Ryo Chonan will finish his career as the reigning Deep welterweight champion after registering a dramatic decision win over Dan Hornbuckle in Tokyo on Sunday. The 37-year-old has decided to draw the curtain on his 12-year career and the event in Korakuen Hall served as the grand finale.
Chonan controlled the first two rounds, consistently scoring with body kicks and launching an assault of stomps and soccer kicks at the end of the second. In the third round, he dived for a flying scissor heel hook, the same submission he famously caught Anderson Silva with at Pride in 2004.
It would have made for a fairy-tale ending to a career that included a four-fight stint in the UFC, but Hornbuckle defended intelligently and with two minutes left in the third and final round, Horbuckle found himself in side control.
Knowing that he was almost certainly behind on the scorecards, the Native American looked to finish the fight, attacking with ground and pound and mounting the Japanese veteran. Chonan gave up his back in an attempt to escape and Hornbuckle went all out for the rear naked choke.
It made for a thrilling finale, as the defending champion had one arm under Chonan’s chin and appeared to be close to locking in the submission, but he couldn’t find the finish. The hometown hero was able to hang on until the final bell.
The win leaves Chonan with a record of 22 -13 and means he finishes his career on a two fight winning streak, as well as wearing the Deep 170 lbs strap. Hornbuckle drops to 24-7 and will presumably be a leading contender for a belt which his opponent does not intend to ever defend.
In the co-main event of Deep: Tribe Tokyo, two veterans collided in the flyweight division. Yoshihiro Maeda controlled the opening two rounds by applying relentless pressure to Mamoru Yamaguchi with a wrestling based game plan.
Maeda shot for immediate takedowns in both rounds and even though Yamaguchi was able to delay being dragged to the ground, he couldn’t shake off the reigning Deep bantamweight champion who simply refused to let go once he got a grip on the seasoned flyweight with the trademark afro.
Going into the third, Yamaguchi looked to be down two rounds, but he rallied. When Maeda ended up on his back after an unsuccessful takedown, he capitalized ruthlessly, transitioning from a keylock attempt to attacking with punches and elbows.
Two of the judges were sufficiently impressed by Yamaguchi’s dominant final round to score the fight even, meaning that the decision was a majority draw, which takes his record to 26-8-4 while Maeda’s tally now stands at 30-13-5
UFC veteran and ONE FC title contender Yasuhiro Urushitani returned to action for the first time since scoring a debatable split decision win over Rey Docyogen in May. The 37-year-old was taking on up-and-coming Korean Jae Nam Yoo after his original Brazilian opponent was involved in a car crash.
The Korean was aggressive and put pressure on his Japanese opponent who was very elusive and managed to consistently land hard left kicks from his southpaw stance. The third round was the most one sided of the fight as Urushitani put Yoo on his back and went to work with submission attempts and ground and pound.
Yoo’s strong showing in the first two rounds made it a nervous wait for Urushitani as the scorecards were being tabulated, but he was awarded the unanimous decision win. The Japanese fighter improves to 21-6-6 with his second successive win since being released by the UFC, while the Korean drops to 2-3.
In welterweight action, Takenori Sato submitted late replacement Islam Galayev in the opening round, while Deep 170-pound champion Yuya Shirai and Akihiro Murayama fought to a draw in a non-title fight.
Kenjo Osawa beat Seiji Akao by split decision in a battle between two experienced bantamweights, while Deep light heavyweight champion Yoshiyuki Nakanishi also needed a split decision to get past Korean Young Choi in another non-title fight.