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.
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.