RIZIN 25 Preview

In their final event before their annual New Year’s Eve festivities, RIZIN will look to crown their first featherweight champion on Saturday. Mikuru Asakura and Yutaka Saito will fight for the inaugural belt in the main event of RIZIN 25 from the Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan.

Here’s a preview of the card.

Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (RIZIN PPV)

Bout 1: Yuma Yamaguchi vs. Shohei Asahara (139 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

RISE kickboxers Yuma Yamaguchi and Shohei Asahara will kick off the 10-fight card. Yamaguchi has lost his last two fights, being stopped by Kosei Yamada and Naoki Tanaka at RISE shows. Asahara lost a fight in August to Hideki Sasaki, being stopped in the third round.

The fight will be the first RIZIN bout for both kickboxers.

Bout 2: Jin Mandokoro vs. Syuto Sato (117 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

It will be a RISE versus Shoot Boxing pairing in the second bout when Jin Mandokoro fights Syuto Sato. Mandokoro took a loss in his last bout, losing a decision to Kazuki Osaki in July. Before then, Mandokoro had two-straight wins.

Mandokoro has appeared in RIZIN before, although his appearance dates back to 2017 where he defeated Issei Ishii via decision.

Sato has lost his last two Shoot Boxing bouts. He appeared on the RIZIN 12 card in 2018, losing a decision to Shota Takiya.

Bout 3: Kotetsu Boku (26-15-2) vs. Rikuto Shirakawa (8-8-1) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Veteran MMA fighter Kotetsu Boku will return for his second RIZIN bout, facing Rikuto Shirakawa in the third slot of the show. Boku, a 43-year-old fighter, has lost his last four bouts. Having previously fought in ONE Championship, Boku left for RIZIN in 2020. He lost his RIZIN debut in August, dropping a decision to Jin Aoi.

Shirakawa lost in his last RIZIN fight, being stopped late by Kyohei Hagiwara at RIZIN 22. He has since bounced back on the regional scene, defeating Yuki Ohara on a DEEP Impact card.

Bout 4: Hidenori Ebata vs. Isami Sano (183 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

The fourth bout of the evening will see Hidenori Ebata and Isami Sano fight in a kickboxing match. There is hardly any information on either fighter online apart from the fact that Ebata has a background in taekwondo. The fight will be held roughly at middleweight, a class which is hardly seen in RIZIN.

Bout 5: TAIGA vs. Yuma Yamahata (133 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Looking to snap what has now developed into a three-fight losing streak, TAIGA will fight Yuma Yamahata. TAIGA has been a frequent fighter in RIZIN recently, however, he has not found success in the promotion.

After losing both fights in a series against Taiju Shiratori in 2019, TAIGA returned in August with a loss to Kento Haraguchi, being stopped in the first round with strikes.

The fight on Saturday will be Yamahata’s first on a big stage. He has produced strong results on the regional scene, winning fights in NJKF and DEEP KICK.

Bout 6: Yojiro Uchimura (17-13-3) vs. Kyohei Hagiwara (1-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Kyohei Hagiwara will return to RIZIN on Saturday when matched against Yojiro Uchimura.

Hagiwara has fought twice in RIZIN in 2020, picking up a win and most recently a loss. He made his promotional debut in August, stopping Rikuto Shirakawa in the third round. A month later he lost within a round to Takahiro Ashida.

Uchimura will make his RIZIN debut with the fight. His long MMA career that dates back to 2005 includes fights in various regional Japanese promotions. He last competed in February, where he lost via decision to former UFC fighter Yoshinori Horie.

Bout 7: Tatsuki Saomoto (15-2) vs. Daichi Kitakata (20-9-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Before the seventh fight on the card, RIZIN will hold a grappling exhibition with Roberto Satoshi Souza, Kleber Koike, Hari Sakamoto and Misaki Akita. A similar exhibition was held at RIZIN 21, where Souza grappled with five different competitors.

The seventh fight of the evening will see Strawweight King of Pancrase Daichi Kitakata make his RIZIN debut against Tatsuki Saomoto. Kitakata earned his fifth-straight win in 2019, defeating Mitsuhisa Sunabe in the fifth round to claim a Pancrase belt.

He has since lost, as he dropped a fight to Yosuke Saruta in October of 2019 on a Pancrase versus Shooto card put on by ONE Championship. Like he did with that fight, Kitakata will be making the move up to flyweight for this fight.

Saomoto returns to RIZIN after an explosive win over Yusaku Nakamura in August. Previous wins in his career mostly came from fights in regional Japanese promotions.

Bout 8: Ryuichiro Sumimura (15-8) vs. Let’s Gota (14-9-1) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Welterweights Ryuichiro Sumimura and Gota Yamashita, also known as Let’s Gota, will be eighth in the lineup. Sumimura is the DEEP Impact Welterweight Champion currently. He last defended the belt in March, winning a decision against Yuta Watanabe.

Sumimura competed on a Bellator and RIZIN collaborative card in December, where he was caught in the first round with punches by Jon Tuck.

Gota, a former Welterweight King of Pancrase will make his RIZIN debut. He has recently been fighting on the regional scene in Japan, flipping between wins and losses with each fight.

Bout 9: Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-5-2) vs. Kenta Takizawa (11-5) (134 lbs)

Hiromasa Ougikubo will have his first fight since a title shot in the co-main event, fighting Kenta Takizawa. Ougikubo lost a title shot in his last outing, being stopped late in the first round by Kai Asakura in August. The loss concluded a three-fight run of wins which included two victories in RIZIN.

He now fights Takizawa, a former Bantamweight King of Pancrase who won his RIZIN debut in September via a split decision over Yuto Hokamura.

Bout 10: Mikuru Asakura (13-1) vs. Yutaka Saito (18-4-2) (Inaugural RIZIN Featherweight Championship)

RIZIN star Mikuru Asakura will headline the card on Saturday, fighting Yutaka Saito to become the first RIZIN Featherweight Champion. Asakura has had success inside and outside the ring recently, as he has become an online star through his Youtube channel, which currently has 1.62 million subscribers.

Asakura will be coming off of somewhat of a layoff in the fight, as his last bout was in February, where he defeated Daniel Salas with strikes. Asakura is on a strong eight-fight win streak which includes notable wins over John Macapa and Yusuke Yachi.

A championship win for Asakura undeniably would make him, along with his brother and current RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura, the faces of the promotion currently.

Saito made his RIZIN debut in August, where he stopped Kazumasa Majima in the second round with strikes. The win was his first on a big stage after a lengthy career on the regional scene, mainly competing in Shooto Japan.

Despite debuting only a year before Asakura did, Saito has more experience in competition, with more bouts and longer bouts that went to scorecards more frequently.

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