I mentioned that this weekend was packed, but this should probably drive the point home if you didn’t believe me the first time. Two events from Japan, one from China, lots of action. Plenty of interesting fights to go around. Just take a moment to scroll back up to breathe in the majestic promo image. Yes, that’s totally real.
We begin in Japan with DEEP 84 Impact: Differ Ariake Final. Main event is almost guaranteed to be a barnburner between Korea’s Je Hoon Moon (11-10) and Japanese standout Yuki Motoya (19-5). Moon does not come to play, has great accuracy when he’s on point and is a great all-around athlete. He’s coming off a win against former UFC talent Anthony Birchak, and has career wins over Kevin Petshi, Soo Chul Kim and Kai Asakura. Motoya’s a fireball that has constantly has exciting bouts, and always goes for the finish. Takahiro Ashida (21-8, 2 draws) fights Satoshi Yamasu (8-4), while finishing machine Naoto Miyazaki (14-4, 3 draws) steps in against Koji Takeda , who keeps finding ways to pull off Karelin Lift variations. He’s fun. A LOT of fun.
DEEP 84 Impact: Differ Ariake Final begins Friday night at midnight (into Saturday morning). As fun as these cards usually are, there’s no formal streaming service to watch live.
As usual, the internet is your friend on this one.
Fight Nights Global pitches their tent in Bozhou, China for their Fight Nights Global: Summer Cup event. Main dish for this one? Belarusian Alexei Kudin (23-12, 1 draw) vs former UFC fighter Cody East (13-3). Why, yes. That same Cody East you’re thinking of. After losing brutally against Walt Harris and Curtis Blaydes, he was quietly and unceremoniously released from the UFC and earned a rebound decision win against Tony Lopez last December.
Kudin’s had some crushing finishes in the past, but most of his recent wins have come via decision. Perhaps this is a move to get him back on track, but you never really know how things can play out.
Flyweight Shamil Dzhakhbarov (2-0) takes a major step up by fighting WLF veteran Xiaoliang Zheng (11-6). This is a very strange card, with four Chinese fighters making their professional debuts. It is what it is.
That one starts at Saturday at 8:00am EST. As with the DEEP card, the internet is your friend.
Pancrase 297 graces us on Saturday night into Sunday morning, with three title fights on the line. Takashi Sato (13-1) and Glaico França (18-5) battle it out for the King of Pancrase welterweight title. Sato’s won five in a row, with four straight finishes. He can be a bit reckless, but finds ways for it to pay off with brutal striking.
França was the Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 winner, defeating current Titan FC fighter Raush Manfio and then-undefeated fighter Joaquim Silva. After winning in the final against Fernando Bruno, he dropped back to back decisions against James Vick and Gregor Gillespie, and hasn’t lost since. Three straight finishes in Brazil’s Astra FC, then a decision win against Hiroyuki Tetsuka at Pancrase 293 got him this opportunity, and the move up to welterweight in his post-UFC run appears to have done wonders for him.
The absolute best flyweight fight on the planet outside of the UFC’s division will also be on this card, as Yuya Wakamatsu (9-2) faces Mamoru Yamaguchi (31-11, 5 draws) for divisional supremacy and bragging rights. Wakamatsu is incapable of having a boring fight, and has no wins by decision. His sensational title challenge against Senzi Ikeda was a Fight of the Year candidate, even if Yuya came up short. You just have to watch the whole thing, because he’s truly a talented fighter with otherworldly tenacity. Yamaguchi has been thrilling crowds since his debut back in 1999 (!!), with wins over Baret Yoshida, Yasuhiro Urishitani and the current champion, the aforementioned Senzo Ikeda. He would win the King of Pancrase title in his division only to lose it to Ikeda in a rematch last August.
Satoshi Miyokawa (2-3, 1 draw) faces Ryusuke Noda (2-0) in the men’s strawweight tournament final. If you’ve never seen a men’s strawweight fight, you’re missing out. These guys go nonstop, and can really put on a show.
Takasume Kume (21-5-3) is a name you’d be forgiven for not being familiar with, but he’s good, and he fights former UFC fighter Anton Kuivanen (25-10). Also, Tateki Matsuda (13-8) takes on fellow flyweight Toru Ogawa (9-6).
Pancrase 297 begins at 2:15am EST, and will be streaming exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
**Massive shout-out to IQWrestler on Twitter. Show him and his highlight videos some love.