Deep already had plans to crown its inaugural strawweight champion in 2016. Now, the company also finds itself in need of a new flyweight ace.
Officials from the Japanese promotion on Tuesday announced that two-time Deep flyweight titleholder Yuki Motoya has vacated his 125-pound title. Motoya, 26, was scheduled to fight Brazilian prospect Allan Nascimento at last week’s Rizin event, but the bout was canceled at the 11th hour after Motoya reportedly suffered health complications related to his weight cut.
The Nagoya native became Deep’s first flyweight champ in 2012 but lost the belt in his first defense against Tatsumitsu Wada. Motoya reclaimed the gold from Wada in 2014 and successfully defended it once -- an October 2015 decision win over Sota Kojima -- before relinquishing the position.
The throne will not remain vacant for long: Deep’s fourth-generation flyweight king will be decided on June 26, when ex-champ Wada (15-8-2) will tangle with former Shooto standout Yuya Shibata (12-3) in the co-main event of Deep “76 Impact.”
June 26 will see the launch of Deep’s four-man title tournament at 115 pounds. The card’s two semifinal matchups will feature the aforementioned Kojima (18-6-4), Haruo Ochi (12-6-2) and Hiroyuki Abe (13-8), as well as another competitor to be named later.
Also set for “76 Impact” is the return of former lightweight ruler Katsunori Kikuno (23-8-2), who will make his post-UFC debut against an as-yet-unnamed opponent. The show’s main event has reigning Deep lightweight champ Satoru Kitaoka (37-14-9) gunning for his fourth title defense opposite Kota Shimoishi (16-3).