RIZIN 20 Live Coverage

The tradition of New Year’s Eve MMA continues this year, with RIZIN presenting “RIZIN 20.”  The show includes numerous championship fights, and the final two rounds of a grand prix. In the main event, Kai Asakura and Manel Kape battle to become the second RIZIN Bantamweight Champion.

Follow the live blog throughout the night for updates of the happenings at Saitama Super Arena.

RIZIN 20 starts at 1:00 AM EST, being broadcasted internationally on FITE.TV.

Quick Results:

Bout 1: Tofiq Musayev def. Johnny Case via TKO (RD 1)

Bout 2: Patricky Pitbull def. Luiz Gustavo via TKO (RD 1)

Bout 3: Miyuu Yamamoto def. AMP The Rocket via Unanimous Decision

Bout 4: Taiju Shiratori def. Taiga via Doctor’s Stoppage (Cut) (RD 2)

Bout 5: Patrick Mix def. Yuki Motoya via Submission (Guillotine Choke) (RD 1)

Bout 6: Jake Heun def. Satoshi Ishii via TKO (RD 1)

Bout 7: Hiromasa Ogikubo def. Shintaro Ishiwatari via Split Decision

Bout 8: Simon Biyong def. Vitaly Shemetov via TKO (Tap Out) (RD 2)

Bout 9: Jiri Prochazka def. C.B. Dollaway via KO (RD 1)

Bout 10: Tofiq Musayev def. Patricky Pitbull via Unanimous Decision

Bout 11: RENA def. Lindsey VanZandt via Corner Stoppage (RD 3)

Bout 12: Mikuru Asakura def. John Macapa via Unanimous Decision

Bout 13: Seo Hee Ham def. Ayaka Hamasaki via Split Decision

Bout 14: Tenshin Nasukawa def. Rui Ebata via TKO (RD 1)

Bout 15: Manel Kape def. Kai Asakura via TKO (RD 2)

Bout 1: Johnny Case (27-6-1) vs. Tofiq Musayev (16-3) (Lightweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

The broadcast of RIZIN 20 started with their usual ceremonies. They played a video package that started by showing the struggles of many fighters in the promotion this year. They then introduced all of the fighters in the main fights. After that, everyone was introduced by Lenne Hardt on-stage.

The first two fights on the card were the lightweight grand prix semi-finals. This first bout saw Johnny Case challenge Azerbaijan’s Tofiq Musayev. Both fighters were given flowers before their fight. Musayev was counter-striking early on in the first round. Case landed a good head kick in the second minute. Case was hurt by two hooks in the third minute. While retreating, Case landed a takedown on Musayev. They got back up, where Musayev hurt Case with more punches. Musayev dropped Case and then finished him with ground and pound to win the fight. Staying fresh for his next fight later in the night, Tofiq Musyaev won in a quick fight.

Bout 2: Patricky Pitbull (22-8) vs. Luiz Gustavo (10-1) (Lightweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

To find the opponent of Tofiq Musayev, Patricky Pitbull fought Luiz Gustavo in an all-Brazilian matchup. Pitbull came into this event representing Bellator. Gustavo refused to fist-bump Pitbull when they met in the middle of the ring before the fight. Pitbull dropped Gustavo with punches in the opening seconds. He kept on him with punches and connected with a soccer kick before the referee stepped in to end it. Similar to Tofiq Musayev’s performance, Patricky Pitbull moved on to the second round without taking any significant damage.

Bout 3: Miyuu Yamamoto (5-4) vs. AMP The Rocket (4-2) (108 lbs)

In the first of many women’s MMA fights of the evening, Krazy Bee’s “Queen Bee” Miyuu Yamamoto returns to fight Thailand prospect AMP The Rocket. Rocket landed a leg kick early on which connected well. Yamamoto landed a good elbow in the clinch. In another clinch, Yamamoto landed a takedown. Yamamoto landed some strikes from the top position. With a minute left in the round, the referee stood them up due to inactivity on the ground. Rocket kept connecting with the leg kicks.

Yamamoto got a takedown in the opening moments of the second round. She landed a few strikes on the ground before they got back up. Yamamoto got in the pocket and landed a combination of punches. Yamamoto got another takedown with over two minutes to go. Yamamoto was in control on the ground until the final moments of the fight.

In-between rounds, former RIZIN and Bellator Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi was shown in the crowd. Rocket landed a good teep kick early in the final round. Yamamoto got yet another takedown after a minute of the round. While holding one of Rocket’s arms in a crucifix, Yamamoto rained down punches. From side position, she landed knees to the head. Yamamoto went into full guard, continuing with periodic punches. They got up, but Yamamoto threw Rocket back down with a minute left in the fight. Yamamoto scored many knees to the body and head on the ground. She tried for an armbar as the time ran out in the second round. When going to the scorecards, Miyuu Yamamoto won via unanimous decision.

Bout 4: Taiju Shiratori vs. Taiga (137 lbs) (Kickboxing Rules)

The first kickboxing fight on the show saw a rematch between Taiju Shiratori and Taiga. Their first meeting was at RIZIN 19, where Shiratori won, although Taiga scored a late knockdown to make it a closer affair than people expected. Tenshin Nasukawa was sitting ringside in support of Shiratori. They traded leg kicks to start the first round. The round in general was a feeling out process, with not many punches connected. Shiratori got wobbled by a leg kick in the final minute of the round. Shiratori threw a combination of punches, which made Taiga tell him to throw some more.

Shiratori threw a good combination with punches and a knee to the body in the second round. He was stringing together combinations frequently. Shiratori landed two knees late in the round, including one in the clinch which cut Taiga above the left eyebrow. They traded hard hooks as the round ended. The doctor checked Taiga out in-between rounds and deemed him not able to continue. Despite getting another win on his record, Taiju Shiratori failed to get a satisfying win over Taiga yet again. After the fight, Shiratori asked for a promotion versus promotion show next year involving kickboxing promotions RIZIN, RISE and K-1.

Bout 5: Yuki Motoya (23-7) vs. Patrick Mix (12-0) (135 lbs)

The first Bellator versus RIZIN fight of the evening saw undefeated fighter Patrick Mix take the trip to Japan to face Yuki Motoya. Mix was very amped up before the fight. Mix tried for a takedown in the opening seconds of the fight. Motoya got back up moments later. Mix got another takedown. Mix put in a guillotine choke that had Motoya stuck. The referee eventually came in to stop the bout, giving Mix a quick win. Extending his undefeated record, Patrick Mix caught Yuki Motoya early.

Bout 6: Jake Heun (14-9) vs. Satoshi Ishii (22-10-1) (230 lbs)

The next fight saw light heavyweights Jake Heun and Satoshi Ishii face off. This was Ishii’s first fight since competing in the 2019 PFL season. Heun did a walkout to “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Ishii tried for a single-leg takedown in the first minute. He didn’t get it, but got a hold of Heun’s back. Heun did an impressive roll to get out of the hold. Heun went back to coming forward with punches. Heun landed a clean uppercut which snapped Ishii’s head back. Ishii got clipped and dropped by punches. The referee stopped the fight on the ground. With a dominant performance, Jake Heun continued to rise his stock in RIZIN. After the fight, he called for a championship fight.

Bout 7: Shintaro Ishiwatari (26-7-4) vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (19-4-2) (135 lbs)

Before the intermission, Invicta Strawweight Champion Kanako Murata came to the ring. She talked about winning the belt in Invicta earlier this year. After the break, we had a high-level bantamweight battle between Shintaro Ishiwatari and Hiromasa Ogikubo. Ogikubo caught a leg kick in the first minute, landing a punch before scoring a takedown. While his head was being held by Ishiwatari, Ogikubo landed some strikes in top position. They got up, with Ogikubo holding Ishiwatari up against the ropes. They eventually returned to stand-up striking. Ishiwatari scored a good jab. They had these moments where they would both trade wild swings. Throughout the round Ishiwatari was connecting well with his jabs. They were in an exchange as the bell went, forcing the referee to intervene.

The two fighters had another back-and-forth exchange of blows at the start of the second round. Ogibuko had a good two-punch combo halfway through the round. Ogikubo got a takedown with a minute and a half left in the round. They got up around 10 seconds after. Ishiwatari got hit with a shot in the final minute of the round that seemingly hurt him. Ogikubo didn’t really try to follow up on that. He tried for another takedown, although Ishiwatari kept it on the feet. Ogikubo landed good hooks as the round ended.

Ogikubo shot for another takedown as the third round started. While Ishiwatari was standing on his hands and had his legs held, Ogikubo threw a kick to the head. Unique use of the soccer kick rules. They got back up, with Ishiwatari getting a takedown and top position on the ground. They got back up with three minutes left in the round. Ogikubo was coming forward with punches. They were both swinging wildly. This continued for minutes somehow. The crowd was eating up the striking battle. Ishiwatari started to bleed from the nose. They were fighting from such a close distance. Ishiwatari got a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the round, although they got back up for the final 10 seconds of the round. The fight went the distance with the judges being needed to find a winner. While it was a split decision, it was Hiromasa Ogikubo who walked away with the win. Ishiwatari seemed heartbroken by this.

Bout 8: Vitaly Shemetov (23-10) vs. Simon Biyong (6-1) (205 lbs)

In the next fight, Vitaly Shemetov searched for his first RIZIN victory against the debuting Simon Biyong. Shemetov fell early in the fight from trying a flying knee. Shemetov had fast hands. Biyong caught Shemetov when he came in for a punch. He put Shemetov against the ropes, eventually getting a takedown. Shemetov tried for an armbar, with Biyong landing knees to the body while fighting it off. He eventually escaped it, taking Shemetov’s back. Shemetov turned to his back, with Biyong taking half guard in top position. He threw strikes from the position. A cut above Shemetov’s left eye began to bleed. Another cut was open on the right side of Shemetov’s forehead from a knee. Biyong picked up the pace of punches in the final seconds of the round.

Before the second round started, a doctor checked the cuts on Shemetov’s head. After the check-up, the fight resumed. Biyong caught Shemetov again in the first seconds of the round, getting another takedown. Finding success with it in the first round, Buyong returned to ground and pound immediately. Shemetov’s cuts got opened more. Biyong continued with strikes until Shemetov tapped out. Dominant in his RIZIN debut, Simon Biyong made a good case for being invited yet again in the future.

Bout 9: Jiri Prochazka (25-3-1) vs. CB Dollaway (17-9) (RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship)

The first championship fight of the evening saw Jiri Prochazka attempt to make the first defence of his RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship against former UFC fighter C.B. Dollaway. Worth noting that Dollaway was wearing shoes in this fight. Dollaway was throwing good leg kicks early on. Prochazka caught a kick in the second minute, trying for a takedown although they returned to striking quickly after. Dollaway was dropped by a left hook in the second minute that gave Prochazka the win. Dollaway was hit so hard that he bounced on the mat. Making the first defence of his RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship, Jiri Prochazka stopped C.B. Dollaway within a round.

Bout 10: Tofiq Musayev (17-3) vs. Patricky Pitbull (23-8) (Lightweight Grand Prix Grand Final)

In the final fight before the intermission, Tofiq Musayev and Patricky Pitbull returned to find the winner of the Lightweight Grand Prix. The first minute of the fight was pretty inactive. Pitbull connected with a right hand in the second minute. He got a jab too in a different exchange moments later. Pitbull landed many leg kicks throughout the rest of the round. Musayev had his own good combination of punches in the fourth minute. With a minute left in the fight, chaos ensued. Both fighters threw numerous punches, with Pitbull slipping at one point. Musayev tried for a takedown, but it was Pitbull who ended up on top on the ground. He did some ground and pound, also throwing a head kick as Musayev got up. Musayev got a takedown in the final seconds, doing some ground and pound, including one that went after the bell.

Musayev caught a leg kick at the start of the second round. He threw Pitbull to the ground, although he got up right after. They returned to striking. Pitbull landed a good right straight counter-punch. Musayev tried for a takedown, with Pitbull being thrown out of the ring while resisting takedown. Pitbull seemingly hurt his left shoulder in the process. Musayev’s corner was given a yellow card. The two fighters hugged then resumed competition. Musayev tried for another takedown, but Pitbull stopped it. Musayev got a takedown from catching another kick. He did strikes while on Pitbull’s back. Pitbull got back up, although Musayev kept on him. They went back to the ground where Musayev continued with the striking. They got up again in the final 10 seconds of the round, with Musayev throwing a good combination of punches.

In the first minute of the final round, both fighters traded hard punches. Musayev landed a good trip takedown. Pitbull dropped in the third minute of the fight after being hit with a clean combination of punches. Musayev took top position on the ground. They got back up with over a minute left in the fight. Musayev landed another group of fourth punches to a retreating Pitbull. Pitbull went into a body lock in the corner. Musayev landed a knee in the clinch. Pitbull did some foot stomps and a knee to the clinch before the round ended. The winner of the Lightweight Grand Prix was left to the judges to decide. Consulting the scorecards, all three judges picked Tofiq Musayev as the winner of the fight.

Before the next intermission, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara came to the ring to talk to the crowd. He emphasized that when they go live on Fuji TV they need good ratings.

Next, Kyoji Horiguchi came into the ring to speak. He apologized to those who bought tickets in anticipation of seeing him fight.

The broadcast went to an intermission before the final five fights of the evening.

Bout 11: Lindsey VanZandt (7-2) vs. RENA (9-3) (112 lbs)

Returning from the break, RENA fought Lindsey VanZandt in a rematch from Bellator 222. In their first meeting, RENA was put unconscious by a rear naked choke in the first round. RENA’s usual walkout theme was performed live by rap group Asia Engineer. VanZandt tried for a flying knee at the very start but didn’t land it. VanZandt got a takedown after a minute of stand-up. She threw strikes from top position. In the fourth minute of the fight, VanZandt connected with some good hammerfist strikes. She went into side control, where RENA flipped the situation and took top position. RENA landed knees and elbows to the head from side position. They returned to stand-up for the final 30 seconds of the first round. RENA landed a good right straight. VanZandt shot for another takedown but didn’t get it before the round ended.

RENA got some good punches in to open the second round. VanZandt tried for a takedown in the second minute, although didn’t get it. RENA landed a knee to the head while defending the takedown. VanZandt dropped to her back after RENA threw a combination of punches. She tried again for a takedown, failing to do so. RENA shot for a takedown, where VanZandt hopped on RENA’s back. She tried for an armbar. Now on her back, VanZandt put in a triangle choke. She landed elbows to the head while still holding the choke. RENA endured the choke until the round ended.

VanZandt shot for another takedown to start the third round. RENA was able to flatten out and avoid the takedown. She held VanZant to the ground and landed knees. VanZandt got on her back, letting RENA take side control on the ground. RENA transitioned into north-south, where VanZandt started to throw knees to the head. RENA tried for a kimura, pulling on VanZandt’s arm for a long time. VanZandt eventually escaped the hold, and they got back up. They went back down to the ground where RENA was in side control again. She flipped into north-south position and started to throw many hard punches to the body. They got back up with a minute and a half left in the round. RENA landed some punches, then VanZandt went back onto the ground. RENA was in top position with a minute to go. She threw a flurry of punches from above. RENA kept on going with the punches until VanZandt’s corner gave up. In an emotional win for RENA, she avenged her loss to Lindsey VanZandt from earlier this year. In an emotional post-fight interview, RENA mentioned that she recently lost a close friend.

Bout 12: Mikuru Asakura (11-1) vs. John Macapa (23-4-2) (145 lbs)

The first of the two Asakura brothers to step in the ring this evening was Mikuru Asakura. In another RIZIN versus Bellator fight, Asakura fought John Macapa. The first minute or so of the fight was slow, as both fighters were being cautious. Asakura threw a flying knee and two punches in the fourth minute of the round. Asakura caught a leg kick and possibly tried for a takedown with it, but Macapa escaped.

Asakura had a good two punches in the second round, getting close by faking a kick. He was catching lots of kicks throughout the fight. Macapa shot for a single leg takedown in the third minute of the round, although Asakura escaped the attempt quickly. In stand-up, they were both trading punches. Both fighters arguably got shook by certain strikes in this round. In the final minute of the round, Asakura landed a right hand which wobbled Macapa again.

Macapa caught a kick early on, going forward with punches as Asakura tripped. Macapa put on a body lock, trying for a takedown. He got Asakura to his knees, although that’s all he got before they stood back up. Asakura was landing more frequently with punches in this round. Macapa was coming forward and throwing lots, but it felt like Asakura was landing the more significant strikes. Macapa tried for another takedown, although Asakura couldn’t stay on the ground for long. Asakura landed a good knee to the head in the final minute. Macapa was smiling while starting down Asakura in the final seconds. They traded blows as the final round ran out of time. When going to the scorecards, all three judges gave the win to Mikuru Asakura.

Bout 13: Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) vs. Seo Hee Ham (22-8) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship)

The next fight saw Ayaka Hamasaki put her RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship on the line against Seo Hee Ham. This fight was arguably the battle to find the best atomweight fighter in the world. Hamasaki came forward with punches right off the bat. Ham tried to respond with punches, but Hamasaki was doing better at the start. The speed of the fight slowed down after the initial flurry. They went back to fast-paced punching a minute and a half into the fight. Both fighters ate the punches, never getting dropped or shook by them. Hamasaki’s jabs were consistently connecting. Both fighters had their moments in stand-up.

Ham’s face was showing more damage than Hamasaki heading into the second round. Hamasaki swept Ham in the first minute of the second round. Ham did upkicks to Hamasaki. In the bottom position, Ham tried for a triangle choke. Hamasaki went from standing to on her knees while still in the choke. Ham threw elbows from the bottom position. This continued for minutes. They slowly shifted outside of the ring, but were dragged back in eventually. The round ended in this position.

Ham landed a good left hand early in the final round. Hamasaki started to bleed from the nose. Hamasaki was backing up, getting hit by lots of punches. They went into a body lock up against the ropes. Hamasaki eventually landed a trip takedown with just over two minutes to go in the fight. Hamasaki threw lots of punches from top position. Ham eventually started to answer back with hammerfist strikes from the bottom position. They got up in the last few seconds in the fight. The fight went all 15 minutes, depending on the judges to decide who walks away with the belt. When finally going to the scorecards, there was a split decision. The third and deciding judge gave the fight to Seo Hee Ham, making her the new RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion.

Bout 14: Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Rui Ebata (Kickboxing Bout) (Special Rules)

The co-main event of the evening saw Tenshin Nasukawa face Rui Ebata in a kickboxing bout. Nasukawa was connecting more in the first round. A teep kick from Nasukawa kicked Ebata’s muthpeice out. A left hook dropped Ebata with a minute to go in the first round. He got his mouthguard put back in when he got back up. He continued to eat punches when the fight resumed. Nasukawa dropped him with more punches. Ebata got up and was able to continue the fight. They resumed with 30 seconds to go. He threw a spinning kick to start. Cornering Ebata, Nasukawa threw a punch and then threw down Ebata, making the referee stop the fight. Proving he is dangerous yet again, Tenshin Nasukawa disposed of Rui Ebata in under three minutes.

Bout 15: Kai Asakura (14-1) vs.Manel Kape (14-4) (RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)

 

Finally, in the main event of the evening, Kai Asakura and Manel Kape fought for the vacant RIZIN Bantamweight Championship. On his way to the ring, Kape hoisted the bantamweight belt which was displayed on the ramp. Kape was wearing shoes in this bout. Kape shot for a takedown after a minute of stand-up, although Asakura didn’t allow it. Asakura got tagged by a shot in the second minute. Kape was scoring more shots than Asakura. Kape did a good combination of a body kick and then a right hook in the fourth minute. Asakura had good punches in the final minute of the fight. Kape threw a combination then tried again for a takedown. He did not succeed. Kape landed a spinning back fist in the final seconds of the round.

Asakura got dropped by a punch early in the second round. Asakura recovered and got back to his feet but fell again moments later. Kape kept with ground and pound until the referee stepped in and ended it. Kape ran over to Kyoji Horiguchi immediately and kissed him on the head. In a surprising turn of events over the past few months, Manel Kape defeated Kai Asakura to become the RIZIN Bantamweight Champion.

RIZIN 20 Full Preview

The tradition of New Year’s Eve mixed-martial-arts will be continued on Tuesday, with RIZIN hosting RIZIN 20. The stacked card has the absence of the promotion’s biggest star, Kyoji Horiguchi, who is currently healing a torn ACL. He gave up his Bantamweight Championship, freeing it up to find a new champion on this card.

With a grand prix, three championship bouts and much more, there’s a lot of storylines to discuss heading into the evening at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The show will air via internet pay-per-view on FITE TV, with the broadcast starting at 1AM EST.

Bout 1: Johnny Case (27-6-1) vs. Tofiq Musaev (16-3) (Lightweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

The first two fights of the evening will be the semi-finals of the RIZIN Lightweight Grand Prix. The winners of those fights will fight again later on that card to find the winner. The first of two fights is between Johnny Case and Tofiq Musaev. Both fighters have a similar recent story, as they both debuted on RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve card last year. They have went undefeated since, wit a record of 3-0 in the past year. Case stopped Roberto de Souza with punches to pass the first round of the tournament. Musaev prevailed over Damien Brown via stoppage as well to move on.

Bout 2: Patricky Pitbull (22-8) vs. Luiz Gustavo (10-1) (Lightweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

The other half of the lightweight grand prix sees an all-Brazilian matchup. Bellator’s Patricky Pitbull will face Luiz Gustavo. Pitbull is riding a six-fight win streak, with many of those being in Bellator. His most recent win however, was a quick victory over Tatsuya Kawajiri. On that same card, Gustavo beat Hiroto Uesako to move on to the semi-finals. Gustavo entered RIZIN in 2018, stopping Yusuke Yachi with a brutal knockout. He then took his first loss as a pro to Mikuru Asakura at RIZIN 15.

Bout 3: Miyuu Yamamoto (5-4) vs. AMP The Rocket (4-2) (108 lbs)

The first women’s fight of the evening is between “Queen Bee” Miyuu Yamamoto and AMP The Rocket. Yamamoto is now a veteran of the RIZIN promotion, fighting with them since 2016. She is notably from the Krazy Bee gym, and is the sister of the late Kid Yamamoto. She most recently lost to Seo Hee Ham, being stopped in the second round with strikes. AMP The Rocket is a prospect coming out of DEEP Jewels. In the biggest challenge yet of her career, Rocket fell to Ayaka Hamasaki in the first round at RIZIN 18. Still young in her career, she has all of her wins (and losses) via stoppage.

Bout 4: Taiju Shiratori vs. Taiga (137 lbs) (Kickboxing Rules)

In the first of many rematches on this card, Taiju Shiratori will go up against Taiga in a kickboxing bout. Their first meeting came at RIZIN 19. Shiratori found himself in trouble late, being dropped by a perfectly timed overhand right. After their close meeting at the last event, they will run it back on this card.

Bout 5: Yuki Motoya (23-7) vs. Patrick Mix (12-0) (135 lbs)

In one of the many Bellator versus RIZIN fights this week, undefeated Patrick Mix will go up against Yuki Motoya. Mix has fought twice in Bellator, both first round wins via submission. Motoya is an experienced fighter from DEEP Impact. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak, recently getting a split decision loss to Hiromasa Ogikubo.

Bout 6: Jake Heun (14-9) vs. Satoshi Ishii (22-10-1) (230 lbs)

RIZIN’s Jake Heun will welcome back Satoshi Ishii in the next fight. Heun has become a frequent fighter in RIZIN, debuting at RIZIN 13, and fighting twice more since then. He recently stopped Vitaly Shemetov due to a cut at RIZIN 17. Ishii is fresh out of competing in the second season of the PFL. He finished with a 1-2 record, losing to Denis Goltsov in the quarter-finals of the light heavyweight division.

Bout 7: Shintaro Ishiwatari (26-7-4) vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (19-4-2) (135 lbs)

In the seventh fight of the evening, Shintaro Ishiwatari and Hiromasa Ogikubo compete in what will likely decide who’s next in line for a Bantamweight Championship shot. Ishiwatari lost to former champ Kyoji Horiguchi in 2017. He returned to action in mid 2019, taking out Ulka Sasaki with a second-round north-south choke. Ogikubo has also lost to Horiguchi in the past. This year he has won twice, more notably over Yuki Motoya at RIZIN 17.

Bout 8: Vitaly Shemetov (23-10) vs. Simon Biyong (6-1) (205 lbs)

After a cut made him lose in his RIZIN debut to Jake Heun, Vitaly Shemetov gets a second shot at Japanese stardom, this time against debuting Simon Biyong. Shemetov went viral ahead of his RIZIN 17 fight, clamouring for a fight in the promotion for months upon months. Biyong’s most notable win in his early career was a second round stoppage victory over Quinton Roussow at EFC Worldwide 82. EFC is recognized as the top MMA promotion in South Africa.

Bout 9: Jiri Prochazka (25-3-1) vs. CB Dollaway (17-9) (RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship)

In the first of three championship bouts of the evening, Jiri Prochazka will attempt to make his first defence of his RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship against former-UFC veteran C.B. Dollaway. Dollaway fought 20 times in the UFC, with his first fight in the promotion dating back to 2008. In the summer of 2019, Dollaway was flagged by USADA for a banned substance, suspending him until December of 2020. Prochazka first captured the Light Heavyweight Championship by defeating Bellator’s King Mo at RIZIN 15. He has since defeated Fabio Maldonado in a non-championship bout.

Further reading: From pig stem cells to Jiri Prochazka’s punches: C.B. Dollaway ready to go old-school in Rizin

Bout 10: RIZIN Lightweight Grand Prix Grand Final

Before the intermission, the grand final for the Lightweight Grand Prix will take place.

Bout 11: Lindsey VanZandt (7-2) vs. RENA (9-3) (112 lbs)

After the break, RIZIN will present their five final big matches. The first of the few is a rematch between Lindsey VanZandt and RENA. VanZandt first beat RENA in June, choking her out in the first round at Bellator 222. The fight was RENA’s debut outside of Japan. VanZandt has competed in Invicta FC and Bellator in the past. RENA bounced back from the loss at RIZIN 19, stopping Alexandra Alvare in 20 seconds. The fight is taking place at the catchweight of 112 pounds, a weight class that RENA has stayed at after falling ill trying to make the 105-pound weight limit at RIZIN 14.

Further reading: Lindsey VanZandt Interview: Unfamiliar Land, Familiar Foe

Bout 12: Mikuru Asakura (11-1) vs. John Macapa (23-4-2) (145 lbs)

The final Bellator versus RIZIN matchup of the night will be between Mikuru Asakura and John Macapa. Asakura has had a flawless past year, winning at RIZIN 15 and more notably RIZIN 17, where he main evented Saitama Super Arena. Asakura has had an eventful 2019 outside of the ring, becoming Youtube famous. Last month he garnered six-million views on his channel for a one-round grudge match against fellow MMA fighter and Youtuber Atsushi Saito. Macapa turned around a three-fight losing streak this year, beating Kevin Croom and more-recently Ashleigh Grimshaw

Bout 13: Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) vs. Seo Hee Ham (22-8) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship)

The next fight sees arguably the top two atomweights in the world square off. RIZIN’s champion, Ayaka Hamasaki, puts her belt on the line against Korea’s Seo Hee Ham. Hamasaki is the only RIZIN Champion that has defended her belt. Since winning it against Kanna Asakura at RIZIN 14, she has went on to beat Jinh Yu Frey in a rematch and AMP The Rocket. Ham made her RIZIN debut late this year at RIZIN 17, stopping DEEP Jewels Champion Tomo Maesawa in under a round. She then beat Miyuu Yamamoto in under two rounds at RIZIN 19, quickly solidifying her as the next in line for a title shot.

Further Reading: The Last, And Lightest Superfight of 2019

Bout 14: Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Rui Ebata (Kickboxing Bout) (Special Rules)

The co-main event of the show will see RIZIN’s kickboxing ace Tenshin Nasukawa face Rui Ebata. Last New Year’s Eve, Nasukawa saw the biggest challenge of his career, facing Floyd Mayweather in a three-round exhibition boxing match. Three rounds weren’t needed however, as Mayweather scored three knockdowns in the first round before Nasukawa’s corner ended it. He has since returned to kickboxing, winning five fights this year, including a tournament in his home promotion RISE Kickboxing. Ebata is older and more experienced, with 41 wins as a pro. He has won 11 in a row, with the streak starting back in 2016. Many critics argue this is the first big challenge for Nasukawa in a while.

Bout 15: Kai Asakura (14-1) vs.Manel Kape (14-4) (RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)

The main event of RIZIN 20 is for the vacant RIZIN Bantamweight Championship. The fight will see Kai Asakura face Manel Kape in a rematch from 2018. Asakura was originally meant to face Kyoji Horiguchi on New Year’s Eve, although injury made Horiguchi withdraw. Asakura defeated Horiguchi in a huge upset at RIZIN 18, stopping him in just over a minute. He then went through Ulka Sasaki at RIZIN 19, breaking his jaw in the first minute of action. 

In their first matchup, Asakura won, albeit by a split decision. Kape has won three and lost one since then. All three of his wins were via stoppage. Kape trains out of the recognized gym AKA Thailand.

Asakura’s backstory is interesting, coming up with Mikuru Asakura in a troubled childhood. Both of the brothers first gained relevance by fighting in the promotion “The Outsider,” which attempted to take troubled people off of the streets. Similar to his brother, Asakura has also found recent Youtube fame, famous for dressing up as a stereotypical nerd despite his exceptional athletic ability.

Further Reading: Are RIZIN’s brutal brothers its next native stars?

News broke earlier this week that RIZIN’s first 2020 event will be RIZIN 21, at Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamatsu, Japan. The event will be the promotion’s debut in the area. It also breaks their pattern of schedule in past years which saw the promotion take a break for a few months after it’s New Year’s Eve show.

Two Bellator vs. RIZIN Fights Announced For RIZIN 20

Two Bellator versus RIZIN matchups were announced for RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve show on Thursday at a press conference. The announcement was one of the many at the event, including fights on the Bellator Japan card and Kyoji Horiguchi’s injury.

RIZIN’s Yuki Motoya will face Patrick Mix on the RIZIN 20 card in a bantamweight fight. Motoya recently lost to Hiromasa Ogiukubo at RIZIN 17 via decision. Mix is undefeated as a pro and has fought twice in Bellator since debuting earlier this year. Mix’s last seven wins have come via stoppage.

Also added to RIZIN 20 was Mikuru Asakura versus John Macapa. Asakura is currently on a six-fight tear, recently defeating Yusuke Yachi at RIZIN 17. Macapa snapped a 2018 three-fight losing streak earlier this year, defeating Kevin Croom then defeating Ashleigh Grimshaw two months ago.

Here’s how RIZIN 20 looks so far:

  1. Lightweight Grand Prix Grand Final
  2. Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) vs. Seo Hee Ham (22-8)
  3. Johnny Case (27-6-1) vs. Tofiq Musaev (16-3) (Lightweight GP Semi-Final)
  4. Patricky Pitbull (22-8) vs. Luiz Gustavo (10-1) (Lightweight GP Semi-Final)
  5. Yuki Motoya (23-7) vs. Patrick Mix (12-0)
  6. Mikuru Asakura (11-1) vs. John Macapa (23-4-2)

 

RIZIN 17 Live Coverage

Just as UFC 240 ended, over at Saitama Super Arena RIZIN 17 was kicking off. The large card featured three fights at the top of the card that aim to have Japan’s biggest fighters going up against each other. In the main event was Mikuru Asakura versus Yusuke Yachi. Let’s go through the debut card from RIZIN’s 2019 debut at Saitama Super Arena.

Bout 1: Daiki Watabe (22-23-2) vs. Hideki (15-5-2) (Kickboxing Rules) (148 lbs)

After the promotion’s usual epic intro, we had our first bout. The first bout of the evening was a kickboxing contest Daiki Watabe and Hideki. It was both fighter’s debuts within the promotion. This time around there is no banners hung up of RIZIN’s partnered promotions. Watabe comes from Tenshin Nasukawa’s gym TEAM TEPPEN. As a matter of fact, Tenshin was in his corner for this fight. After a few minutes of close fighting, Hideki let his hands go and landed enough to give Watabe a standing 10 count. After that, Hideki continued to pepper on punches, but Watabe survived the round. The second round was closer, with Watabe landing lots of low kicks. Hideki did have a good opening, where he backed Watabe into a corner and teed off. It felt like Hideki glided through this round, just defending what Watabe threw. Hideki showboated throughout the bout. It went the distance with the fight going to Hideki via majority decision.

Bout 2: KING Reina (11-2) vs. Stephanie Egger (3-1) (MMA Rules) (139 lbs)

In the next bout we had KING Reina versus Stephanie Egger. Reina had a very epic entrance, keeping a real serious face. Early on it was Egger who threw Reina on the ground and took her back. Reina got up and avoided a rear naked choke. Egger landed a trip takedown in the second round. Egger tried for the rear naked choke again but couldn’t get it fully in. In stand-up, Egger had a significant height and reach advantage. In the third round, Egger tried for a rear anked choke for the third time. She escaped once again, with both fighters going to their feet for the final minute. Reina started coming forward aggressively with punches, but Egger stopped it by clinching up. The crowd started chanting Reina’s name. The fight went the distance, with Reina dropping to the ground as the fight ended. All three judges gave the fight to Stephanie Egger.

Bout 3: Seo Hee Ham (20-8) vs. Tomo Maesawa (12-9) (MMA Rules) (108 lbs)

In the next bout, we had a champion versus champion bout, with DEEP Jewels champion Tomo Maesawa facing Road FC Champion Seo Hee Ham. It was made clear at RIZIN 16 that Seo Hee Ham wants to face Ayake Hamasaki later on. They had close striking for a few minutes. Maesawa was dropped by knees to the body then Hamderlei capitalized by landing knees while Maesawa was down in the corner. Referee Jason Herzog stepped in and ended the bout. She called out Miyuu Yamamoto after the bout, saying she wants that fight before a title shot. Yamamoto entered the ring and accepted the challenge and did a face off.

Bout 4: Jake Heun (13-9) vs. Vitaly Shemetov (23-9) (MMA Rules) (205 lbs)

In the next bout, viral sensation Vitaly Shemetov faced Jake Heun. Sadly I can’t tell you why, but the song that Shemetov walked out to got a big pop. Also, Shemetov himself got a pretty loud reaction for when he walked out. Coming out in all white, Heun did a creative walkout dancing to “Stayin Alive” by Bee Gees. Someone delivered flowers to each fighter before the bout and got a huge crowd pop. As the referee was giving instructions, Shemetov gave a heart to the camera. So, safe to say he looked comfortable. Early on it was obvious that both of these guys were throwing some real power. Heun went for a takedown halfway through the first round. Shemetov got up after getting hit with some elbows on the ground. Shemetov got a takedown with a minute left, but Heun quickly took control. In the second round there was a pause when Shemetov was hit in the groin. Heun had a great string of strikes in the corner but it was interrupted by yet another hit to the groin. Shemetov was on the ground for quite some time this time. He eventually was able to continue. Heun was given a yellow card. Heun landed a slam, taking the fight to the ground. Heun attempted a hammerlock but couldn’t get it. He landed punches as the second round concluded. Early in the third round Shemetov had a good combination of punches. Going back to where he was finding success, Heun landed yet another takedown. Shemetov was cut open badly with a cut on the ground from an elbow, ending the fight abruptly.

Bout 5: Roberto Satoshi Souza (8-0) vs. Mizuto Hirota (18-10-2) (MMA Rules) (157 lbs)

The next contest had undefeated BJJ fighter Roberto Satoshi Souza face JMMA veteran Mizuto Hirota. Souza got a vicious takedown in the first minute of the bout. From top position, Souza landed strikes to the side of the head. They stood up after a few minutes on the ground. Souza tried another takedown but it was blocked. Souza landed an overhead right which rocked Hirota. He did another which dropped him, and then landed a few more strikes to close out the fight.

Bout 6: Tatsuya Kawajiri (36-13-2) vs. Ali Abdulkhalikov (7-0) (157 lbs)

Undefeated fighter Ali Abdulkhalikov challenged experienced fighter Tatsuya Kawajiri. Seconds into the bout Kawajiri missed a takedown and was hit with a hook to the head because of it. Abdulkhalikov’s strikes were looking fast. Kawajiri ducked a spinning backfist and tried for a takedown but couldn’t get it. Abdulkhalikov reversed a takedown then went back to the feet. Kawajiri caught a leg and brought Abdulkhalikov to his knees, but never fully secured the takedown. Upon another attempt, Kawajiri finally got a takedown. Kawajiri tried for a kimura but couldn’t as the round concluded. In the second round, Kawajiri tried for the kimura once again. He tried for a guillotine as well, but Abdulkhalikov’s head popped out. Kawajiri tried for the kimura a third time in the final round. He couldn’t get it, but transitioned into top position and tried for a choke. Kawajiri did elbows and punches until the fight ran out of time. All three judges gave the bout to Tatsuya Kawajiri.

Bout 7: Satoru Kitaoka (42-19-9) vs. Johnny Case (25-6-1) (MMA Rules) (157 lbs)

It wasn’t shown on the English broadcast, but the mayor of Saitama spoke in the ring before the next bout. The final bout before intermission was Satoru Kitaoka versus Johnny Case. Like many 157 pound bouts tonight, winners will have a chance at being in RIZIN’s Lightweight GP. Kitaoka tried for a takedown in the first minute and was given elbows to the head for his troubles. He refused to let go of Case’s leg, but kept getting hit. Case got a trip takedown. Kitaoka tried to a leg lock. Case escaped and started to rain down strikes. Kawajiri survived the first round. Kawajiri had to be carried by his team to the corner, and was laying on the ground before they got there. In-between rounds, Kitaoka’s corner surrendered the bout. Kitaoka was carried away on a gurney. Case told the crowd to say a prayer for Kitaoka.

Bout 8: Hikaru Machida (35-17-3) vs. Taiga (19-9-1) (Kickboxing Rules) (137 lbs)

Coming back from intermission, RIZIN had their second and final kickboxing bout of the evening. Shoot Boxing fighter Hikaru Machida fought Taiga. Machida is known for making the motion of pulling out a sword before throwing his sunday punches. He made the motion once in the first round but didn’t land a punch. Both fighters had their moments in the first round. Throughout the fight it was Machida that was advancing. Taiga had a good flurry at the end of the second round.  Taiga landed a takedown in the final seconds of the bout, securing his victory. All three judges gave the fight to Taiga.

Bout 9: Ivan Shtyrkov (16-0-1) vs. Hoon Kim (10-15-2) (MMA Rules) (205 lbs)

In the second light heavyweight bout of the evening, Ivan Shtyrkov battled Hoon Kim. The difference in records between the two is quite drastic. They clinched early in the bout, but the referee separated them eventually. The fight went to the ground with Shtyrkov in top position. A standing clinch was broken yet again in the second round. Shtyrkov landed a takedown and landed very short strikes. He landed enough punches that the referee eventually stepped in and ended the bout. The crowd didn’t seem to interested in the bout by that point.

Bout 10: Yuki Motoya (23-6) vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (18-4-2) (MMA Rules) (134 lbs)

Before the next bout a promo aired for RIZIN 18, which will take place on August 18th. Kyoji Horiguchi was introduced. He had his RIZIN and Bellator belts with him. He talked about his bout with Kai Asakura which will happen at the next event. The next match was the first of three Japan versus Japan matchups. Also, it was a Shooto versus DEEP matchup, with Motoya representing Shooto and Ogikubo representing DEEP. Ogikubo landed a takedown in the first minute of the contest. Motoya tried to counter with a guillotine, although he let go of it eventually. They got back up after Ogikubo tried for a rear naked choke. He landed another takedown. Ogikubo landed more takedowns in the second. There was more stand-up in the second round compared to the first. The final round had a crazy fist fight from both fighters. It was ended when Ogikubo scored a takedown. They stood back up shortly after and continued their chaotic exchange. Motoya was connecting with the better punches. Ogikubo landed another takedown after looking like he was in trouble on the feet. Ogikubo tried for a headlock as the fight ended. While Ogikubo was good on the ground throughout, Motoya’s campaign in the third round was very effective. The judges had it as a split decision, with Hiromasa Ogikubo winning it.

Bout 11: Shintaro Ishiwatari (25-7-4) vs. Ulka Sasaki (22-6-2) (MMA Rules) (134 lbs)

The co-main event was Shintaro Ishiwatari versus Ulka Sasaki. Sasaki had quite a grand entrance, conducting numerous people before walking down to the ring in a cape. Aljamain Sterling cornered Sasaki for this bout. Sasaki tried for a flying knee the second the fight started. He did not land it. They clinched up against the ropes in the second minute, with the referee eventually growing impatient and breaking them up. When they went to the ground later in the round there was a collision of heads. Ishiwatari had top position on the ground. Sasaki did a good job at getting top position before the round concluded. In the first minute of the second round, Sasaki tried for a takedown. Both fighters early got out of the ring during the attempt. Ishiwatari landed a takedown after trying to stop one from Sasaki for a minute or so. Near the end of the second round, Sasaki was dropped by Ishiwatari. He landed knees to the head and then put in a north south choke which made Sasaki tap out.

Bout 12: Yusuke Yachi (20-8) vs. Mikuru Asakura (10-1) (MMA Rules) (154 lbs)

Finally, the main event of the evening was Yusuke Yachi facing Mikuru Asakura in a complete grudge match. In the first minute Yachi was dropped with a kick, although it could have been also considered a slip as he threw a kick at the same time. Asakura was throwing strong punches in the first round. At the start of the second round Yachi tried for a takedown but was blocked. Later on, Yachi had a better look at a takedown but Asakura avoided it with help from the ropes. Throughout the second, Asakura was warned for holding onto the ropes to resist takedowns. Even in the third round Yachi continued to struggle with his takedown attempts. Crowd got louder when the two minute announcement was said. Asakura scored a takedown with two minutes left. They stood back up with a minute left and started to swing. Asakura egged on Yachi to continue as the fight entered final 10 seconds. Asakura dropped Yachi and didn’t go to finish but instead showed off as the bell rang. All three judges gave Mikuru Asakura the nod.