Katsunori Kikuno, lightweight champion of Deep, will reportedly defend his belt against former Sengoku titleholder Mizuto Hirota at Deep “55 Impact.”
While only Hirota’s participation at the event has been made official, news of the matchup was tweeted Wednesday by Satoru Kitaoka, the man from whom Hirota took the Sengoku lightweight title in 2009.
The bout marks the card’s third championship affair, as featherweight ace Koichiro Matsumoto will defend against returning Yoshida Dojo product Tatsunao Nagakura, while heavyweight titlist Kazuhisa Tazawa will clash with Georgian judoka Levan Razmadze.
A pupil of early-UFC veteran Tsuyoshi Kosaka, Kikuno won his belt in April 2009, knocking out Matsumoto in the final of Deep’s lightweight title tournament. The 29-year-old Kyokushin karate specialist embarked on a 2-2 run in Dream, alternating wins over Andre “Dida” and Kuniyoshi Hironaka with losses to Eddie Alvarez and Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante.
Currently, Kikuno has won back-to-back starts, defending his Deep title against Nobuhiro Obiya in October before returning to Dream in May to outpoint veteran Daisuke Nakamura.
The championship bout will be Hirota’s first action since having his arm broken by Shinya Aoki in December 2009. Prior to that gruesome submission loss, the 30-year-old had knocked out Kitaoka and Mitsuhiro Ishida in consecutive outings. Now a freelance fighter, Hirota was a longtime staple at Gutsman Shooto Dojo.