I haven't been keeping up with the Japanese action (except for PRIDE) to the degree that I used to which is frustrating as Japan is still probably the #1 country for MMA (with U.S. 2nd, Brazil 3rd and Europe a combined 4th).
Shinya Aoki defended his Shooto middleweight belt from the fighter he beat last year to take it, Akira Kikuchi. As the pic below shows, Aoki has mad rubber-guard skills. He never got the submission but came close enough times to win the decision from an informed panel of Japanese judges. I wish U.S. judges were sophisticated enough to score major points for close submissions -- UFC fights are too often decided by takedown and lay and pray.
One note of bitching -- the weight class confusion continues to drive me batty -- Shooto's middle weight class is 76kg or 167lbs. MMAWeekly has Kikuchi ranked at #8 welterweight (170lbs) and Aoki ranked at #6 lightweight (160lbs). Totally annoying! Aoki would clearly be too small to fight in the UFC welterweight class, but Kikuchi doesn't seem that much bigger. I'm glad the UFC is signing more Japanese fighters, but I still await the day they get the very top fighters. I'm curious to see if UFC vet Nick Diaz can hang with PRIDE champ Takanori Gomi although once again size differences might come to bear -- Diaz is a UFC welterweight and I'm sure Gomi would fight lightweight in the UFC.
Not much to say about the DEEP event except the pic below shows that the Japanese have a different approach to presenting female fighters than we have in the U.S. Kind of disconcerting to see the fighters cutsied up in their little skirts and still beating the crap out of one another!
Then there's bodogFight. My wife and I were channell surfing before bed last night and caught a couple of fights apparently from their U.S. vs Russia event from December. The fights were pretty mediocre and I must say I prefer cage fights to those in the ring -- the ropes seem to play too big a role and really limit takedowns!
My wife's commentary was amusing. She described the setting of the fights as "strobelights and skanks welcoming the fighters into a hotel conference room." Ouch!