The first VTJ (Vale Tudo Japan) card of 2014 is set for Feb. 23. It features an eight-man flyweight tournament, which four of Japan’s top 125-pound fighters have already signed on for, as well as a lightweight clash between Naoyuki Kotani and Yoshihiro Koyama.
The four fighters confirmed so far for the 125-pound tournament are Hiromasa Ogikubo, Mamoru Yamaguchi, Ryuichi Miki, and Yoshiro Maeda with four more flyweights set to be added to complete the quarterfinal line-up.
Ogikubo (10-3-2) won the Shooto 132-pound belt after surprisingly submitting Koetsu Okazaki in a rematch, but was choked out by Kyoto Horiguchi in his first title defense. Maeda (30-13-5) is the most experienced of the four fighters booked for the tournament so far, he is a former Deep bantamweight champion, featherweight King of Pancrase, and WEC 135-pound title challenger.
Yamaguchi (26-8-4) drew with Maeda in his most recent outing and is a former Shooto 134-pound champion and King of the Cage 125-pound titleholder. He will be looking to get his career back on track after going winless in his last four fights.
Miki (15-6-4) won the Shooto 123 lbs title at the third time of asking recently, beating Yosuke Saruta in a rematch. He is undefeated in his last six bouts and is notable for his trilogy of fights with Yasuhiro Urushitani, who he drew with once and lost to twice.
The identity of the remaining four fighters in the tournament remains a mystery although there is some suggestion that VTJ will look to bring in four foreigners and match the all the local flyweights with non-Japanese opponents.
The card is set to be headlined by a lightweight clash between Kotani (32-10-7) and Koyama (17-6-2). The former is on a rich run of form having won his last 12 fights, becoming Zst 155-pound champion in the process while the latter is a former Shooto Pacific Rim 154-pound champion.
The other fight currently on the card, which will take place at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo sees featherweights Wataru Miki (20-11– 6) and Akiyo Nishiura (12-8-1) go head to head.
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