After winning in the headliner of Funabashi Bom-Ba-Ye, DEEP featherweight champion Kazunori Yokota told the fans, "To promote Funabashi, I am going to continue fighting but only for about year or two though. I am going to quit before my body gets completely battered. I have kids too."
Yokota just turned 37.
After this win over Juri Ohara, he is now on a 11-fight win streak. And its not like he has been fighting chumps. He defeated legit challengers to defend DEEP title. On top of this, on last New Year's Eve, he shut down and ruined featherweight debut of ISAO, a 26-year old current King of Pancrase at 155 lbs. This win, basically sealed the argument of "who is the best Japanese featherweight that is not signed to UFC?" Yokota became the obvious answer for everyone.
But he didn't get any call from UFC.
Last week, Zuffa announced that the shooting of TUF Japan would begin this month in Vegas and Japan. Well, then, obviously, Yokota didn't get a call from TUF either. That's why he fought in this show.
For a professional MMA fighter like Yokota who basically has close to zero possibility of getting a chance in the major league of this sport, it must be quite difficult to maintain a motivation to go through rigorous training. If you can't get into UFC then that means you can never claim to be the best in the sport and also you would never gonna earn big bucks.
Sure, Yokota may have said, "To promote Funabashi", because he is a native there, however, this can't be the only reason he has decided go on fighting for couple more years.
Maybe, since Zuffa just announced this year's UFC Japan show to be on September, Yokota might still think he would get a call from UFC.
Saturday, May 9th, 2015
At Funabashi Auto, Chiba, Japan
The Main Event – DEEP Lightweight Bout 5 min / 2R
Kazunori Yokota (Japan / Freelance) vs Juri Ohara (Japan / KIBA Martial Arts)
Winner: 3R Kazunori Yokota by Decision (3-0)
4th Match – Flyweight Bout 5 min / 2R
Masato Kobayashi (Japan / Freelance) vs Takuya Maruoka (Japan / INFIGHT JAPAN)
b: 1R 3'39" by Masato Kobayashi by TKO (referee stoppage – g n p)
Michihito Abe (Japan / Kan-juku) vs Toshinori Tsunemura (Japan / Reversal Gym Shinjuku Me, We)
Winner: 2R Michihito Abe by Decision (0-2)
DEEP JEWELS Special Exhibition
Emi Tomimatsu (Japan / Paraestra Matsudo) vs Mei "V.V." Yamaguchi (Japan / RIKI GYM – Buto-kai)
Haruki Nakayama (Japan / GRABAKA) vs Shunya Nagatani (Japan / Wajiutsu Keishu-kai Funabashi Dojo)
Winner: 1R 2'02" Haruki Nakayama by Submission (armbar)
Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (www.boutreview.com)