Following a standout amateur career, strawweight Sumiko Inaba was set to make her pro debut earlier this year when the novel coronavirus put those plans on hold.
Inaba was able to maintain patience during the lockdown and efforts to get her bout rescheduled, and now on the precipice of making her delayed pro debut she’s feeling ready to go.
“I was supposed to make my pro debut in May, but when everything with the Covid stuff hit it got pushed back to now,” Inaba told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m glad it finally set out. I wasn’t sure I wasn’t going to fight in 2020, but it’s here and I’m glad it’s happening.”
Since her last amateur bout in 2019, Inaba has seen a lot of change in her game. Namely she feels like she’ll be a bit more well-rounded and deliberate in her pacing than she was before.
“I think there’s been a lot of major change,” said Inaba. “Definitively coming up to the pros I want to come out a calmer fighter and not just charge out; it’s going to be five minute rounds instead of three minute rounds.
“Especially with Covid being able to train a lot more I think my game has completely made me into an MMA fighter instead of just a stand-up fighter.”
This Thursday in Uncasville, Connecticut, Inaba (0-0) will make her pro debut versus Jessica Ruiz (0-1) in a 115-pound preliminary bout at Bellator 251.
“I think this fight will end up on the ground or it might end up to me just standing and finding my shots, but I think as a whole I’ve become an MMA fighter and I’m excited to show that,” Inaba said. “I feel a little bit of pressure just because it is my pro debut, but it’s excitement to finally be here on such a great promotion.
“The fight footage I’ve seen on (Ruiz) she comes up more a stand-up boxer, which I’m down with that. I think that she’s a southpaw, and I’m orthodox but I like to switch, so I think it will be fun to fight a southpaw.”
While she’s finally able to make her pro debut and begin the next stage of her career, Inaba is focused on Thursday night and not too far down the road ahead of her.
“I’m not looking past this fight for sure, but if I come out of this fight with no injuries, I’d love to get one more in before then,” said Inaba. “If everything goes well with this fight I’d like to have a quick turnaround.”