Japan Cup Delayed Again, Two Participants ConfirmedThe eight-man Japan Cup bantamweight tournament, first targeted for April 18th, has been delayed once again. The event will now take place on May 29th at the Saitama Community Arena in Saitama, Japan. MMARising.com learned of the change from a source close to the promotion late Tuesday.

While most of the field remains unknown, MMARising.com has confirmed that WEC veteran Kenji Osawa and former DEEP Featherweight Champion Takafumi Otsuka will both take part. Though he was contacted to compete in the tournament, Hiroshi “Iron” Nakamura has declined to be involved.

According to sources, the latest delay for the event is due to a variety of reasons, and the switch in venue to the Saitama Community Arena is thought to be the primary cause. The venue is larger than others previously targeted by the promotion and housed Sengoku: “Tenth Battle” on September 23, 2009. That event was alleged to have drawn close to 7,500 spectators, though sources who were in attendance suggest that the true figure was less than half of that.

The Japan Cup, which is led by former Pride Fighting Championships president Nobuyuki Sakakibara and vice president Hiroyuki Kato, was previously set to be held at an unnamed venue seating between 2,000 and 3,000 spectators.

Additional reports have suggested that naming issues involving the tournament and debut event may have contributed to the latest delay in scheduling, though MMARising.com has learned that this was likely only a very small factor in the decision. An official press conference for the new promotion was initially expected to take place this week, but has been postponed and a revised date is not known.

Tournament participants Osawa (16-9-2) and Otsuka (11-7-1) will both bring a considerable amount of experience into the eight-man field and could be among the early favourites to advance on to the finals. Osawa is coming off of a Split Decision victory over Yoshiro Maeda at Dream.14 last May and has won three of his last four fights. He remains the only man to have ever knocked out bantamweight standout and current UFC competitor Takeya Mizugaki.

Otsuka ended a three-fight losing skid when he defeated Tomohiko Hori at DEEP: 51 Impact this past December. He holds notable wins over Dokonjonosuke Mishima and Masanori “Kin-chan” Kanehara, and fought five times in 2010. Otsuka has only been finished once, in his October 2006 pro debut.

Nakamura (12-4-4) was invited to take part in the tournament, but declined the offer and may compete overseas in the coming year. “Iron” most recently defeated DEEP Bantamweight Champion Masakazu “Ashikan Judan” Imanari in a non-title bout at DEEP: 52 Impact in late February. He is currently in talks to return to DEEP, but may compete outside of Japan before the end of 2011 if an opportunity arises.

As first reported last month, the quarterfinals and semi-finals of the Japan Cup tournament will be held in one night, with the finals to follow one to two months later. A revised date for the tournament finals, which were originally set to be held in May, has not yet been determined. The winner and one or more semi-finalists are expected to take part in a planned DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix later this year.



(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)

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  2. Yay.