to even argue that she wasn't #1. With a record of 22-0 and almost every fight ending in a submission, she was unbeatable both in Japan and in the West.
Frausto, on the other hand, had only been fighting professionally for a year. She was 9-1 heading into the fight with her sole loss coming at the hands of Miesha Tate some months prior. Frausto made her name by knocking out Rosi Sexton as a sizable underdog with a vicious knee.
In order to reach this fight, both Fujii and Frausto had to go through Bellator's tournament process. Frausto took hard-fought decision wins against a then-undefeated Jesicca Penne and Jessica Aguilar in the semi-finals. Fujii, on the other hand, scored armbar finishes over a young Carla Esparza and Lisa Ellis.
And so the stage at Bellator 34 was set.
Frausto entered the fight as a heavy underdog, understandably. Fujii was an unbeatable and crazily talented fighter up until that point. Her takedowns and submissions, courtesy of a superb Judo game, were second to none.
By the time the third round had ended, it was clear that this was not going to be an easy end to the fight for Fujii. Despite controlling a large majority of the opening three rounds, she had been rocked a few times and struggled to take the fight to the ground. In fact, Fujii didn't score her first takedown until the final 30 seconds of the fight. Frausto kept a low base the entire fight and her size advantage certainly dissuaded the Japanese legend from shooting for takedowns frequently.
It felt like Frausto could end the fight at any second with a head kick or flurry while Fujii was quite content to keep landing her straight left all night long; by the end of the fight, Frausto looked like she'd just been in a brawl with a beehive. Fujii had her on the back foot throughout thanks to expert cage-cutting.
Neither fighter had ever gone past the 15-minute mark in their fights up until that night. They would end up competing for the entire 25 minutes.
This wasn't one of those barn-burner title fights but it's essential viewing and a great fight on multiple levels: the underdog matching the undefeated phenom, a controversial decision in the end, two different stylistic approaches and a big moment in WMMA history.
Was the controversial decision correct or not? This writer had Fujii winning 49-46 as Frausto's explosive bursts were few and far between and the damage dealt wasn't consistent enough relative to Fujii's output and control.
You can watch the fight on YouTube, split into three parts:
Zoila Frausto x Megumi Fujii (promo & R1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeu06R-Ku6k
Zoila Frausto x Megumi Fujii (R2 & R3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9bB6RDsQj4
Zoila Frausto x Megumi Fujii (R4, R5 & Decision): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zx29XCXUKU