Japanese flyweights have received attention for quite a long time because no such division existed in other countries, and the quick movement that is only provided by lighter weight fighters has charmed audiences recently.
We've regarded Shinichi Kojima, Yasuhiro Urushitani and Mamoru Yamaguchi as the "Top 3" flyweights in the local scene. No other Japanese fighters could threaten them, but now foreign flyweight divisions have grown and developed to become more challenging.
Shinichi Kojima lost to Jussier Formiga. Yasuhiro Urushitani entered the UFC with confidence and said that he would match up well against Demetrious Johnson, but he went winless in the UFC.
Urushitani also became upset when Mikihito Yamagami said that he wanted to compete in the UFC next year after Yamagami choked out Junji Ito, but after watching this year's VTJ 2nd when Yamagami won a decision against Mamoru (Urushitani's long rival), Urushitani became more interested in Yamagami and said that he was a good fighter.
As I watched DEEP 63 Impact, I was curious about how Yuki Motoya would fight. Compared to opponent Tatsumitsu Wada, who has already fought major names like Daiki Hata and Takafumi Otsuka in DEEP, people saw Motoya as untested against highter level opponents.
When I watched the fight, however, I was certainly impressed by Motoya's performance and his ability to use a variety of kicks and combinations against a better boxer. He lost a close decision, but when we think about his age (23), we can still expect him to be a solid prospect.
Tatsumitsu Wada is young (24), too, and he will have many challenges from veterans. Yoshiro Maeda, who beat Wada in August 2012, will drop to flyweight. As will leglock-oriented fighter Masakazu Imanari. With those moves, I feel that flyweight will become DEEP's most interesting division.
On October 20, at Ryo Chonan's retirement event "Tribe Tokyo Fight," Yoshiro Maeda debuts at flyweight against Mamoru Yamaguchi. Hideo Tokoro also makes his flyweight debut against Will Campuzano at VTJ 3rd at October 5.
Many veterans have chosen to move to flyweight in order to find new success, but younger talent has begun to rise up there as well. This makes for interesting matchups in Japan during the latter half of 2013.
Big thanks to Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for English editing.