Laying Down Leather #3: Shock at MSG, RIZIN 16 and More!

Good morning and welcome to the latest article of Laying Down Leather, where I put down my thoughts related to many sports and arts covered on the site.

This week I covered Pancrase and RIZIN for the site. I didn’t get the chance to cover the Anthony Joshua versus Andy Ruiz Jr. fight, although I did witness and have some things to say about it. Let’s go through the topics for this week.


This weekend we saw the unpredictable, viral and shocking upset of Anthony Joshua losing to Andy Ruiz Jr. in New York. I didn’t expect that Joshua would lose, and even then, I wouldn’t predict he would lose in something that took so long. Ruiz now holds many of the top Heavyweight boxing championships. He’s one of the three pillars now, with Deontay Wilder (WBC Champion) and Tyson Fury (lineal champion) being the two others. I thought the whole event was great because it showed the unpredictability of boxing. On top of that, this thing went pretty viral. There’s tons of clips, tweets, memes and more that have surpassed the six figure digit of shares online that relate to this. And that’s not something that would happen if this fight went Joshua’s way. The last time I saw this sort of viral sharing from boxing was when Floyd Mayweather beat Tenshin Nasukawa or when Tyson Fury got up in the 12th round against Deontay Wilder.

Let me share my story relating to Anthony Joshua’s fight on Saturday. I was travelling home from work when the fight was happening. I was at the station when a friend texted me that the fight was in the third round. I wasn’t happy that I was missing the fight, but I thought it wasn’t worth the mobile data to watch. It wasn’t the only thing I wasn’t happy about, as I had to wait upwards of 25 minutes for the next bus home. But then I got another notification. It was Ariel Helwani saying “Andy Ruiz just dropped Anthony Joshua in the third round of their fight at MSG. This, seconds after Joshua dropped him. High drama at the Mecca.” Once I saw that, I knew I couldn’t miss out.

I threw caution, caution to pay data overage charges that is, to the wind, and tuned in. I saw the first knockdown and the second one. I started to pace around the bus station. All of the sudden, I didn’t care that a bus wasn’t coming. All that was on my mind was that a -1200 underdog was about to capture world titles. And he did. All of the sudden my thoughts on the way home turned from “what should I order on my pizza when I get home” to “what did I just witness?”


RIZIN 16 was a fun show to watch. It got tiring when a ton of the bouts went to decision, but I still had fun. My favourite bout was of Taiju Shiratori’s kickboxing clinic. My least favourite was Nakamura versus Topnoi Tiger, as it had so much potential but did not deliver. I enjoy these kickboxing oriented shows that RIZIN does every once in a while. If we’re talking purely favourite moments on the show, my two favourites would easily be Jake Heun’s Guardians of the Galaxy themed walkout and Uoi Fullswing’s last-minute victory.

The end of RIZIN has me wanting the trilogy fight between Seo Hee Ham and Ayaka Hamasaki. For the longest time I’ve wanted Seo Hee Ham to collaborate with RIZIN, as she is easily the biggest Atomweight fighter outside of the promotion. Since she was present at the show and incorporated in it’s presentation let’s hope she’ll be seen soon in the ring.

I thought the presentation of the upcoming bouts went well at RIZIN. Yusuke Yachi and Mikuru Asakura (but mostly Mikuru) did a great job hyping their fight. Mikuru’s personality is quite the entertaining one, saying after his Lightweight fight he is not going to be in the Lightweight GP, but instead wants a Featherweight GP and a Saitama Super Arena main event bout (credit to MikeLovesTacosX on Twitter for the translation).

This coming weekend should be a fun one. Equally explosive fighters Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo are finally colliding. Along with that fight is also huge match-ups in Valentina Shevchenko versus Jessica Eye and Tony Ferguson versus Donald Cerrone. Those three fights make it a pretty well put together card.

This Week on The Site and Beyond!

This week will be a very busy one for me. Due to many things, I’ll be busy essentially every evening until Friday. But with that being said, I’ll try to get out the usual Produce X 101 article, and I will try to cover UFC 238. I’ve made a hub for MMA articles on the site, with the link being If you’re interested in the MMA articles, give it a look.

Ayaka Hamasaki Retains RIZIN Atomweight Championship In Kobe

Ayaka Hamasaki retained her RIZIN Atomweight Championship in a three-round battle against Jinh Yu Frey on Sunday at RIZIN 16. The two fighters showcased their stand-up in the first and second rounds, with Hamasaki scoring a takedown early in the third and keeping it there for the whole round.

This was not the first time that Ayaka Hamasaki and Jinh Yu Frey have met, with their first meeting in 2016 at Invicta FC 19. While Hamasaki prevailed, it wasn’t in completely decisive fashion as it came via doctors stoppage due to a cut.

Road FC Atomweight Champion Seo Hee Ham was present for the event, delivering flowers to both fighters before the bout. “Hamderlei” recently defended her belt in December, defeating Jung Eun Park in Seoul, South Korea.

Hamasaki earned her Atomweight Championship on Near Year’s Eve at RIZIN 14, defeating Kanna Asakura with a second-round armbar. Before then she fought Mina Kurobe and Alyssa Garcia in RIZIN.

Full coverage of RIZIN 16 can be found here

Tenshin Nasukawa Becomes ISKA Featherweight Champion at RIZIN 16

Tenshin Nasukawa extended his kickboxing record to 31-0 on Sunday and got some gold around his waist. From World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Japan, it only took two rounds for Nasukawa to defeat Martin Blanco, gaining the ISKA Featherweight Championship.

The first round of the fight wasn’t that busy, with both fighters landing some shots but none really worth noting. In the second round, Nasukawa found success with landing knees to the body, which is what caused all three knockdowns in the round. The third time it connected was when the referee made the decision to end the contest.

Tenshin Nasukawa’s original opponent was Ahmed Ferradji, who was pulled from the event a few weeks ago. He put out a statement on Instagram recently stating that he “refused to do the fight because they had not respected the initial conditions that we (ISKA) had agreed upon.” He was the ISKA Featherweight Champion, with the Championship being stripped from him for this bout.

Tenshin Nasukawa is expected to fight on the 21st of July at the Rise World Series 2019 Semi-Finals, facing Suakim PK Saenchaimuaythaigym. He advanced to the second round of the tournament back in March, defeating Federico Roma in the third round with a cartwheel kick.

Full coverage of RIZIN 16 can be found here

RIZIN 16 Full Report: Nasukawa Becomes ISKA Featherweight Champion

RIZIN held “RIZIN.16” on Sunday, where they made their debut in Kobe, Japan. The event sold out, with the attendance being 8,107. The event had RIZIN banners on stage, but also banners from promotions they are partnered with. The banners this time were DEEP, Bellator Kickboxing, RISE, Bellator MMA and Shoot Boxing. Let’s look at the show and how it went down.

Bout 1: Tanaka Strike Yuki (21-7) vs. Yuya (22-11-3) (Kickboxing Rules) (3×3)

Before we got the formal intro for RIZIN, we had some preliminary bouts. The first one was a kickboxing bout between Tanaka Strike Yuki and Yuya. Yuya landed some good leg kicks in the first round. With one minute left in the first, Yuya dropped Yuki with a combo of punches. He got dropped a second time after a few more and a knee. Yuya put him down a third time to end the bout.

Bout 2: Kengo (11-9-2) vs. Seiki Ueyama (21-11-1) (Kickboxing Rules) (3×3)

In the second kickboxing bout, Kengo fought Seiki Ueyama. Ueyama had much more of a grander walkout when it came to outfit, the delay before making the walk, and a posse with one person carrying a belt. Kengo showed powerful fists from the start. Ueyama landed a right hook that dropped Kengo. When he got back up, both guys started landing real bombs. It looked like they were just testing each other’s chins. Kengo was given a standing ten count as he had trouble standing. Ueyama landed a few more shots before the ref stepped in for the final time.

Bout 3: Kan Nakamura (7-0) vs. Itto (19-12-3) (Kickboxing Rules) (3×3)

Before the next bout, RIZIN had their usual opening for a show. After that, we had yet another kickboxing bout. Kan Nakamura reeked of charisma, dancing as the fight started. Nakamura started to land with combination strikes at the end of the first round. He got a knockdown with 11 seconds left. A few times in the round he fell due to how he recklessly threw his kicks. After a few more strikes, Nakamura did a kick to the head that not only dropped Itto but completely ended the bout. Itto was out for a while after that. Nakamura got the win and protected his undefeated streak.

Bout 4: Namiki Kawahara (5-2-2) vs. Takaki Soya (9-4-1) (MMA Bout Elbows Allowed) (3×5)

The next match was the first MMA fight of the evening. It was a DEEP versus Shooto promotion battle. Soya landed a left hook that dropped Kawahara every early on. Soya threw punches and kicks on the ground but Kawahara recovered. After being on the ground for a minute, they stood back up. Soya sort-of landed a takedown, but they got back up right after. Soya did a double leg takedown which got Kawahara. Kawahara tried for a guillotine, and after Soya threw a knee they got back up. With under a minute left in the first round, Soya landed a right hook that absolutely took out Kawahara.

Bout 5: Taiju Shiratori (14-5-1) vs. Hiroto Yamaguchi (23-15) (Kickboxing Rules) (3×3)

The next bout was a kickboxing competition between Taiju Shiratori and Hiroto Yamaguchi. The first round wasn’t super aggressive from either fighter, but Shiratori was landing more. It’s worth noting that he has a height and reach advantage. The second round was closer although Shiratori kept landing a lot. He didn’t get it, but he tried for a rolling thunder kick at one point. There was a pause in the final round when both fighters collided heads. The final minute of the last round was great as both fighters were going all out. This became the first bout that went the distance, with Shiratori taking the victory by unanimous decision.

Bout 6: Tim Eschtruth (4-1) vs. Erson Yamamoto (2-4) (MMA Rules Elbows Allowed) (3×5)

The next MMA bout was Tim Eschtruth facing Erson Yamamoto. Eschtruth was mean muggin’ heading out to the ring, which made him look pretty cool. Yamamoto was pretty fired up when making his walkout. The first few minutes of the round had pretty evenly matched striking. In a standing clinch, Yamamoto did a elbow punch that dropped Eschtruth and did some more strikes before the referee ended the bout. He had quite the celebration afterwards, doing nearly every dance in the book. Someone from Yamamoto’s corner said he wants to fight in RIZIN afterwards.

Bout 7: Ryuji Horio (19-11-3) vs. Kunitaka (51-34-3) (Kickboxing Rules) (3×3)

A very experience Kunitaka faced Ryuji Horio in the next kickboxing bout. The first round was close with both fighter landing good strikes. Through the second round both guys were throwing and landing a lot, although it was hard to see who was getting the edge. Horio looked like the fresher fighter in the final round. The fight went the distance with both fighters putting on a good performance. Ryuji Horio was favoured on all three scorecards.

Bout 8: Kana Hyatt (16-19) vs. Uoi Fullswing (22-6-4) (MMA Rules) (3×5)

In the next MMA bout, Uoi Fullswing fought Kana Hyatt. Fullswing seemed like quite the personality, carrying a baseball bat out to the ring. This bout looks like a huge mismatch when you look at the records. Hyatt was seemingly on the defence for the first minute of striking. The fight went to the round, with Hyatt in top position. After not much happened on the ground, the referee stood them up. The final minutes of the round were somewhat uneventful, with the only highlight being that Hyatt fell either due to a slip or a strike in the final seconds. Hyatt landed a good takedown in the opening minute of the second round. They got back up after just under a minute. The rest of the round had some evenly matched stand-up. Hyatt got into top position on the ground again in the third round. In the final seconds of the third round, both fighters finally started to unload. Fullswing did four hooks in a row that dropped Hyatt, and then after a few more strikes on the ground the referee stopped it.

Fight Announcements

Before the next bout, a few matchups for the next RIZIN shows. The matchups were Hiromasa Ogikubo versus Yuki Motoya, Ulka Sasaki versus Shintaro Ishiwatari and Mikuru Asakura versus Yusuke Yachi. Nobuyuki Sakakibara talked about the upcoming events in the ring. He talked about how the Japanese fighters need to face each other to become the best. Some fighters were also in the ring, and got a short bit of mic time too. Mikuru Asakura and Yusuke Yachi both trash talked each other when they had the chance. Marcos Yoshio de Souza was also there, although he doesn’t have an opponent announced.

Bout 9: Tofiq Musayev (14-3) vs. Daron Cruickshank (21-11) (MMA Rules) (3×5)

Back from intermission, the next bout was Tofiq Musayev versus RIZIN veteran Daron Cruickshank. Musayev had a dominant performance on New Year’s Eve against Nobumitsu Tyson. The first three minutes of the bout showed good stand-up striking and defence from both fighters. Musayev seemed to unload more combinations of punches in the final two minutes of the first. At the start of the second round, Cruickshank landed a spinning back fist clean, but it didn’t shake Musayev. With two minutes left in the second round, both fighters were warned by the referee that they need to pick up the action. In the final minute of round two, Musayev caught a leg kick and turned it into a takedown. Musayev landed strikes from above until the round ended. He landed another takedown halfway through the third round. Cruickshank got out but was thrown back down right after. Cruickshank tried for a kimura from bottom position but couldn’t get it completely. With a minute left, Cruickshank tried for a triangle choke. The round ended, making the fight go to decision. All three judges gave it to Tofiq Musayev. That makes it two losses in a row for Cruickshank. The last time he was on a two fight losing streak was in 2016 & 2017, when he lost to Satoru Kitaoka and Yusuke Yachi.

Bout 10: Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai (6-2) vs. Yusaku Nakamura (15-6-1) (MMA Rules) (3×5)

Both trying to bounce back from losses, Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai and Yusaku Nakamura faced off in the next bout. Tiger did his usual dancing walkout. Both guys were taunting before and during the fight. Topnoi landed some punches in the second minute that had Nakamura retreating. Topnoi was given a warning for grabbing ropes when both fighters were in clinch for a moment. They weren’t that active when doing stand-up fighting. There was a break in the first minute of the second where Topnoi has kicked in the groin. After Nakamura landed a good right hook he got poked in the eye which cause yet another pause. Another groin shot happened when Nakamura was being held up against the ropes. After a couple minutes of a pause, and yet another warning, the fight continued. Topnoi landed two jabs right down the middle with two minutes left in the second round which made Nakamura backtrack around half of the ring. Nakamura landed a takedown in the final minute of the round. In the third round Nakamura landed another takedown, with both fighters getting up only seconds afterwards. Around the final minute of the fight, Topnoi landed some good strikes on a now very tired Nakamura. The commentary team said Nakamura lost a tooth. He landed a takedown, which they stayed in for a few seconds. The fight went the fifteen minutes, with the judges all giving the win to Nakamura. Topnoi was not a fan of this. After the fight it was shown that his front teeth were knocked out. The crowd gasped when they saw this.

Bout 11: Jake Heun (12-9) vs. Roque Martinez (14-5-2) (MMA Rules) (3×5)

The next fight was a Heavyweight clash between Jake Heun and Roque Martinez. Heun had an entertaining walkout, dressed as Starlord from Guardians of the Galaxy, dancing to “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone. Roque Martinez did his usual walkout to “Five More Hours” by Deorro and Chris Brown. Martinez wore wrestling shoes for this bout. Heun got a cut on his head within the first minute of the bout. Martinez also got a cut above his right eye. Heun threw tons of great punches and kicks in the first round. There was a pause in the second round where Martinez’s cuts were looked at. Luckily, this did not conclude the bout. Near the end of the round, Heun threw soccer kicks to Martinez, who was grounded. In the final round Martinez picked up Heun and slammed him hard. Heun started to bleed heavily in this round. Heun tried for a heel hook but didn’t fully get it. Martinez took top position and landed strikes until the round concluded. The commentary team were told that Martinez broke a hand in the first round. The judges had it in a split decision, with the third judge giving it to Jake Heun.

Bout 12: Miyuu Yamamoto (4-3) vs. Kanna Asakura (14-3) (MMA Rules) (3×5)

After a second intermission, we had our two women’s MMA fights of the evening. The first one was Miyuu Yamamoto versus Kanna Asakura. This was Asakura’s first fight in RIZIN since she lost to Ayaka Hamasaki on New Year’s Eve, losing her Championship in the process. Yamamoto went for a takedown in the first minute, utilizing her wrestling skills. Asakura was able to get back up, but was held in a corner and was hit with punches. The referee broke them up eventually. Asakura tried for a takedown of her own, and after some reversals, she ended up in top position. They stood up and exchanged blows in clinch. Asakura tried for another takedown but Miyuu successfully defended it. In the second round, Yamamoto defended yet another takedown attempt. When another takedown was shot by Asakura, Yamamoto took full control of it on the ground. She landed punches while holding onto Asakura from behind. Asakura did do a good throw in the final seconds of the round. At the start of the third round, Yamamoto turned a takedown attempt from Asakura into a guillotine attempt. Asakura escaped, but was hit with some punches from above. They stood up and went back to stand-up. Later on, Asakura tried for a triangle choke. The fight went the distance, with it being a great grappling competition with strikes integrated into it. As the scorecards were being read, Asakura started to cover her face with her hat. She was clearly disappointed. Miyuu Yamamoto unanimously was given the win.

Bout 13: Jinh Yu Frey (8-3) vs. Ayaka Hamasaki (17-2) (RIZIN Atomweight Championship) (3×5)

The next bout was the first of two championship bouts. This isn’t the first time that Jinh Yu Frey and Ayaka Hamasaki have faced off, with their first meeting being in Invicta FC. Hamasaki got the upper hand that time, but it ended due to a doctor’s stoppage, not giving a real decisive winner. Frey walked out to the Pride FC theme. Seo Hee Ham gave flowers to both fighters before the bout. Hamasaki landed a good right hook in the first minute of the bout. The whole first round was a great display of stand-up skills from both fighters. At the end of the second round, Frey landed a left hook that landed clean and had Hamasaki retreat. Hamasaki landed the first takedown of the fight at the start of the third. Hamasaki stayed on top for the whole round, landing elbows and punches until the round ended. The third round was easily the most one-sided one. Ayaka Hamasaki got the victory unanimously and retained her Atomweight Championship. The often stoic Hamasaki became very emotional in the post-fight interview.

Tenshin Nasukawa (30-0) vs. Martin Blanco (8-1-1) (Kickboxing Rules) (ISKA Featherweight Championship) (5×5)

Finally, the main event of RIZIN 16 was Tenshin Nasukawa challenging for the ISKA Featherweight Championship against Martin Blanco, the Bantamweight Champion. Before the fight, the Japanese and Argentine anthems played. This fight was scheduled for five rounds. The first round was somewhat slow. Nasukawa started to really light up in the second round. A cut started to appear of Blanco’s right eye. There was a pause after the first minute of the second round for Blanco to get the cut checked on. When they resumed Blanco landed a right hook that shook Nasukawa a little. Nasukawa landed a knee to the body which dropped Blanco. When he got back up, Nasukawa did another knee to the body which took him down. When he did a third knee which dropped Blanco, the referee finally ended it. Tenshin Nasukawa was crowned the ISKA Featherweight Champion after this victory.

RIZIN’s next event will take place on July 28th at Saitama Super Arena. Until then, RIZIN talent will be seen on shows around the world. RENA will face Lindsey VanZandt, and Kyoji Horiguchi will face Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222 in two weeks. RIZIN alumni Nanaka Kawamura and Rin Nakai will fight at DEEP JEWELS 24 next Sunday as well. One unique feature about RIZIN is how their performers are not usually exclusive to the promotion, so there’s always shows that have recognizable talent on.