Shooto Bantamweight (123 lbs.) Champion Shinichi "B.J." Kojima today announced his decision to vacate the title, citing a slowly-healing ACL in his right knee. Kojima - who has held the belt since October 2006 - suffered the injury in a non-title bout loss to Nova Uniao's rising star Jussier "Formiga" da Silva last July. Da Silva was expected to rematch Kojima with the title on the line shortly thereafter, but negotiations between the fighter's management and Shooto brass met an impasse.
While no definite time frame was given, Kojima told reporters that he hopes to return to action later this year.
A new champion could be crowned as soon as March 22nd, officials say, when leading Shooto promoter Sustain holds its second "The Way of Shooto: Like a Tiger, Like a Dragon" event at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
No potential contenders were named, but one strong candidate would be the man "B.J." took the belt from, Mamoru Yamaguchi, who's reeled off three impressive wins since returning to MMA last October and currently sits at #3 in Shooto's 123-pound rankings.