Shinya Aoki at DEEP Official Gym Impact for Thursday's press conference. Photo by Sportsnavi.
DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki will return to the promotion where he got his start on October 24 when he meets former boxing titlist Yokthai Sithoar at DEEP's "50th Impact" in Tokyo, Japan. The bout was revealed by the promotion today at a press conference inside Tokyo's DEEP Official Gym Impact.
The match will mark Aoki's first MMA action in DEEP since 2004, when he suffered the first loss of his MMA career, a knockout at the hands of Jutaro Nakao. Aoki had previously gone 3-0 in DEEP, winning the promotion's 180-pound "Future King" tournament in 2003. While the "Tobikan Judan" is known for staying active, the DEEP show will come just one month after his DREAM.16 decisioning of Marcus Aurelio, his quickest turnaround in seven fights.
Sithoar is a former Lumpinee Stadium muay Thai champion who turned professional boxer in 1994. Three years later, according to BoxRec, he captured the WBA World super flyweight (115 lbs.) title, which he twice defended before dropping to Satoshi Iida. Sithoar is currently 35 years old, has not boxed professionally since 2004, and will be making his MMA debut against Aoki. Interestingly, despite a respectable overall record of 29-6-3, Sithoar went 1-5-3 in Japan during his pro boxing career.
Given his opponent's credentials, the submission specialist Aoki will be the odds-on favorite to use the stand-up fighter as a grappling dummy. Sithoar acknowledged as much in a statement released by DEEP and, in boxerly fashion, said he'll be working on his takedown defense and hoping to catch Aoki with a one-punch KO come October 24.