RIZIN 23 Preview

In their second of two nights at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan, RIZIN will look for a new bantamweight champion when Kai Asakura faces Hiromasa Ougikubo. Here’s a preview of the nine-fight card set to go down on Monday.

Main Card (2:00AM EDT / 3:00PM JST) (RIZIN Live)

Bout 1: Shintaro Matsukura vs. Koji Mori (161 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Like the first night, RIZIN 23 will offer a fair portion of kickboxing along with their MMA bouts. Kicking off the show, MMA fighter Koji Mori will face RISE kickboxer Shintaro Matsukura. While Mori has fought in kickboxing before, the majority of his career thus far has been MMA bouts in the regional promotion ZST. Having fought professionally since 2010, Mori boasts a 20-fight record with 12 wins. Matsukura has competed in kickboxing for a few years in the Japanese promotion RISE. His last fight saw him bounce back from a loss, getting a decision win over Seigo Nishimura in February.

Bout 2: Yusaku Nakamura (16-7-1) vs. Tatsuki Saomoto (14-2) (128 lbs)

Making his RIZIN debut, Tatsuki Saomoto will be paired with Yusaku Nakamura. Saomoto has had a strong run on the regional scene, currently on a 10-fight winning streak. He faces Nakamura, a Shooto fighter who has been active in RIZIN for a couple of years. A two-fight winning streak for Nakamura was broken last December when he lost to Makoto Shinryu on a Bellator card.

Bout 3: Kaito vs. Daryl Lokoku (161 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Making his return to RIZIN, Shoot Boxer Kaito will face Daryl Lokoku on Monday. RIZIN viewers may remember Kaito from two summers ago, where the then-20-year-old put on strong performances over Yoshiya Uzatsuyo and Sho Ogawa.

He has since went back to Shoot Boxing where he has been successful. He looks to bounce back with this fight however, as his February fight over Pinphet Banchamek was a loss.

His opponent, Lokoku, has MMA experience, having fought in the regional scene of Japan since 2011. He lost his two 2019 fights, being stopped by Will Chope and Ryuta Sakurai via submission.

Bout 4: Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) vs. Makoto Shinryu (10-1-1) (130 lbs)

After a successful performance over Yusaku Nakamura in December, Makoto Shinryu has been invited back to RIZIN to face Seiichiro Ito. Shinryu’s career previous to his win in December was mostly in regional promotion DEEP Impact, where he earned eight wins through 10 fights. Ito’s last fight was in March of 2019, where he was stopped in the second round by now-UFC fighter Manel Kape.

Bout 5: Kotetsu Boku (26-14-2) vs. Jin Aoi (7-3-1) (146 lbs)

After a few years in Singapore-based MMA promotion ONE Championship, Kotetsu Boku will make his RIZIN debut against Jin Aoi. Boku’s first RIZIN appearance was in February, where he confronted Mikuru Asakura after his win over Daniel Salas.  Boku had an eight-fight run with ONE, ending with three consecutive losses. He faces the less experienced Aoi. Aoi, a Shooto fighter, snapped his three-fight losing streak in February when he stopped Yoshiteru Kubomura in the first round.

Bout 6: Kento Haraguchi vs. Taiga (134 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

A rematch from 2018 will be run back on RIZIN 23, as Kento Haraguchi will return to fight Taiga in a kickboxing match. Their first meeting was in the summer of 2018 where they went to a draw. Haraguchi has since returned to RISE, winning six of the seven bouts he’s competed in. Taiga has stayed in RIZIN, losing four of the five bouts he was put in since. In the second half of 2019, Taiga had a two-fight series with TEPPEN gym fighter Taiju Shiratori which produced two surprisingly close fights.

Bout 7: Yutaka Saito (17-4-2) vs. Kazumasa Majima (14-1) (146 lbs)

Successful regional fighters Yutaka Saito and Kazumasa Majima will make their RIZIN debuts on Monday. Saito has fought in Shooto since 2011, achieving 17 wins in his time there. His last fight was just under a year ago, defeating Hiroyuki Takaya in the second minute on a September card. Majima comes into this fight on an impressive 12-fight winning streak that was garnered on the regional scene.

Bout 8: Yuki Motoya (24-8) vs. Uoi Fullswing (22-8-5) (134 lbs)

RIZIN regular Yuki Motoya will welcome back Uoi Fullswing in the co-main event of the show. Fullswing’s last name is one that interprets his fighting style, as he is known to look for knockout victories in his fights. He did just that in his last RIZIN appearance, which was in June of 2019, stopping Kana Hyatt in the closing seconds of the fight with strikes. Unfortunately, he has lost twice in Shooto since the performance.

Fullswing has a tough challenge ahead of him in Motoya, as he has fought at a high level of MMA for a long time. Motoya’s 2019 run was a rough one, losing three fights in the year. In March of 2019, Motoya dropped his DEEP Bantamweight Championship to Victor Henry. After that, he lost fights in RIZIN to Hiromasa Ougikubo and Patrick Mix. Last March he got back into the win column, defeating Takafumi Otsuka on a DEEP Impact card.

Bout 9: Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-4-2) vs. Kai Asakura (14-2) (Vacant RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)

In the main event, Kai Asakura will get another shot at the RIZIN Bantamweight Championship when he faces Hiromasa Ougikubo. Asakura lost a title shot in December, being stopped by Manel Kape in the second round. The title has been freed up since, as Kape signed a contract with the UFC in early 2020.

Asakura has been put in the title picture since his explosive win in the summer of 2019, stopping then-champion Kyoji Horiguchi in the second minute with strikes. Due to it being a non-championship bout, the title did not change hands at that time. Instead, when Horiguchi vacated the belt due to injury, Asakura was given his fight against Kape.

Ougikubo’s last fight was essentially a title eliminator, as he took a split decision win over Shintaro Ishiwatari. The fight moved him to a three-fight winning streak. His last loss came in 2018, with that loss being against then-top bantamweight Horiguchi.

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