Japanese MMA promotion DEEP Jewels are planning to crown their first-ever flyweight champion, and they’re going to use a tournament to do so. The promotion recently unveiled an eight-woman flyweight grand prix that will kick off in March, including a mix of veterans and prospects.
The bracket is set to happen at DEEP Jewels 36, which will take place on March 12th at the New Pier Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
The biggest name in the lineup is former UFC fighter Rin Nakai, who will be making her return to action on the card. Nakai will be fighting for the first time since late 2019. She is coming back on a strong six-fight winning streak, including a 2016 victory over now-UFC fighter Kanako Murata.
Another experienced fighter in Shizuka Sugiyama is also set for the card. The former title challenger and RIZIN alum enter the bracket on a four-fight winning streak.
Sugiyama won’t be the only fighter representing Shinjuku-based gym “Me, We.” So will Shoko Fujita, who is joining the tourney after scoring her second pro win just last month.
Returning after her rookie year as a pro, Mikiko Nirvana will fight in the bracket. She was quite active for her first year as a pro, attaining three wins through four appearances between 2020 and 2021.
Former freestyle wrestling standout Hanako Sawa is joining the grand prix after winning her pro debut in December, defeating Kano Kagaya.
Aoi Kuriyama will fight to snap a three-fight skid in the opening round. She currently has a negative record of two wins and four losses. Much is made of the gym she trains at, “SMOKER GYM,” which also has RIZIN talent Kyohei Hagiwara at it.
The final member of the bracket is set to be AACC fighter Te-a. She’s returning after suffering her first pro loss last month, getting submitted by KING Reina.
DEEP Jewels held a tournament to start their calendar year in 2021 as well. They focused on the atomweight class that year, hosting a tournament that was won by Saori Oshima.