Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN Fighting Federation will return on Saturday night with RIZIN 25 from the Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan.
In their final event before their annual New Year’s Eve card, the promotion will look for their first featherweight champ in a fight between Mikuru Asakura and Yutaka Saito.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (RIZIN PPV)
Bout 10: Mikuru Asakura (13-1) vs. Yutaka Saito (18-4-2) (Inaugural RIZIN Featherweight Championship)
Saito Defeats Asakura In Decision To Become First RIZIN Featherweight Champion
Yutaka Saito defeated Mikuru Asakura via unanimous decision in the main event of RIZIN 25 to become the first RIZIN Featherweight Champion.
The victory came after a close three-round fight where Saito scored numerous takedowns and kept up with Asakura on the feet.
Asakura had his best moment of the fight late, hurting Saito with punches. After dropping Saito with a left cross, Asakura traded punches with him and dropped him with strikes again.
Saito made his RIZIN debut in August, defeating Kazumasa Majima in the second round with strikes. Before his RIZIN debut, Saito had an extensive record in Shooto Japan.
Saito snapped the eight-fight win streak of Asakura’s which included notable victories over John Macapa and Yusuke Yachi.
Bout 9: Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-5-2) vs. Kenta Takizawa (11-5) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Ougikubo Wins Decision After Strong Closing Round
Hiromasa Ougikubo took a decision victory in the co-main event, defeating Pancrase fighter Kenta Takizawa via decision.
The biggest point in the fight for Ougikubo was the last round, where he scored a takedown after landing a head kick knockdown. He then controlled Takizawa on the ground for a few minutes.
Ougikubo lost a title fight in his previous appearance, being finished in the first round by Kai Asakura at RIZIN 23 with the promotion’s vacant bantamweight belt on the line. He had three-straight wins before the loss, two of which happened in RIZIN.
Takizawa, a Pancrase veteran, made his RIZIN debut in September with a split decision win against Yuto Hokamura.
Bout 8: Ryuichiro Sumimura (15-8) vs. Let’s Gota (14-9-1) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)
DEEP Champion Sumimura Wins Split Decision Against Gota
Ryuichiro Sumimura won his first fight under the RIZIN banner on Saturday, defeating Let’s Gota via split decision. The slow-paced fight saw Sumimura as the more active fighter with takedowns
Sumimura lost his RIZIN debut in December, being stopped by Jon Tuck on a collaborative card with Bellator. He returned to DEEP Impact in March, defending his welterweight belt against Yuta Watanabe.
The fight was the RIZIN debut for Gota, who was the Welterweight King of Pancrase in 2014.
Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestler Shinobu Ota To Make MMA Debut At RIZIN 26
Returning from the intermission, it was announced that Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Shinobu Ota will compete against Hideo Tokoro.
Ota competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, picking up a silver medal for Japan in the 59 kg weight class.
Tokoro is a veteran of MMA who has competed since the year 2000. His last RIZIN appearance was in 2017, where he lost to Kyoji Horiguchi.
Bout 7: Tatsuki Saomoto (15-2) vs. Daichi Kitakata (20-9-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Saomoto Picks Up Decision Win Against Pancrase Champ Kitakata
Tatsuki Saomoto picked up his second RIZIN victory on Saturday, defeating Daichi Kitakata after three rounds of action. Saomoto’s performance saw him score takedowns and have close exchanges on the feet with Kitakata.
While Saomoto scored the most takedowns in the fight, Kitakata was often able to take control when on the ground. Moments like the first round where Kitakata landed knees to the head or the third round where he looked for a guillotine choke saw him capitalize on being on his back.
Saomoto won his RIZIN debut in August, stopping Yusaku Nakamura in the first round with punches.
The fight was Kitakata’s RIZIN debut. The current Strawweight King of Pancrase moved up to flyweight for a second-straight fight.
Bout 6: Yojiro Uchimura (17-13-3) vs. Kyohei Hagiwara (1-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hagiwara Knocks Out Uchimura In Under A Minute
Kyohei Hagiwara had an explosive RIZIN debut, stopping Yojiro Uchimura in under a minute with strikes. Hagiwara floored Uchimura early with a right hook, causing the referee to intervene shortly after.
Hagiwara bounced back from a loss with the fight, as he lost to Takahiro Ashida the previous month via submission.
Uchimura entered his fight after an extensive career on the regional Japanese scene. His previous fight was a decision loss to former UFC fighter Yoshinori Horie on a Pancrase card.
Bout 5: TAIGA vs. Yuma Yamahata (133 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
TAIGA Ends Losing Streak With Decision Victory
TAIGA snapped a three-fight losing streak on Saturday, defeating Yuma Yamahata via decision after three rounds of kickboxing. The fight was TAIGA’s second win since 2017.
TAIGA’s punches was what lead him through the fight, often landing combinations that Yamahata didn’t have an answer for.
Yamahata entered the fight after a career in regional Japanese promotions NJKF and DEEP KICK. His fight on Saturday was his first on a larger stage.
Bout 4: Hidenori Ebata vs. Isami Sano (183 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Sano Lands Knockdown Late, Defeats Ebata Via Decision
Isami Sano spoiled the RIZIN debut of Hidenori Ebata, mounting a comeback and scoring a knockdown in the final round before winning via unanimous decision in a kickboxing bout.
Ebata’s long legs and large height advantage over Sano allowed him to land head and body kicks early in the fight that hurt Sano. Sano was able to stop eating the kicks and begin to catch and counter as the fight progressed.
Ebata became extremely tired in the third round, allowing Sano to close the range and land punches. Sano scored a knockdown halfway through the third round after landing a punch that hurt Ebata.
Ebata entered the fight with a background in taekwondo.
Bout 3: Kotetsu Boku (26-15-2) vs. Rikuto Shirakawa (8-8-1) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Shirakawa Earns Third-Round Stoppage Win, Hands Boku Fifth-Straight Loss
Rikuto Shirakawa closed out a previously close fight against Kotetsu Boku in the third round, knocking him down with punches and landing a soccer kick to the head before the referee intervened.
Shirakawa landed his first knockdown earlier in the round with punches as well. He held full guard on the ground afterwards until the referee stood them up.
Boku put up a close striking battle against Shirakawa for the first two rounds of action.
Boku, a 43-year-old fighter, is now on a five-fight losing streak.
Boku previously fought in ONE Championship, competing for them from 2012 to 2019. He left the promotion after losing three consecutive bouts.
Boku lost his RIZIN debut in August to Jin Aoi via decision.
Shirakawa lost his RIZIN debut in August, being stopped in the third round by Kyohei Hagiwara. He has since bounced back on the regional scene, defeating Yuki Ohara on a DEEP Impact card.
Bout 2: Jin Mandokoro vs. Syuto Sato (117 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Spinning Backfist Knockdown Gives Mandokoro Decision Win
RISE’s Jin Mandokoro had a strong RIZIN debut in the second fight, taking a unanimous decision over Shoot Boxing’s Syuto Sato. The high-paced fight saw Mandokoro pull away on scorecards in the second round by scoring a knockdown.
Mandokoro scored a knockdown in the second round, dropping Sato with a spinning backfist as part of a flurry of strikes that had him against the ropes.
While Mandokoro won the fight and scored a knockdown, Sato was connecting with a high volume of punches and even wobbled Mandokoro for a moment in the third round.
Mandokoro fought on a RISE card in July, losing to Kazuki Osaki by majority decision.
Sato entered the fight after two-straight losses in Shoot Boxing.
Bout 1: Yuma Yamaguchi vs. Shohei Asahara (139 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Asahara Stops Yamaguchi In The Final Minute
Shohei Asahara kicked the card off with a win, stopping Yuma Yamaguchi in the third round with two knockdowns.
Yamaguchi was dropped by a series of punches in the final minute of the fight. While he survived the knockdown, he consumed another series of punches to get floored again, causing the referee to end the fight.
While Yamaguchi was throwing a high volume of strikes, he consumed a large amount of what Asahara threw throughout. Yamaguchi was taking the most damage in the two rounds before the finish.
Asahara lost his previous bout, being stopped in August by Hideki Sasaki on a RISE card.
Yamaguchi had lost his two previous kickboxing bouts due to knockdowns.