by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At this Saturday’s BodogFight PPV in St. Petersburg, Russia, there will be lots of great, competitive bouts, but perhaps none more so than the women’s 135lb showdown between Hitomi Akano and Amanda Buckner.

Both fighters are coming off of impressive performances from the BodogFight St. Petersburg reality series on ION, and with all things considered such as PPV exposure, possibly entering the biggest fight of their career on a major stage.

For Amanda Buckner in particular, this is a chance to further sure up her position as one of the best veteran fighters overall in women’s MMA and it’s an opportunity she’s taken more rigorously than ever before.

“For this fight, it was the longest I ever had to train for a fight,” commented Buckner on her preparations to face Hitomi Akano. “I think I had a total of like nine weeks for this specific fight.”

“I feel very, very excited that my training is over. I’ve been training for a long time for this fight and I’m more than ready for the actual fight to get here, and that the training part is done,” added Amanda with a chuckle.

Buckner knows that all that preparation time has to pay off, as she’s facing a very dangerous opponent in Akano.

“She’s real tough,” said Amanda. “She’s got real slick submissions; she’s very good on the ground and has really, really great Judo.”

Buckner continued, “Her stand-up isn’t necessarily great as technical boxing goes. I’d say it’s her weak point, but the thing is, she has such an awkward style standing up that it makes it difficult. And she’s a southpaw, which is also a little added change.”

With the time she’s spent preparing for the fight, Buckner has been able to prepare for unique challenges Hitomi presents.

“I’ve obviously taken those things into account in training,” explained Amanda. “For the last nine weeks I’ve happened to have a coach, [husband] Jay Jack, who’s extremely good in Judo and has had a black belt in it.”

“I think that’s the biggest thing, is get used to used to that and get solid with defense of things that she’s real good at and go from there,” further stated Buckner.

After having such a long time off, Amanda will have no rest in the coming weeks, as she’s planned to compete in the Abu Dhabi World Championships in early May, and then fallow that up a few weeks later with a defense of her Smack Girl title in Japan against Yoko Takahashi.

Even with such important things on the horizon however, Buckner has stayed focused on the task at hand.

“I’m not thinking about any of the stuff that comes after this,” exclaimed Amanda. “They’re all equally as big, but this is how I need to operate, I need to focus on one thing at a time.”

Buckner added, “This is probably, with the exposure and on top of that a really good opponent, I can definitely say this is one of my biggest fights. So I’ve definitely just been focusing on that.”

One of the reasons why this is one of the biggest fights of Amanda’s career is the fact that it’s the first time she’ll be fighting live on a major MMA PPV.

“This is what I’ve been wanting,” commented Buckner. “This is what I have been pushing for. This is exactly the spot I’ve wanted to be in.”

BodogFight’s continued support of women’s MMA since its inception has helped lead to the rise in popularity for female fighting, and according to Amanda, it’s another in the continuing steps in the right direction.

“I think it’s definitely going in that direction,” said Buckner. “Because the more popular women’s fighting gets, the promoters will feel that it’s really something they want and need on their cards.”

“If more shows like this are going to happen, where it’s putting women more in the spotlight, then a lot of people are going to get to see them that didn’t get to see them otherwise,” continued Amanda.

More exposure and more popularity means more match-ups for the top women in the sport.

“Bodog has been a good experience for me because they want to make good match-ups,” explained Buckner. “They’re interested and concerned in the type of matches they have, they want to have high level women fighting each other, and that’s something right there that you don’t necessarily see in other promotions.”

Buckner further stated, “And that’s the most important thing happening for women. That’s what people need to see, is upper level women fighting each other.”

When it comes to whom Amanda would like to face off against in the future, there’s no one she’ll back down from and there’s always a desire to atone for previous disappointments.

“As far as people I want to fight, I’ve always pretty much been willing to fight anybody,” exclaimed Buckner. “But I also want to fight the toughest people out there.”

“I definitely want to rematch Tara [LaRosa], and I think that she’s always up for that. I definitely want to rematch Laura D’Auguste. I’d love to fight Megumi Fuji, but I don’t know if that one can ever happen because of the weight thing,” added Amanda.

So things appear wide open for Buckner, with lots of possibilities should she perform well this Saturday against Hitomi Akano. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be able to miss Amanda, thanks to her penchant for interesting hair styles.

“I didn’t go quite as crazy this time with it,” exclaimed Buckner with a laugh. “I tried something different and kept it all one color, but it’s kind of an interesting shade of red, so we’ll see how that goes over. If you see a bright red blur, that’s me.”

Amanda closed out her comments by again reminding people to check out April 14th’s BodogFight PPV from Russia, and by giving a shout-out to those who have helped her along the way.

“Definitely check out the PPV,” said Buckner. “I think the whole card is going to be great, and I know my fight is going to be exciting.”

“I definitely want to say a big thank you to Hell on Earth, Sprall, and Freeport Chiropractic. Our gym website, which everyone should definitely check out, is AMMAOnline.com, there’s a link to a blog that we put up that has information on our workouts, fights and all that sorts of thing,” concluded Amanda.