Deep 97 took place in Tokyo on Sunday as Junataro Ushiku beat reigning champion Yamasu Satoshi via split decision to win the featherweight title.

Founded in 2001 by Shigeru Saeki, Deep is one of the oldest MMA promotions in the world and the show was making its return to the fabled Korakuen Hall for the first time in six months.

Satoshi had held the belt since 2018 when he beat then champion Takahiro Ashida in a rematch. He went on to defend his belt with a second-round knockout against Daiki Hata at Deep 89.

Nicknamed ‘Dominator’ the 30-year-old came into this fight in a rich vein of form and was riding an impressive eight fight winning streak.

Ushiku, the challenger, rose to prominence fighting in Pancrase and gained his title shot with a five fight winning streak including a first round KO via soccer kick against Harry Stallone at Deep 93.

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Early takedown

From the outset it was the southpaw, Ushiku who looked sharper in the exchanges and scored an early takedown. He used his jab to good effect with some solid body kicks before securing a second takedown towards the end of the round.

Ushiku continued to use the left kick to the body to good effect in the second and dropped the champion with a beautiful counter left hand. The ensuing scramble saw Satoshi respond well as he looked to control Ushiku’s arm with an attempt at a kimura.

Satoshi’s takedown defence improved later in the round and having failed in an earlier attempt, Ushiku shot for a double leg only to be met with a knee that left him flat on the canvas. Satoshi landed some hammer fists and then stomps to the grounded challenger who took him down from the ankle, only to be met with several kicks to the side of the head.

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Eating elbows

As they returned to their feet once more, Ushiku again went for the takedown but ate countless 12-6 elbows for his trouble before finally getting the champion to the floor.

Ushiku secured another takedown in the third but it was Satoshi who made the most of the situation, working from the bottom and attempting to finish the fight with another armlock. Ushiku, though, looked in excellent condition and scrambled to take the back while searching for the rear naked choke.

Satoshi used the fence brilliantly to break free, finding his feet and unleashing several more soccer kicks. Ushiku looked unfazed though, and used his legs to entangle the champion back to the ground. Ushiku appeared to have more left in the tank and looked to again work the choke, finishing strongly in what was a really engaging battle.

Four of the five judges scored the bout in favour of Ushiku. He becomes the new Deep featherweight champion and extends his record to 18-7-1 while Satoshi drops to 11-5-0.

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

New champion

In the co-main event there was a new microweight champion crowned as Saori Oshima dominated Mizuki Oshiro with a first round TKO. As soon as the bell rang, Oshima pounced on her opponent, took her down with ease and went to work.

With Oshiro’s head and arm locked up and her other arm mostly being controlled by Oshima’s legs, it was only a matter of time. In what seemed like an endless onslaught of unanswered punches, the referee had eventually seen enough as a delighted Oshima claimed the belt and went to celebrate with her young twins who were cageside with her husband.

She takes her record to 3-1 and is crowned the inaugural Deep microweight champion. Oshiro slides to 2-2.

Keisuke Takazawa / MMA Planet

Point deduction

Reina Miura lost a unanimous decision in a kickboxing bout. a rematch against Marina Kumagai. This clash was one of the major talking points of the night.

There was an uproar ahead of the fight as Miura initially missed weight by almost 2kgs. ‘King Reina’ blamed missing weight on eating while sleep walking.

Had she won, the bout would have been ruled a ‘no contest’ and she began with a two point deduction as Kumagai avenged her split decision loss at Deep 95.

Deep 97, Tokyo, September 20th
Juntaro Ushiko def Satoshi Yamasu via Decision (Split) (For Deep Featherweight Title)
Saori Oshima def Mizuki Oshiro via TKO (Punches) at 2:09 of Round 1 (For Deep Microweight Title)
Daisuke Nakamura def Tatsunao Nagakura via KO (Punch) at 0:16 of Round 2
Kickboxing: Marina Kumagai def King Reina Miura via Decision (Unanimous)
Yamato Fujita def Kosuke Suzuki def via KO (Punch) at 0:31 of Round 2
Nao Yoneda def Taito via Decision (Unanimous)
Kotetsu Hara def Hibino Junya via Decision (Unanimous)