Title Bouts Scheduled for Deep

By: Jordan Breen
Jul 1, 2009
Come August, Deep will put two titles on the line, and welcome a former champion home.

The Japanese promotion announced Tuesday that its Aug. 23 "43 Impact" card at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo will feature featherweight champion Dokonjonosuke Mishima defending his title against Dream veteran Takafumi Otsuka and Masakazu Imanari putting his 137-pound crown on the line against Tomohiko Hori. Also on the card, UFC veteran and former Deep middleweight titlist Ryo Chonan will make his return to the promotion in which he first made his name against a yet-to-be-named opponent.

Mishima, 37, has fought just once since taking Deep's 145-pound title from Masakazu Imanari in May 2008, earning a second-round stoppage over unheralded Toshiaki Kitada in front of his hometown Osaka crowd in December. Earlier this year, the exuberant UFC and Pride veteran was targeted by World Victory Road for the Sengoku featherweight tournament, but those plans were nixed when Mishima suffered a knee injury in training.

The 22-year-old Otsuka battled his way past both Sengoku tournament semifinalist Masanori Kanehara and former lightweight King of Pancrase Shoji Maruyama within six weeks late last year in order to earn a berth in Dream's 139-pound grand prix. However, Otsuka lost a highly entertaining unanimous verdict to current semifinalist Bibiano Fernandes in the opening round in March.

It was also Bibiano Fernandes who ousted Masakazu Imanari from Dream's grand prix, taking a commanding unanimous decision over the expert leglocker in May. It will be the 33-year-old Imanari's first defense of his Deep 137-pound title that he won last August by heel hooking Hiroshi Umemura to win the vacant crown. Hori, 27, earned his way to a title bid through Deep's Protect Cup contendership tournament. After defeating Toshihiro Shimizu in December, Hori bested Seiji Akao and Isao Terada in the same night in March to become Imanari's first title challenger. However, Hori is coming off of a unanimous post loss in Sweden to Sami Aziz in May.

Chonan won Deep's middleweight title in February 2006, stopping then-champion Ryuta Sakurai on a cut in the first round. However, Chonan vacated that title in December 2007 in order to sign with the UFC. After cutting to welterweight, Chonan went 1-3 in the Octagon and was cut this past April after losing a razor-thin split decision to Canadian prospect T.J. Grant. The bout will be Chonan's first bout in Japan since crushing overmatched South Korean Doo Won Seo in his home prefecture of Yamagata in June 2007.

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