Former UFC middleweight title contender Yushin Okami will compete on the Japanese fight circuit for the first time since 2006 when he makes his Deep debut next month.
The organization on Wednesday announced that Okami will square off against Ryuta Sakurai in a rematch of a 2004 bout from Pride FC. The three-round welterweight affair is slated to co-headline “Deep 75 Impact,” which takes place Feb. 27 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Okami ground out Sakurai for two rounds to earn a unanimous decision in the pair’s first encounter at Pride “Bushido 2,” which was to be Okami’s first and only appearance for the late promotion. The Wajutsu Keishukai fighter would go on to compile a 13-5 record inside the Octagon, competing for the UFC from 2006 to 2013. Okami is coming off a three-fight stint with World Series of Fighting which ended with back-to-back losses against Jon Fitch and David Branch.
Sakurai, Deep’s original middleweight champion, will fight at welterweight for the first time in his 20-year, 50-fight career. The 44-year-old journeyman has not earned a victory since 2013, dropping four straight to the likes of Mamed Khalidov and Svetlozar Savov.
Topping the bill for Deep’s 75th numbered card is the ceremonial retirement match of former Deep welterweight champ Yuya Shirai, who will tangle with a slimmed-down Ikuhisa Minowa at 170 pounds.
Two reigning Deep champions will compete in non-title undercard bouts, as bantamweight ace Takafumi Otsuka takes on Daisuke Endo and flyweight titlist Tatsumitsu Wada meets Jae Nam Yoo.