Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN Fighting Federation will look for their new bantamweight champion on August 10th, with contenders Hiromasa Ougikubo and Kai Asakura being booked in a main event bout.
The championship bout was one of the eight in total the promotion announced for their back-to-back RIZIN 22 and RIZIN 23 events at a press conference on Thursday. The two shows are set to take place at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan.
RIZIN 23’s main event will crown the new bantamweight champion in the promotion, as the former champion Manel Kape vacated his belt after signing with the UFC earlier this year. Kape is set to make his UFC debut at UFC 252 in mid-August.
Asakura lost in his last championship fight, being finished in the second round by Kape at RIZIN 20 on December 31st, 2019. Asakura’s most notable win comes against former RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi in August of 2019.
Ougikubo set himself up to be next in line for a title shot in December after defeated bantamweight contender Shintaro Ishiwatari. The split decision moved Ougikubo’s winning streak to three-in-a-row.
Other Bantamweight Bouts Booked For Double Header
In another bantamweight bout booked for RIZIN 23, Yuki Motoya will fight Shooto veteran Uoi Fullswing. Motoya broke a three-fight losing streak in March with a win over Takafumi Otsuka on a DEEP Impact show. Previously, Motoya had lost to Bellator fighter Patrick Mix at RIZIN 20.
With 35 fights under his belt, Fullswing has fought on the regional Japanese scene for a long time. He made his RIZIN debut in 2019, stopping Kana Hyatt on a June show.
Fighting at 130-pounds, Seiichiro Ito and Makoto Tanahashi will also meet on the card. Ito lost his RIZIN debut in 2019, falling to former champion Kape. Tanahashi is coming off of a decision win over Yusaku Nakamura on RIZIN’s collaborative card with American MMA promotion Bellator last December.
The sole bantamweight fight on RIZIN 22 sees Naoki Inoue and Shooto Watanabe battle. Inoue, a former UFC fighter, had a successful RIZIN debut last February, winning over Trent Girdham via decision.
Watanabe has fought in the regional Japanese MMA scene for a while, amassing a record of 20 wins, four losses and six draws. He has won his last seven fights.
Kanna Asakura Returns, Welcoming Mizuki Furuse
Prominent atomweight Kanna Asakura will return on the RIZIN 22 show against Mizuki Furuse. Asakura’s last fight was a win against Jayme Hinshaw in December on the Bellator Japan card. Asakura caught Hinshaw with a kimura in the third round to secure the win.
Furuse is a long-time fighter in regional women’s MMA promotion DEEP Jewels. While she has a nearly even record of seven wins and six losses, Furuse is riding a four-fight winning streak currently.
Yachi and Souza See RIZIN 22 Pairing
Longtime RIZIN fighter Yusuke Yachi will battle against Roberto Satoshi de Souza on the promotion’s August 9th event. Yachi snapped his three-fight losing streak in December, stopping Hiroto Uesako in the third round.
Souza’s last fight was a loss to Johnny Case in the first round of RIZIN’s Lightweight Grand Prix last October. Souza made an appearance at RIZIN 21, competing in a grappling exhibition against five opponents.
Featherweights Get First Shot
Both RIZIN shows will see Japanese featherweight prospects get their first taste of fighting in the promotion. On RIZIN 22, Tetsuya Seki and Yojiro Uchimura will fight on the card. Seki has won eight of his last nine fights, with the other being a draw. He will return after just less than a year of a layoff.
Uchimura will be coming off of a main event loss at Pancrase 312 last February to former UFC fighter Yoshinori Horie.
The fourth and final RIZIN 23 bout announced was between Yutaka Saito and Kazumasa Majima. Both featherweight fighters will compete in their first RIZIN bouts. Saito has competed in MMA since 2011, getting more than a dozen wins in regional promotion Shooto.
Majima will walk into his first RIZIN fight on a 12-fight winning streak including some fights in Shooto and Pancrase.
Promotion Looks To Crowdfunding For Support
The press conference also included a video message from 2019 RIZIN Lightweight Grand Prix Winner Tofiq Musayev.
News broke on RIZIN’s return on Tuesday, as the promotion held a press conference. They also announced that this event would be helped by crowdfunding online. The promotion’s crowdfunding project currently has 15 percent of its goal reached.
RIZIN’s August 9th event has the tagline of “Starting Over,” with the following event having a similar tagline of “Calling Over.” Here’s all eight of the fights announced.
RIZIN 22 – Starting Over – August 9th
Bout 1: Yusuke Yachi (21-9) vs. Roberto Satoshi Souza (9-1) (71 kg) (MMA Bout)
Bout 2: Kanna Asakura (16-4) vs. Mizuki Furuse (7-6) (49 kg) (MMA Bout)
Bout 3: Tetsuya Seki (12-6-1) vs. Yojiro Uchimura (17-13-3) (66 kg) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Naoki Inoue (13-2) vs. Shooto Watanabe (20-4-6) (61 kg) (MMA Bout)
RIZIN 23 – Calling Over – August 10th
Bout 1: Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Kai Asakura (RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)
Bout 2: Yuki Motoya vs. Uoi Fullswing (61 kg) (MMA Bout)
Bout 3: Yutaka Saito vs. Kazumasa Majima (66 kg) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Seiichiro Ito vs. Makoto Shinryu (59 kg) (MMA Bout)