The path to crowning the inaugural DEEP Jewels Flyweight Champion will begin next month when the promotion kicks off an eight-woman bracket. The matchups for that opening round, which will happen on March 12th, were announced earlier this week.
Rin Nakai’s return to DEEP Jewels will come against Shoko Fujita in the opening round.
Nakai, a former UFC fighter and Pancrase veteran, will be competing for the first time since October 2019. She returns with a strong winning streak to maintain, having won her last six pro bouts.
A victory for Fujita would be an incredible upset. Fujita is coming off a rookie pro year that resulted in two wins and one loss. Her last appearance was in December, where she beat Yurina Horiguchi via unanimous decision.
Shizuka Sugiyama, the other favorite in the bracket along with Nakai, will start her tournament run against Mikiko Nirvana.
Sugiyama is a veteran of DEEP Jewels, having spent the majority of her career with the promotion. She celebrated her 20th pro win early last year, stopping Aoi Kuriyama at DEEP Impact’s 20th-anniversary show.
Nirvana bounced back from her sole pro loss in her last showing, defeating Kate Oyama in September. That moved her record to three wins and one loss.
Riding the momentum of her pro debut, Hanako Sawa will meet Aoi Kuriyama in the third quarter-final bout.
Sawa won her MMA debut just two months back, defeating Kano Kagaya on scorecards.
Kuriyama will attempt to snap a three-fight losing streak that she developed in 2021.
The fourth matchup is expected to see Te-a and Kano Kagaya battle. They’ll both be fighting to come back from their sole pro losses.
Along with the Grand Prix fights, five other matchups are expected to happen at DEEP Jewels 36. Here’s the entire lineup as it looks currently:
Bout 9: Rin Nakai (22-2-1) vs. Shoko Fujita (2-1) (DEEP Jewels Flyweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
Bout 8: Shizuka Sugiyama (20-6-1) vs. Mikiko Nirvana (3-1) (DEEP Jewels Flyweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
Bout 7: Hanako Sawa (1-0) vs. Aoi Kuriyama (2-4) (DEEP Jewels Flyweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
Bout 6: Kano Kagaya (2-1) vs. Te-a (2-1) (DEEP Jewels Flyweight Grand Prix Quarter-Finals)
Bout 5: Miki Motono (6-3) vs. Nisse (4-4) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Hikaru Aono (8-5) vs. Moeri Suda (4-2) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 3: Yuko Suzuki (10-8) vs. Manhoef (5-2-1) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 2: Mizuki Furuse (7-9) vs. Reina Kobayashi (1-1) (97 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 1: Rajina Bista vs. Saki Nakamura (119 lbs) (Amateur Kickboxing Bout)