DREAM Lightweight Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki is very likely to compete at the upcoming DEEP: “50th Impact” event on October 24th. Sources close to the promotion tell MMARising.com that Aoki will compete on the Tokyo card against a mid-level, non-contender opponent.
In other related news, DEEP officials are also in talks with Hayato “Mach” Sakurai to compete on the same card. Sakurai’s participation is by no means certain, but both sides are involved in an ongoing dialogue. Sakurai made three appearances for DEEP in 2003, going 2-1 during that time.
SKILL MMA first reported on the possibility of Aoki (24-5-0, 1 NC) competing at DEEP: “50th Impact” late last month. He remains under contract to DREAM and is unlikely to face any serious tests on the DEEP card, but Aoki’s participation is said to be all but certain. An opponent has not been determined, but DEEP boss Shigeru Saeki has stated that Aoki will not be matched up against a top contender. Aoki is set to face Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio in a non-title bout at Dream.16 on September 25th.
Sakurai (35-11-2), meanwhile, has dropped three straight fights for the first time in his career, with all three losses coming via stoppage. The veteran remains one of the top stars in Japan, but questions surrounding Sakurai’s dedication to training have led to speculation that his heart may no longer be in fighting. It remains uncertain whether Sakurai will take part in the 10th anniversary event, but DEEP officials are hopeful that he will compete.
DEEP: “50th Impact” takes place on October 24th at JCB Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)