DEEP will return to the Korakuen Hall on February 6th for 61st Impact. Confirmed for the show are two title fights, Young ‘RYO’ Choi and Kazuhiro Nakamura will clash for the vacant middleweight strap while Kazunori Yokota will defend his featherweight title for the first time against Shoji Maruyama.
PRIDE veteran Nakamura earned his shot at the middleweight belt after defeating former champ Ryuta Sakurai back in October. ‘RYO’ comes into this fight undefeated in his last four fights and has defeated the likes of Takenori Sato and Bernard Ackah. DEEP’s middleweight division has been without a champion since 2010 when Riki Fukuda vacated the belt to sign with the UFC.
Sengoku veteran Yokota will be defending his featherweight belt for the first time since capturing the title last February at DEEP 57th Impact. Yokota and Shoji previously clashed back in June 2011, a bout that saw Yokota dominate, earning him the decision victory. Shoji has gone 3-0 since that loss to Yokota.
It does come as a surprise to see Shoji get the shot over Korean prospect Doo Ho Choi, who has impressed many with his performances in DEEP recently.