Korean featherweight prodigy Doo Ho Choi returns to the ring on Saturday night to face Japanese journeyman Shoji Maruyama in the main event of Deep – Cage Impact at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Choi (10-1) is known to have caught the eye of UFC talent scouts. The 22-year-old will be a strong favorite against Maruyama (12-8-1), but the Japanese fighter has scored his fair share of knockouts and will have taken note of how Tatsunao Nagakura’s punching power caused the Korean some problems at Deep – 61 Impact earlier this year.
Deep featherweight champion Kasunori Yokota was scheduled to face Choi in a title bout in February, but the challenger disappeared days before the show under mysterious circumstances that were never satisfactorily explained and the fight failed to materialize.
Both featherweights will be fighting on the same card for the second time since their bout was cancelled, but not against each other. Yokota (17-5-3) will be taking on another Korean opponent, whose record is unknown, but who reportedly come from a grappling background and goes by the name of Eun Kyum Kim.
Former Deep lightweight champion Katsunori Kikuno (19-5-2) is on the card, which will be held in a cage, taking on 42-year-old UFC veteran Jutaro Nakao (24-17-4), who made his professional MMA debut way back in 1996. A promising fighter at the opposite end of his career is also on the card as unbeaten lightweight Yuta Kaneko (6-0-1) takes on journeyman Hidehiko Hasegawa (19-18-6).
The general consensus seems to be that this will be Choi’s last fight with Deep before signing with the UFC. That would certainly explain the decision not to grant him a rescheduled shot at Yokota’s featherweight belt.