RIZIN FF is officially back. The promotion announced via a July 9 press conference (Japan time) that their first two events in four months have been set.
August 9 and 10 will feature a back to back MMA doubleheader with RIZIN 22 and RIZIN 23. The events will be live from Yokohama, Japan’s Pia Arena MM. Due to the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 outbreak that put the world on pause in March, the events will only be open at 50 percent capacity to spectators.
Each card had four fights revealed at the Thursday presser. Most notably of the bunch was the vacant bantamweight title bout that will take place at RIZIN 23.
With former champion Manel Kape’s departure for the UFC, it now gives another opportunity to the man he defeated to earn it, Kai Asakura (14-2). Standing in the still blossoming star’s way will be the seasoned veteran, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 runner-up, Hiromasa Ogikubo (20-4-2).
“I am very happy to be able to fight,” Asakura shared at the presser, “I’ve learned so much from my last fight and I know that I’ve gotten better. I know I must win this fight for the future of RIZIN and the future of Japanese MMA. I am determined to win this belt.”
Both men last fought at RIZIN 20 which closed out 2019. Where Asakura would suffer defeat to Kape, Ogikubo would put on a late fight of the year contender opposite Shintaro Ishiwatari.
Taking home the split decision victory, Ogikubo would extend his current streak to three. Quietly, Ogikubo has managed to only lose to former bantamweight king, Kyoji Horiguchi, in the last 10 years outside of his participation on TUF.
“It has been a long journey but I feel that I have finally come to where I need to be,” said Ogikubo, “I will show everything I’ve got, and I will beat Kai Asakura. Asakura, let’s put on a good fight. I’m struggling with my YouTube account. It may be time to retreat. My plan was to have 30m000 subscribers in three days, but after four months, I’m still at 4000.”
Along with that exciting matchup, RIZIN 23 also gets another good one at bantamweight as Yuki Motoya (23-8) and Mamoru Uoi “Fullswing” (22-8-5) will clash.
Before that, however, RIZIN 22 provides great action as well. The must-see Yusuke Yachi (21-9) returns to try and hand BJJ specialist Roberto “Satoshi” Souza (9-1) the second loss of his career.
When it comes to true young superstars, atomweight’s Kanna Asakura (16-4) gets back in the ring. The 22-year old phenom made a successful debut appearance in Bellator her last time out when she submitted Jayme Hinshaw with a gruesome kimura in round three.
#RIZIN2019 Submission(s) of the Year:
— Mike Skytte (@MikeLovesTacosX) January 3, 2020
“This will be the first time I will be facing somebody younger and inexperienced than me,” Asakura said, “I would like to be a great obstacle to this up and coming talent and put on a good fight.”
Welcoming Asakura back to the ring after her in-cage affair will be the 19-year old Mizuki Furuse (7-6) who rides a four-fight winning streak.
“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to fight on such a big stage,” Furuse expressed, “I am sitting here with confidence that I can beat Kanna Asakura. I look forward to making myself a name and becoming recognized.”
While we await the finalizations of each card, they can be seen in their entirety below.
RIZIN 22 – Aug. 9
- Bantamweight – 135lbs: Naoki Inoue vs. Shooto Watanabe
- Featherweight – 145lbs: Tetsuya Seki vs. Yojiro Uchimura
- Super atomweight – 108lbs: Kanna Asakura vs. Mizuki Furuse
- Lightweight – 155lbs: Yusuke Yachi vs. Roberto Satoshi Souza
RIZIN 23 – Aug. 10
- Bantamweight: (C) – Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Kai Asakura
- Catchweight – 130lbs: Seiichirio Ito vs. Makoto Takahashi
- Bantamweight: Yuki Motoya vs. Mamoru Uoi “Fullswing”
- Featherweight: Yutaka Saito vs. Kazumasa Majima