Masakazu Imanari | Daniel Herbertson: Sherdog.com
Japanese promotion Deep has finalized the nine-bout lineup for “Mayhem in Macau,” the company’s first ever trip to China, set to take place Jan. 8 at the Venetian Macao’s 9,000-seat CotaiArena.
A trio of Deep champions will take part in the event, though only one will be defending his title. Megaton champ Yusuke Kawaguchi will put his super-heavyweight belt on the line against former police officer and judo stylist Kazuhisa Tazawa. Deep bantamweight ace Masakazu Imanari will face vastly less experienced South Korean Jae Hun Moon, while welterweight champion Yuya Shirai will meet Jeong Gyo Park, both in non-title affairs.
Kawaguchi has found mixed results in his year away from the Deep ring, dropping bouts to Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski and K-1 veteran Peter Graham, while also picking up wins over “Colossus” James Thompson and jiu-jitsu stylist Edmund Cavalcante Jr. The once-beaten Tazawa notched a pair of wins under the Deep banner in 2010, and notably defeated Heat heavyweight ace Cristiano Kaminishi in 2007.
Imanari has not tasted defeat since being eliminated from Dream’s featherweight grand prix by eventual tournament champion Bibiano Fernandes in May 2009. In the time since, the leglock specialist has gone 5-0, with wins over the likes of Tomoya Miyashita, Isao Terada, and most recently, Daiki Hata. Little information is available on his opponent, Moon, who lost a unanimous decision to Akihiro Sakurai in the Deep-affiliated Grachan promotion last July.
Similar to Imanari, Shirai has won five straight bouts since being bounced from Dream’s welterweight grand prix by Jason High in April 2009. Since wresting the Deep welterweight title from Seichi Ikemoto in January, the Team M.A.D. fighter has defeated British notable Che Mills via first-round rear-naked choke, and taken a second unanimous decision over Shigetoshi Iwase. Park, meanwhile, has only one professional bout on his ledger, an August knockout loss to Yuta Nakamura.
In other matchups, former Deep middleweight champion Ryuta Sakurai will go up against French kickboxer Yoann Gouaida; Jewels poster girl Saori Ishioka will face Thailand’s Ann Wongkhamma; “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 competitor Andy Wang will take on Deep stalwart Yasushi Kitazaki; Luiz Andrade I draws Rodrigo Caporal at lightweight; and jiu-jitsu standout Marcos Souza will make his MMA debut against Chinese muay Thai convert Alex Niu.