If you read the headlines, then you know that MMA in Japan is dead. The large promotions have been having money problems due to the paltry number of big stars. However, the sport is still alive. The U.S. soccer team embarrassed themselves yet again at the last World Cup, is soccer now dead in this country?
Deep 52 Impact takes place on Feb. 25 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. It features a decorated veteran bantamweight, a top-ten women’s featherweight and a scramble for the Megaton title.
Masakazu Imanari vs. Hiroshi Nakamura
Despite his seemingly invincible submission game, the recipe to defeat Imanari is really quite simple. You need to be able to get clean takedowns to avoid scrambles and submissions. With that being said, I don’t think Nakamura has that kind of game. Look for Imanari to control where the fight takes place and score a decision victory. Let’s hope FEG can get their act together, so we can see Imanari back in a big show since he has shown very little interest in fighting stateside.
Pick = Masakazu Imanari
Film Study: Mazakazu Imanari vs. Jorge Gurgel
Yoshiyuki Nakanishi vs. Ryuta Sakurai
Last year, Nakanishi surprisingly won the Deep light heavyweight tournament. Pretty much everyone assumed that Christian M’Pumbu would walk through the field, but Nakanishi defeated him in the semi-finals. Now, he is making a smart move by dropping down to middleweight. The book on Sakurai is that he is basically done as a fighter. However, he did score a surprising draw with Mamed Khalidov last May. Nakanishi will be able to get takedowns and stay on top. That should be more than enough to carry the favor of the judges.
Pick = Yoshiyuki Nakanishi
Film Study: Ryuta Sakurai vs. Mamed Khalidov
Saori Ishioka vs. Seo Hee Ham
These two have already fought and Ham took a pretty commanding decision. Both fighters like to strike on the feet. Ishioka comes from a karate background, while Ham is pretty much straight kickboxing. Ham gets into trouble when she fights women who can beat her on the ground. Ishioka is not that kind of fighter.
Pick = Seo Hee Ham
Film Study: Saori Ishioka vs. Seo Hee Ham I
Yuji Sakuragi vs. Kazuhisa Tazawa
Apparently, Mann Talk favorite Yusuke Kawaguchi has been forced to give up his Megaton title due to injury. This really is a shame. No one in MMA flails on fat dudes like Kawaguchi. Hopefully the Blue Dog product can return to form while these two fight for the belt.
Tazawa certainly has the Megaton pedigree. He represents Thug Life Kawa and scored a scarf hold submission without wearing a Gi. However, this fight is Sakuragi’s to lose. As with most Megaton matches, the smart money is on the smaller fighter. Expect Sakuragi, who could probably fight at middleweight, to land at will on the feet and take the fight.
Pick = Yuji Sakuragi
Film Study: Kazuhisa Tazawa vs. Tim Persey (Scarf Hold Madness)
Shoji Maruyama vs. Tomoya Kato
It would be fair to call Kato a character. He got his start in Akira Maeda‘s wacky new show The Outsider. He works for a security guard company called Bonds and actually lost back-to-back fights by disqualification due to groin strikes last year. Both of those DQ losses came against his best opposition, so it is hard to gauge his skill.
Kato likes to come forward and throw with power. He seems to struggles on the ground. I was all set to take Shoji, a former King of Pancrase, but then I rewatched his fight with DJ.taiki and saw him struggle to get takedowns. It looks like this one will be a victory for The Outsider.
Pick = Tomoya Kato
Film Study: Tomoya Kato vs. Isamu Sugiuchi