Mann Talk cautiously returns to predict another Deep card. The last time I tried to tackle the subject, Deep 52 Impact, it was not pretty. It actually looked kind of like LuAnn from “Real Housewives of New York City.” I wanted to stay away from this card, but it is impossible to not celebrate the retirement of a Pride legend.
Last summer my main goal was to re-watch every Pride FC event in succession. I never made it all the way through, because I got bogged down in the Royce Gracie vs. Kazushi Sakuraba fight. Although Sakuraba is often seen as Japan’s first true MMA representative, it is hard to not notice the contributions of “Mr. Pride.” MMA is an amalgamation of fighting styles, and a similar combination is present in Akira Shoji. In an era with sumo wrestlers like Emanuel Yarborough and movie stuntmen like Nathan Jones, it was easy to focus on the theatrics. Sure, Shoji fought with an exciting style that pleased the crowd, but he also had a technical game that allowed him to survive with the likes of Renzo Gracie, Wallid Ismail and Guy Mezger.
Akira Shoji vs. Kazuo Misaki
Misaki is arguably the second-best Japanese fighter north of lightweight, behind only Yushin Okami. His fight against Jorge Santiago was the stuff of legends, and he is certainly going to pick up a win here. After he helps Shoji retire, the real question for Misaki will be, where does he go? We have seen signs of life from Dream, but SRC is still a big question mark. He has fought for Strikeforce before, but now with Zuffa’s involvement that seems unlikely.
Pick = Kazuo Misaki
Film Study: Kazuo Misaki vs. Joe Riggs
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Jutaro Nakao
Normally, when a name fighter takes on a grizzled veteran with over ten losses, it is a blow out. That may not be the case this time. Kitaoka showed both the positives and negatives of his game during his Sengoku run. Early in a fight, he can submit anyone. However, he has terrible cardio and very little defense on the feet. Nakao is getting up there in age and probably won’t survive the early onslaught from Kitaoka, but he has only been submitted once back in 1996.
Pick = Satoru Kitaoka
Film Study: Satoru Kitaoka vs. Paul Daley
Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Jung Gyeong Lee
Mitsuoka is returning for the first time since dropping a decision to Kazunori Yokota in 2009. He has a strong submission game and owns victories over Rodrigo Damm, Joachim Hansen and Gleison Tibau. He should be able to pick up a victory here, but it always hard to tell with Korean prospects. Lee has been billed as the next Dong Hyun Kim, but he has not fought any noteworthy competition.
Pick = Eiji Mitsuoka
Film Study: Eiji Mitsuoka vs. Joachim Hansen
Katsuaki Furuki vs. Yoshitaka Ebina
If I were to tell you about a former baseball player who lost to a comedian in his first fight, you would probably think I was talking about that goofball Jose Canseco. Sadly, he is sticking with baseball and doppelganging recently (Yes, I made that word up). Furuki made his MMA debut on New Year’s Eve after a three-year career in NPB. In his debut, he dropped a decision to Andy Ologun. Despite being a comedian/television personality, Ologun is a pretty solid striker. Furuki may not turn out to be much of a fighter, but I trust in Deep boss Shigeru Saeki to get him a win here.
Pick = Katsuaki Furuki
Film Study: Katsuaki Furuki training footage
Mamoru Nakamura vs. Seigo Mizuguchi
Kazuhisa Tazawa defeated Yuji Sakuragi to claim the vacant Deep Megaton title at Deep 52 Impact. This fight will decide the next challenger for the belt. It is an odd number-one contender bout since Mizuguchi has lost his last three, and Nakamura is 1-5. Then again, this is the Megaton division. I’m going with Mizuguchi, because Nakamura’s only win came against a guy who claims his first name is Muscle.
Pick = Seigo Mizuguchi
Film Study: Seigo Mizuguchi vs. Yusuke Kawaguchi