While there were no big surprises, there was plenty of action as DEEP celebrated its 10th anniversary with its biggest card ever, 50 Impact, held before a sold-out JCB Hall in Tokyo on Sunday.
On the undercard, DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki returned to the promotion from whence he originated to take on Yokthai Sithoar, a former muay Thai and boxing champion who was making his MMA debut. Predictably, Japan's top 155-pounder took the outsized striker down, briefly threatening with a triangle choke before opting to submit Sithoar with a keylock just 60 seconds into the bout. Aoki will next compete on FEG's annual Dynamite!! card on New Year's Eve against an opponent to be announced.
In the evening's main event, karateka Katsunori Kikuno defended his DEEP lightweight title for the first time since winning it over 18 months ago in a three-round battle against the gritty Nobuhiro Obiya. After a dominant first round from the champion, Obiya battled back, eventually finishing strong in the third, but it proved to be too little too late. Kikuno won the bout on four of five judges' scorecards, with only Yuji Shimada giving Obiya the nod.
Elsewhere, Yuya Shirai defended his DEEP welterweight title in a rematch with Shigetoshi Iwase; bantamweight champ Masakazu Imanari took a thin, non-title majority decision over "DJ.taiki," Daiki Hata; DREAM Super Hulk tourney winner Minowaman subbed another 300-plus pound opponent in Chang Hee Kim; and WEC vet Yoshiro Maeda took a majority decision over former DEEP featherweight titlist Takafumi Otsuka.
Deep Lightweight Title Fight
Katsunori Kikuno def. Nobuhiro Obiya via majority decision
Deep Welterweight Title Fight
Yuya Shirai def. Shigetoshi Iwase via unanimous decision
Masakazu Imanari def. "DJ.taiki" Daiki Hata via majority decision
Shinya Aoki def. Yokthai Sithoar via submission (keylock) R1, 1:00
Sanae Kikuta def. Lee Sak Kim via TKO (corner stoppage) R1, 1:21
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Chang Hee Kim via submission (armbar) R1, 2:07
Ryo Chonan def. Jun Hee Moon via TKO (punches) R3, 2:57
Yoshiro Maeda def. Takafumi Otsuka via majority decision
Yoshiyuki Nakanishi def. Katsuyori Shibata via TKO (punches) R1, 4:06
Shoji Maruyama def. Jin Suk Jung via TKO (punches) R1, 2:58
Hidetaka Monma def. Yoshihisa Yamamoto via submission (arm-triangle choke) R1, 1:07
Ryuta Noji def. Hiroshi "Giant Babo" Nagao via TKO (knees) R1, 1:33
Hiroshi "Iron" Nakamura def. Tatsumitsu Wada via unanimous decision
Yusaku Nakamura def. Isao Terada via KO (punch) R2, 3:48