This story is written by Peter Leghorn and used with his permission.
This Sunday sees DEEP return to New Pier Hall for 91st Impact. While the card may lack some star power, DEEP has a reputation for putting together solid events that outshine their expectations.
It will be a clash of styles and personalities for the main event as veteran workhorse wrestler Takafumi Otsuka takes on aggressive “bad boy” striker Rikuta “Dark” Shirakawa.
This would seem to be Otsuka’s fight to lose as he has a sizeable experience advantage not to mention taken on, and taken out, elite competition. Combining footwork, positioning and relentless chain wrestling Otsuka sets a pace others cannot keep and his technique carries to the later rounds when opponents fade. Staying calm under the pressure, timing the takedowns and positional dominance will be the keys to Otsuka’s success and the odds would appear to be firmly in his favor.
At first glance Shirakawa would seem to be from the typical “Outsider” mold, a fast paced brawling style that doesn’t involve backing down. “Dark” has developed and fine tuned his aggressive style though, trading on the feet and mixing up his punches well, firing shots from different angles with excellent timing. Whether Shirawawa goes for broke with a blitz or holds back for a counter may determine his level of success, the former likely yielding a better outcome. One thing the “Outsider” veteran would appear to have going for him is that he has a tendency to rise to the occasion and do his best when the cards are stacked against him.
In the co-main event, “fighting bull” Juntaro Ushiku will lock horns with Krazy Bee’s Kyosuke Yokoyama. Ushiku certainly lives up to his nickname, plowing forward he prefers to strike his way into grappling range and secure takedowns. Yokoyama, a solid grappler in his own right, may be the better striker, especially at distance with his kicks. This will be a very grueling physical fight that will be decided on how well Yokoyama can avoid the clinch, Ushiku is extremely good against the cage and is not just strong, he has the technique and transitions to get out of trouble and stay on top. Yokoyama is positionally very sound and has slick back takes from standing, in the scrambles he will need to keep it crafty and not get drawn into a head on clash.
In a not to be missed bout, fan favorite Shinsho “Animal” Anzai against rugged veteran Yoichiro Sato in an entertaining match up what could steal the show.
Known for his blistering exchanges and banging it out on the feet It is easy to forget that Anzai has a very solid wrestling backbone. Utilizing that wrestling should open the door to victory. Sato has fallen victim to being held down in the past and shouldn’t pose a threat to “Animal” off his back. On the other hand, if he elects to swing for the fences with Sato expect a sensational war of attrition. With his heavy hands, iron chin, forward pressure and timing Anzai can test Sato’s chin and outlast his foe to see his hand raised.
Yoichiro Sato is a very durable JuJitsu fighter with a penchant for striking. On the feet Sato is the refined and versatile striker, delivering best blows at the end of combinations he likes to work from a stiff jab and understands range very well. As scoring a takedown and achieving top control will be extremely difficult on Anzai, Sato’s gameplan will probably be to strike. Staying active and peppering Anzai with momentum halting shots would serve Sato well, he is no stranger to tooth and nail fights and will need that grit and heart to topple Anzai.
In other action, Yamato Fujita faces another stiff test in Yuki Ito. Fujita kicked off his mma career with a memorable war with Tenshin. Since then he has matured as an mma fighter and is a lot better than his record may suggest. Ito went 8-0 to take the Outsider 55kg belt before racking up another 3 consecutive victories. Ito has not faced the kind of competition Fujita has, however, he has not lost a fight and will be extremely confident. It will be polished technique vs wild intensity as both fighters look to make a statement with a win.
- Kyosuke Yokoyama vs. Juntaro Ushiku 145 lbs
- Tomohiro Adaniya vs. Kaito Sakamaki 125 lbs
- Yamato Fujita vs. Yuki Ito 125 lbs
- Daisuke Endo vs. Kazuhide Shirota 135 lbs
- Mizuki Furuse vs. Mika Sakamoto 106 lbs
- Nao Yoneda vs. Ibuki Shimada 170 lbs
- Michihito Abe vs. Fuhito Hasegawa 135 lbs
- Koya Kanda vs. Yukihiro Sasaki 145 lbs
- Yutaka Hayashi vs. Rikito Tago 115 lbs
- Takafumi Otsuka vs. Rikuto Shirakawa 135 lbs
- Yoichiro Sato vs. Shinsho Anzai 170 lbs
- Juri Ohara vs. Yukinori Okamura 155 lbs
- Shooto Watanabe vs. Yoichiro Kuranobu 135 lbs
- Tsubasa Akiyama vs. Kozo Moriwaki 125 lbs