Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen Make U.S. Women’s 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team

Press Conference:  2018 U.S. Women’s Olympic Skating Team Selection

I had the real honor and pleasure to witness history live in San Jose, California (15 miles from where I live, 5 miles from where I currently work) to see two Asian American women, Japanese American skater Mirai Nagasu and Taiwanese American Skater Karen Chen skate at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where they respectively came in 2nd & 3rd:

“Mirai Nagasu (Pasadena FSC), the 2008 U.S. champion, earned a silver medal with 213.84 points, ahead of Karen Chen (Peninsula FSC), the 2017 U.S. champion, who secured the bronze medal with a score of 198.59 points. Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner (SC of Wilmington) finished fourth with 196.19.”

You can watch the press conference of that that here.

So the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Figure Skating team will consist of:

Bradie Tennell is the 2018 U.S. champion. She won the U.S. junior title in 2015 and the bronze medal at Bridgestone Skate America earlier this season. Her short program score of 73.79 at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships marked a new U.S. record.

Mirai Nagasu is the 2018 U.S. silver medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2008 and placed fourth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the second American woman in history to land a triple Axel in international competition.

Karen Chen is the 2018 U.S. bronze medalist. She won the U.S. ladies title in 2017, and is the 2015 U.S. bronze medalist. Her fourth-place performance at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships secured three ladies spots for the United States at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

Alternates for the 2018 Olympic Team have been named as Ashley Wagner (first alternate), Mariah Bell(second alternate), and Angela Wang (third alternate).

After the press conference, Tennell, Nagasu & Chen sat down for press interviews for about 30 minutes. Here are about, in total, 5 minutes of video clips:

Note: I focused on Chen since I wanted to ask, but didn’t get a chance, to see – if she knew – if she was possibly the first Taiwanese American to represent the United States for women’s individual figure skating.

America’s Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson Defeated Japan’s Yasuko Tamada

Michelle Waterson (black trunks) vs. Yasuko Tamada
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The last fight Michelle Waterson had was at Invicta FC 5 in April of 2013, when she won the Atomweight Championship belt from Jessica Penne. Nearly a year and a half later, she was finally able to defend her belt against Yasuko Tamada from Japan.

What was vividly clear to everyone right away at the weigh-ins and the moment Waterson stepped into the cage was that within the time she had been out of that cage, she had forged herself into a sword. Gone was the scrappy yet determined challenger who had pulled the belt right out from under her opponent with a surprising turnaround and totally unexpected submission win.

As she took on Tamada’s challenge, Waterson did what fans of combat sports refer to as “fighting like a champ”. She stood tall and proud, like a noble knight, and carefully picked apart her opponent with surgical strikes. She took no unnecessary risks and kept the whole fight standing, to her advantage. Each knee to the head and body, fist to the face, round house kick to the temple or ribs, and, yes, even a spinning back kick to ice off that flawless victory cake, was done with such poise and precision, it was quite a performance to watch. And yet, it was also hard to watch, because clearly Tamada was simply overwhelmed by Waterson’s presence and power. You can see at one point in the highlight video below that Tamada tried to hold Waterson against the cage, but the American fighter simple pushed Tamada around as if she were a feather caught up in a storm.

At the end, when the referee just had to stop the fight, Tamada’s coach, the legendary Japanese female MMA fighter Mega Megumi, looked really pained as she hugged a badly bruised up Tamada. Gotta hand it to Tamada for having a serious iron chin. Waterson went at her like a train bearing down on a hapless deer, and Tamada just kept on coming back and stayed standing even up until the last second. It was clear that if the ref hadn’t called it, Tamada would have gone the distance, Rocky style.

Miriam Nakamoto vs. Lauren Murphy, the Fight Continues

Miriam Nakamoto and Lauren Murphy
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When I covered the Invicta FC inaugural bantamweight championship, it was definitely an unsatisfying result. At the time, though, Murphy was a gracious champion offering Nakamoto a rematch, and Nakamoto even defended Murphy as champion, saying Murphy was the legitimate winner. It seemed like good sportsmanship all around. But then this interview of Murphy came out, and it sounded like Murphy was saying Nakamoto basically chickened out and quit the fight prematurely.

“Some people have said I don’t deserve that belt and that she should have won. I think that’s just silly, for a lot of reasons. Miriam asked for that fight to be stopped, not me. She fell and did not pull guard or try to fight off her back. She did not look for sweeps or armbars or anything…I was willing to fight Miriam on one leg. I would have crawled out to the 4th and 5th rounds if I had to, that’s how badly I wanted win. Some fighters would rather quit than take an ass beating. Me, I’d rather take an ass beating than ever quit. That’s why I am the champion.”

Needless to say, this has started quite a firestorm of online arguments between the camps and fans of the two fighters.

Personally, I do find Murphy’s words quite offensive and the complete opposite of sportsmanship. Granted, I am a Nakamoto fan, but I feel the video footage of the fight speaks for itself. Nakamoto was winning, and the fight only turned tides with the injury, and it was the referee who waved the fight and stopped it. The win was Murphy’s–injuries do happen–but to say that Nakamoto chickened out? That she quit? Wow, that’s just wrong. I wasn’t a huge fan of Murphy’s, but I actually think she is a great fighter and a nice person, so I wonder if all the questioning of her championship status and the yes-men who have been telling her she deserves the win to counter those who say she doesn’t have just gotten to her.

You can watch the edited version below and judge for yourself, but for those of you who are more scrupulous fans of MMA, the whole bout is also available on Invicta FC’s Youtube channel at time mark 2:53:00.