DEEP Jewels 2021 Atomweight Grand Prix Preview

DEEP Jewels will kick off their road to a new atomweight champion on Sunday. Photo Credit: DEEP Jewels DEEP Jewels will kick off their road to a new atomweight champion on Sunday. Photo Credit: DEEP Jewels

The recent retirement of DEEP Jewels Atomweight Champion Tomo Maesawa has opened the door wide open for all-womens promotion in Japan to find a new 105-pounder to reign supreme. Instead of pairing two fighters together for the vacant belt, the promotion has decided to put together eight names for a grand prix that will crown a new champ in the end.

DEEP Jewels are scheduled to kick off their bracket on Sunday during “DEEP Jewels 32” at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Here’s a quick preview of the opening round of the bracket.

Hikaru Aono vs. Emi Sato

DEEP Jewels vet Hikaru Aono (6-4) has been paired with Emi Sato (4-5) for the opening round. Aono is one of the more experienced fighters in the basket, as she has spent her entire 10-fight career within the promotion.

Aono is no stranger to vying for a title. She was the opponent for Maesawa last year in the former champion’s retirement bout.

Expectations are low for Sato, as she entered the bracket as a short-notice replacement for Otoha Nagao. On top of that, Sato has one of the weaker records on the bracket on paper, boasting four wins and five losses as a pro.

Sato is currently on a three-fight losing streak in the promotion. She last fought RIZIN alum AMP The Rocket, who caught her with an armbar within a minute.

Aya Murakami vs. Sakura

Two rising fighters in Aya Murakami (1-0) and Sakura (3-1) will be pitted against one another in the opening round.

Sakura had her biggest performance yet in December, submitting Eru Takebayashi with an armbar at RIZIN 26. Unfortunately for Sakura, the fight was ruled as a no contest due to her missing weight for the fight.

Sakura’s three previous pro fights include two submission wins and a decision win against Otoha Nagao.

Murakami had a successful pro debut in the Fall, defeating Moeri Suda via decision after two rounds of action. The close bout saw Murakami control the fight with submission attempts.

Si Woo Park vs. NISSE

Park Si-woo (formatted as Si Woo Park in DEEP Jewels) (4-2) will be representing South Korea in the bracket, fighting NISSE, also known as Mizuki Oshiro (2-2).

Park has a chance to showcase her ability in this tournament. While she has picked up three wins at DEEP events, the victories have been spread out over the past three years. She earned her fourth consecutive win in December, defeating Saori Oshima on scorecards.

While Park represents Team MAD in Busan, the gym that hosts prestigious names like Ham Seo-hee or Kang Kyung-Ho, she has recently been seen in Japan training at gyms like Krazy Bee or Master Japan.

NISSE could pick up her first win in over a year in the opening round. While the 25-year-old has two stoppage wins, her last bout resulted in Saori Oshima submitting her within a round.

Saori Oshima vs. Emi Tomimatsu

The fourth and final bout in the bracket sees DEEP Jewels veteran Emi Tomimatsu (15-17) face Saori Oshima (3-2).

Tomimatsu has been one of the most consistent names in the history of DEEP Jewels. She has held a belt in the promotion before, as she defeated now-UFC fighter Mizuki Inoue back in 2014 to claim a 115-pound championship.

The experienced atomweight returns to DEEP Jewels on a three-fight skid. Her last bout was her first RIZIN appearance, where she fought to a unanimous decision loss against RENA in 2020.

Oshima enters the bracket after a hectic debut year as a pro. Oshima fought five times in 2020, competing for different promotions and even different weight classes. After fighting twice in Shooto Japan, Oshima took her talents to DEEP in July. She has since picked up two submission wins.

Oshima was handed a loss in December, as the aforementioned Park defeated her on scorecards at DEEP Jewels 31.

The start of an eight-woman bracket this week will provide the talent in DEEP Jewels to make a name for themselves. Some established names have the chance to redeem themselves in the bracket while others have a chance have the biggest moment of their career thus far.