- Written by Peter Leghorn and used with his permission. Photos by Peter Leghorn.
The main event of DEEP 91, Takafumi Otsuka vs Rikuto “Dark” Shirakawa, kicked off as expected, straight out of the gate Shirakawa drove forward guns blazing and a right straight getting through. Otsuka slipped as he turned to avoid the barrage and, using fantastic footwork instinctively hit a perfect double leg. Regretfully during the exchange and while rotating to escape Shirakawa appeared to suffer a shoulder dislocation. Recognizing something was wrong and seeing the fighter in pain veteran referee Wada called the fight off at just 26 seconds of the 1st giving Otsuka a TKO victory. Acknowledging it was an anticlimactic end to their contest, Otsuka offered “Dark” a rematch, something I am sure fans will be happy about.
The co-main event pitted 2 very physical, powerful and skillful athletes against each other as Juntaro “Fighting Bull” Ushiku locked horns with Krazy Bee`s Kyosuke Yokoyama.
In round 1 Yokoyama slipped as he threw a punch and Ishiku stole top position, Yokoyama stood but found himself bullied into the cage. The Krazy Bee representative showed his wrestling pedigree with a high crotch to double leg. While Yokoyama was attempting to take back position Ishiku showed his scrambling skills and rolled to escape putting Yokoyama on the defensive again. Yokoyama worked a single but could not get deep enough, as they stood Ishiki scored huge hip throw to soccer kick that partially lands
Round 2 saw both fighters tentative, each knowing they would pay for a single mistake. Aaa a result a lot of feigns and 1 shot strikes were thrown. Slipping under a punch Ishiku marches Yokoyama to the fence where they once again jostle for position, both very physically evenly matched. Referee called a break and they resumed standing where they gauged distance with matching left hooks. Yokoyama kicked at long range and Ishiku landed a well times left hook.
With the match very close the 3rd round, while Yokoyama took initiative frequently, it was Ishiku who was inching out the control and threatening with a Kimura counter to the single leg. The Fighting Bull was relentless, securing a late takedown to leave a lasting impression in a gritty and grueling match. All 3 judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Ishiku.
Fan favorite Shinsho Anzai and the durabale Yoichiro Sato came out banging. Sato implemented combinations and was finding success until Anzai, leaned on his wrestling, switched gears and secured a fast take down against the fence. Sato countered with a Kimura only to have Anzai step right over and try to go for mount. Showing his jujitsu skills Sato countered with a leg lock attempt forcing Anzai to escape and settle for guard. A break was called for a cut check on Anzai before action resumed. Both fighters mixed up their powerful strikes well, a strong kick from Anzai and accurate lead hook from Sato land.
Round 2 saw Anzai keep Sato guessing as he started to work the body before wrenching another textbook single leg. As both fighters got to work on the ground the referee paused the fight to have another look at the cut on Anzai. It was deep and unfortunately the fight was called off at 39 seconds of the 2nd round. Sato gestured to his elbow but the blow was deemed to have come from an unitnentional foul. As a result the judges gave scores for the 5:39 of action and rendered a majority decsion for Anzai, 20-19, 20-18, 19-19. At the conclusion of event an announcement was made stating that footage would be examined to determine nature of cut in order to make result official.
Undefeated Yuki Ito was considered the favorite for his bout with Yamato Fujita, even so, many expected Fujita to pose a stiff test with his amateur boxing pedigree and experience facing top opposition. The southpaw Ito blended rear kicks and straight lefts to stun Fujita before body locking him down and taking mount. From there he strategically used ground and pound to pressure Fujita into giving his back before sinking in the rear naked choke for the finish at 4:24 of round 1.
Juri Ohara and Yukinori Okamura were happy to trade vicious punches and kicks hunting finishes from the onset. A flush right straight right from Ohara found its mark flooring Okamura at 1:02 of the opening stanza
Shooto Watanabe put on a grappling clinic against an outmatched Yoichiro Kuranobu. Seizing a constricting back mount Watanabe delivered shot after shot to the head. Any glimmer of hope for Kuranobu was quickly extinguished as he fell back into same position, all things considered he did a remarkable job just to see it to the final bell. With 20-17 scores across the board it as a dominant performance for Watanabe.
Daisuke Endo and Kazuhide Shirota put on spirited performances in a well matched bout. Kazuhide launched a beautiful hip throw, a trip takedown and was constantly in motion looking for submissions. Endo wasnt to be outdone, peeling off Shirota he escaped, reversed and did damage with flurries of punches and elbows against the cage. It was a competitive fight, Endo out hustled Shirota at key points and that seemed to be the factor. 2 judges decided on 19-19 with “must” for Endo and 3rd a clear 20-18 also for Endo.
Mizuki Furuse showed Mika Sakamoto’s striking little respect as she plowed forward from the opening bell blasting away. Mika displayed great heart, dig deep and answered but the power difference was clear. The damage mounted until Furuse sealed the deal 4:28 Round 1 by referee stoppage.
Tomohiro Adaniya dictated and controlled the majority of the grappling exchanges with Kaito Sakimaki. Double leg takedowns and back takes worked for Adaniya as he looked for the rear naked choke finish. Sakimaki desperately tried to capitalize on small opportunities with triangle choke and leg submissions but got over enthusiastic, up kicking a downed opponent. A point was docked giving an even bigger lead to Adaniya who walked away the clear victor with 20-17×3 scores.
Nao Yoneda bulldozed through Ibuki Shimada. Firing a hard 1-2 Nao transitioned to a double leg and passed to side where he remained heavy. From there he locked up the Kimura/keylock submission at 2:27 of round 1
Kazuki Shibuya showed great athleticism and timing to turn the corner and hit takedowns. Fuhito “Hashan” Hasegawa was active off his back though, transitioning to armbar, kneebar and guillotine attempts. Both fighters scrambled, escaped and turned tables on each other, judges were torn, all scoring the fight 19-19. “Must” decision had 2 side with Hashan for the win, rewarding his submission attempts and effort to finish
Koya Kanda swung for the fences and sent Yukihiro Sasakireeling to the fence where he finished with some vicious elbows at 2:17 of round 1
An aggressive Tsubasa Akiyama threatened with heavy strikes to illicit a reaction which he then capitalised on with takedowns and guillotine attempts. Noriaki defended well but Akiyama was a step ahead and finally locked up an inescapable guillotine at 4:03 of round 2
Hayashi Yutaka established the range and used his reach to tag Rikito Tago for the most part of their match securing the decision, 20-18×2 and 19-19 (must Hayashi)