LONG BEACH, Calif. – It might not have been the performance Sumiko Inaba was hoping for, but perhaps it was one she needed.
Facing Nadine Mandiau for a second time, Inaba was pushed – and almost finished – but ultimately grinded out a unanimous decision win Saturday night at Bellator 286 from Long Beach Arena. After 15 minutes, the judges scored the fight 29-28 and 30-27 twice for Inaba, but those scores were deceiving given how close the fight truly was.
And that might’ve come as a surprise since Inaba (5-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) needed just 65 seconds to beat Mandiau (2-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) by TKO as amateurs back in October 2018.
It was clear early in the first round that the rematch could play out differently as both women found success landing combinations in the early going. It wasn’t until a hard right hand by Sumiko allowed her to take the fight to the mat without about 2 minutes left. Inaba tried for a finish, but Mandiau found her way back to the feet. Still, Inaba landed a front kick that knocked Mandiau back to the mat, but she defended with an armbar attempt to close out the round.
Round 2 is when Inaba was caught in the most trouble. After dominating most of the frame, she spent the final minute fending off a deep triangle choke attempt. Mandiau also had control of one wrist and delivered elbows. At one point, the referee appeared ready to step in but didn’t. Ultimately, Inaba found a way to squeeze her head out and escape just before the bell rang.
By the third round, Inaba had greater success landing combinations to start. Mandiau tried for a takedown that Inaba ultimately fought off and ended up taking her back. Inaba couldn’t capitalize completely on the position, but when they stood back up she kept finding success with her punches.
The victory marked the first decision of Inaba’s five-fight professional career. She’d won her previous four Bellator matchups with three knockouts and one submission.
Up-to-date Bellator 286 results include:
Khalid Murtazaliev def. Khadzhimurat Bestaev via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:02
Sumiko Inaba def. Nadine Mandiau via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 20-37)
Weber Almeida def. Ryan Lilley via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Lance Gibson Jr. def. Dominic Clark via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 1:49
Cee Jay Hamilton def. Richard Palencia via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 0:12
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 286.