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Translator Mizuka Koike Talks UFC 144, Fluffy Afro Pen

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Who says you need a pair of gloves to impress inside the Octagon?

A fluffy rainbow pen works too.

But that wasn’t the only reason translator Mizuka Koike was an inescapable presence at last Saturday’s UFC 144 in Japan. Her cheery demeanor and solid translating skills caught the attention of the MMA media and fans.

Koike, who has since gained well over 2,000 followers, revealed Monday on The MMA Hour she was a last-minute addition to the UFC 144 show.

"In the very beginning they wanted a male translator to be in the Octagon with Joe Rogan," Koike told host Ariel Helwani.

Only after helping Rogan during the weigh-ins was she offered the position as the in-cage translator by the UFC’s Japanese partner Dentsu.

Born in Tokyo, Koike spent four years growing up in Hawaii, where she learned how to speak English and a little Hawaiian. As a day job, she’s a translator for ASN, a leading sports channel in Asia that carries all the major U.S. sports. Koike said she previously worked for DREAM and K-1 MAX, but never in front of a camera inside the ring.

At UFC 144, Koike diligently took notes with her rainbow afro pen during the post-fight interviews. In an aggressive testosterone-filled sport like MMA, something as unusual as a wacky pen stands out. But that wasn't the reason why she used her rainbow afro pen.

"This rainbow afro is not my primary pen. I have a frog with me all the time," Koike said. "Going into the Octagon I preferred this one. A frog looks silly. I don’t have a normal pen and the afro one was the only one I had."

For a translator, Koike has drawn an unusually high amount of attention from the MMA Internet community.

"I should have asked some people for a normal pen," she said, jokingly.

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