Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN will wrap up the year on Thursday night with their New Year’s Eve event, RIZIN 26. The large lineup from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, features a rematch between RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura and former champ Kyoji Horiguchi.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates.
Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (LIVENow / RIZIN PPV)
Bout 15: Kai Asakura (16-2) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) (RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)
Horiguchi Earns First-Round Stoppage Over Asakura To Start Second RIZIN Bantamweight Title Reign
Kyoji Horiguchi avenged a loss and became the RIZIN Bantamweight Champion again on Thursday, stopping Kai Asakura in the main event of RIZIN 26. The fight saw Horiguchi score a first-round stoppage victory with punches in his return from injury.
After avoiding a flying knee attempt, Horiguchi landed three right hands that hurt Asakura and knocked him down in the first round. A referee intervened to end the fight as Asakura went to the ground.
Thursday’s main event was Horiguchi’s first since a torn ACL and damaged meniscus forced him out of action in 2019. Horiguchi relinquished his RIZIN and Bellator belts during his injury time.
The win for Horiguchi was also an answer back to one of his three losses as a pro.
Asakura defeated Horiguchi in their first meeting, stopping him with punches in a non-championship fight in 2019. A rematch between them was cancelled after Horiguchi announced his injuries.
Asakura became the new champion with the absence of Horiguchi, defeating Hiromasa Ougikbuo back in August. Before then, Asakura lost a title shot to Manel Kape, who vacated the belt after moving to the UFC.
Prior to his loss to Asakura in 2019, Horiguchi had a 13-fight win streak that included two wins over former Bellator Bantamweight Champion Darrion Caldwell.
Bout 14: Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit (125 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Nasukawa Wraps Up 2020 With Fourth Win of the Year
Tenshin Nasukawa won a unanimous decision over Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit in the co-main event, getting the scorecard win after three dominant rounds.
Nasukawa was able to put together numerous combinations throughout the fight that helped him dominate the action. Nasukawa rocked Phetjaroenvit in the third round with a left hand.
The RIZIN broadcast put emphasis on the presence of K-1 Japan Champion Takeru’s presence at the fight, often cutting to camera shots of him watching at ringside.
Despite a fight between Nasukawa and Takeru thought of as a superfight, Nasukawa did not call him out after the fight. However, he did acknowledge him and thank him for attending.
The win for Nasukawa was his fourth of the year. Along with two wins in RISE Kickboxing, Nasukawa had a victory against Kouzi on RIZIN’s September card.
Bout 13: Mikuru Asakura (13-2) vs. Satoshi Yamasu (11-5) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Asakura Bounces Back From Championship Loss, Stops Yamasu With Head Kick
Mikuru Asakura returned to the win column on Thursday, catching Satoshi Yamasu with a combination of strikes to win in the first round.
After hurting Yamasu with a left cross, Asakura connected with a head kick that floored him, causing the referee to stop the fight. The finish saw the pace of the fight speed up quickly, as previous minutes in the bout operated at a significantly slower speed.
The win for Asakura came after a championship fight at RIZIN’s previous event.
Asakura lost a title shot in November, not being favoured in a decision against Yutaka Saito to become the inaugural RIZIN Featherweight Champion. Asakura was on an eight-fight win streak prior to the loss.
Yamasu entered the fight following a loss as well. Yamasu dropped his DEEP Featherweight Championship in September to Juntaro Ushiku, ending his one-year stint with the regional belt.
Bout 12: Takanori Gomi vs. Kouzi (RIZIN Special Standing Bout)
Gomi Takes Decision Win Against Kouzi In ‘Special Standing Bout’
Takanori Gomi defeated kickboxer Kouzi in a special ruleset bout on Thursday, giving the former Pride FC fighter a win in his first fight since 2018.
Both Gomi and Kouzi had numerous exchanges where they would throw and connect with wailing hooks on each other. Gomi took a majority decision victory after three rounds.
The exhibition fight was punches only, except backfists were allowed as well. The fighters wore boxing gloves, were barefoot and fought three-minute rounds.
Gomi showed appreciation for Kouzi after the fight, allowing him to speak during his post-fight interview time.
There was a significant difference in size between the two fighters, as Kouzi tipped the scales at 143-pounds and Gomi weighed 172-pounds.
Prior to Thursday, Gomi had been out of action since 2018. His last fight saw him defeat Melvin Guillard at RIZIN 11. The win snapped a six-fight win streak that included fights in RIZIN and the UFC.
Kouzi, a former K-1 Japan kickboxer, made his RIZIN debut earlier in the year with a loss to Tenshin Nasukawa.
Bout 11: Ayaka Hamasaki (20-3) vs. Miyuu Yamamoto (6-4) (Vacant RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship)
Hamasaki Stops Yamamoto With Leg Scissor Choke To Regain RIZIN Super Atomweight Belt
Ayaka Hamasaki submitted Miyuu Yamamoto with a rare leg scissor choke in the first round to begin her second reign as the RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion.
Hamasaki got the submission on the ground shortly after Yamamoto scored a takedown. Hamasaki had a hold of Yamamoto’s right arm on the ground, using the arm to move into a position where she could put in the leg scissor choke, causing a tap.
Hamasaki regained the belt in the fight after losing it at RIZIN’s 2019 New Year’s Eve event to Seo Hee Ham.
The RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship was vacated earlier in the year, as former champ Ham relinquished it.
Hamasaki’s first championship reign started in 2018, where he defeated Kanna Asakura. She defended the belt once in 2019, defeating now-UFC fighter Jinh Yu Frey.
Hamasaki won one fight since her New Year’s Eve 2019 loss, defeating Tomo Maesawa at RIZIN 22.
Yamamoto’s previous fight was a year ago, where she won a decision over AMP The Rocket. She won five of her previous six fights, with the loss being to the former champ, Ham.
Bout 10: Yuki Motoya (26-8) vs. Naoki Inoue (14-2) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Inoue Submits Motoya With Rear Naked Choke, Earns Third RIZIN Win
Naoki Inoue earned his third-straight RIZIN victory on Thursday, submitting Yuki Motoya in the first round with a rear naked choke.
The finish came shortly after Motoya scored with a takedown. Adapting quickly from being taken down, Inoue took Motoya’s back and put in the choke for the win.
Inoue, a former UFC fighter, picked up wins against Trent Girdham and Shooto Watanabe earlier in his first year with RIZIN.
Motoya entered the fight on a three-fight win streak. Motoya defeated Uoi Fullswing on a RIZIN card in August, with his other two fights in the streak coming from wins in regional promotion DEEP Impact.
Bout 9: Kyle Aguon (13-9) vs. Kleber Koike (25-5-1) (148 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Former KSW Champ Koike Wins RIZIN Debut, Chokes Aguon Out
Former KSW Champion Kleber Koike won his RIZIN debut on Thursday, choking Kyle Aguon unconscious in the first round with a darce choke. Koike’s submission came right after he knocked Aguon down with a right hook.
The fight was Koike’s first in over a year. His previous win was over Akiyo Nishiura on ONE Championship’s “Japan Series” card in 2019. Koike held the KSW Featherweight Championship during his stint with the promotion a few years back.
Aguon lost his RIZIN debut earlier in the year, dropping a decision to Vugar Kyaramov in February. He is now on a three-fight losing streak, including a title shot loss in Pancrase.
Bout 8: Kyohei Hagiwara (2-3) vs. Ren Hiramoto (0-0) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hagiwara Stops Hiramoto With Ground and Pound, Hands Kickboxer Loss In MMA Debut
Kyohei Hagiwara landed a high volume of ground and pound that caused former K-1 Kickboxer Ren Hiramoto’s corner to stop their fight on Thursday. The loss for Hiramoto was his debut in MMA following a career in kickboxing.
Hagiwara unloaded punches from full mount in second round until Hiramoto’s corner surrendered the bout. The finish came after consistent takedowns and damage on the ground from Hagiwara throughout the fight.
Hiramoto struggled greatly in the first round, being taken down constantly by Hagiwara. Hagiwara did damage on the ground, landing elbows, punches and knees to the head.
Both being charismatic characters, Hagiwara and Hiramoto had heated trash talk leading up to the fight and even afterwards. Hagiwara said he felt “like a bully” following his win.
Hiramoto’s cross into MMA came after 16 fights in kickboxing. His last kickboxing fight was a year ago, where he defeated Takahiro Ashida in his first bout since leaving K-1 Japan.
Hagiwara capped off his successful 2020 with the win. Earlier in the year, Hagiwara picked up two wins with a loss in-between them. He previously competed a month ago, stopping Pancrase veteran Yojiro Uchimura in only 22 seconds.
Bout 7: Hideo Tokoro (34-30-2) vs. Shinobu Ota (0-0) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Tokoro Wins In Return To RIZIN, Submits Olympic Silver Medalist
Former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Shinobu Ota lost his MMA debut on Thursday, getting submitted by veteran Hideo Tokoro with an armbar in the second round.
Often looking for submissions while on his back, Tokoro attempted numerous moves before catching Ota with an armbar. He had attempted armbars earlier in the fight as well.
Ota entered the fight with a resume in high-level Greco-Roman wrestling.
Ota’s biggest accomplishment in Greco-Roman wrestling was a silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He last competed in 2019, where he earned a gold medal at the 2019 Greco-Roman world championships.
The fight was Tokoro’s return to RIZIN after a few years absent from the promotion. The veteran, which is best known for his fights in K-1 and DREAM, fought in the early days of RIZIN, notably against Kyoji Horiguchi and Kron Gracie.
Bout 6: Yoshinari Nadaka vs. Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit (110 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Nadaka Scores Three Knockdowns To Stop Phetjaroenvit Within A Round
Yoshinari Nadaka put on another strong showing in RIZIN on Thursday, defeating Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit within a round with three knockdowns.
Nadaka capitalized on the bout’s special rules which allowed elbows, dropping Phetjaroenvit for two knockdowns with them. His third and final knockdown came in the final minute, where he landed two punches and a kick which floored Phetjaroenvit.
Nadaka had an impressive RIZIN debut earlier in the year, stopping Yuushin in the second round of action back in August. He has fought once since then, defeating Hidetora Abe in a Muay Thai bought on a BOM card.
Bout 5: Ulka Sasaki (22-8-2) vs. Kenta Takizawa (11-6) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sasaki Wins In Return To Action, Defeats Takizawa on Scorecards
Ulka Sasaki won in his return to action on Thursday, earning a decision against Kenta Takizawa. The fight saw Sasaki’s first in over a year after dealing with a jaw injury.
Sasaki showed his skills on the ground throughout the fight, often looking for submissions or landing punches while controlling positions.
Takizawa scored a takedown in the first round, although Sasaki left the position after looking for a submission. Sasaki finished the round strong, taking Takizawa down and landing punches until the round ran out of time.
Sasaki kept Takizawa down for most of the second round after scoring a takedown.
Takizawa’s best moments were on the feet, where he was able to sometimes connect with shots that would stun Sasaki.
Takizawa had Sasaki in trouble late, as he was able to attempt a neck crank while on his back. Sasaki was able to escape the position and control the fight on the ground afterwards.
Sasaki’s jaw injury came during a fight against Kai Asakura back in 2019. The fight was stopped early after Sasaki’s injury was noticed.
Takizawa won his RIZIN debut earlier in the year, defeating Yuto Hokamura in a split decision. He lost a fight in November, losing a decision to Hiromasa Ougikubo.
Bout 4: Kanna Asakura (17-4) vs. AI (5-0) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Asakura Continues Win Streak, Hands AI First Loss In Unanimous Decision
Kanna Asakura had a close fight with AI on the main card, taking a unanimous decision victory after three rounds. A large portion of the fight revolved around both super atomweights looking for takedowns.
Asakura was able to hold off takedown attempts from AI and put together sharp punches in the first round.
A large portion of the second round saw AI pursue takedowns. Asakura was often stuck in positions against the ropes while AI attempted takedowns.
The final round had the most action. While AI opened the round with a takedown, Asakura was able to score two afterwards and finish the round strong with ground and pound punches.
AI entered the fight undefeated, including three wins in RIZIN shows. Her previous fight before Thursday was a split decision win over Andy Nguyen in December of 2019.
The win was Asakura’s fourth consecutive. Her previous fight was a win in August over Mizuki Furuse.
Bout 3: Shibatar vs. HIROYA (Custom Exhibition)
Youtuber Shibatar Fights Former K-1 Kickboxer HIROYA In Exhibition
Famous Japanese Youtuber Shibatar faced surprise opponent and former K-1 kickboxer HIROYA in an exhibition bout on Thursday. While the fight was ruled a draw at first, later in the card it was ruled as a submission win for Shibatar as HIROYA tapped to an armbar attempt.
Competing in MMA gloves, the fight was one round of kickboxing and one round of MMA. Both rounds were three minutes each. Shibatar’s opponent, along with the ruleset for his match, was not announced prior to the fight.
Shibatar was able to score a knockdown in the kickboxing round. He looked for an armbar in the MMA round, although HIROYA was able to escape it.
The bout was HIROYA’s first since RIZIN 19 in 2019, where he lost a bout to Takuma Konishi. It was his first time competing with MMA gloves.
Shibatar is best known for his Youtube channel, which has garnered over 1,100,000 subscribers.
Bout 2: Taiyo Nakahara (15-8) vs. Kazuma Kuramoto (7-1) (139 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Kuramoto Stops Nakahara Early With Aggressive Ground and Pound
Kazuma Kuramoto had a quick and explosive victory over Taiyo Nakahara early in the show to earn his first RIZIN victory. The win for Kuramoto saw him capitalize on a knockdown, staying aggressive afterwards and pursuing a finish on a grounded Nakahara.
Kuramoto landed a right hand early in the fight that knocked Nakahara down. While Nakahara was on his way down, Kuramoto connected with a knee to the head.
After landing numerous punches on the ground, Kuramoto stood up and scored a soccer kick to the head that caused Nakahara to shell up.
Kuramoto was given his first loss as a pro earlier in the year, as he lost a Shooto Japan title fight to Ryo Okada. Before then, Kuramoto put together seven-straight wins on the regional scene.
The fight was Nakahara’s since 2017. His previous fight was a win over RIZIN alum Je Hoon Moon in South Korean promotion Road FC.
Bout 1: Minowaman (65-43-8) vs. Tsuyoshi Sudario (1-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sudario Earns Second MMA Win, Stops Minowaman Within A Round With Leg Kicks
Former sumo wrestler Tsuyoshi Sudario earned his second win as a pro to start the main card, stopping JMMA legend Minowaman in the first round with leg kicks.
Minowaman was dropped by a leg kick late in the first round. A kick knocked him down after previous kicks connected clean and wobbled him.
Sudario landed two hammerfist strikes to a grounded Minowaman that caused the referee to stop the fight.
The fight was Sudario’s second since making the transition from sumo.
Sudario won his MMA debut earlier in the year, defeating pro wrestler Dylan James via doctor stoppage after a dominant round of ground and pound.
The fight was Minowaman’s first RIZIN appearance. With over 100 fights on his record, some of Minowaman’s most notable wins were over opponents that were much larger than him. Thursday’s fight was much like that, as the weight differential between the two was roughly 70 pounds.
Opening Match: Sakura (3-1) vs. Eru Takebayashi (0-0) (112 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sakura Submits Takebayashi With Armbar, Although Fight Ruled No-Contest Due To Weigh-In Complications
Sakura stopped Eru Takebayashi in the first round of action with an armbar in the opening bout, although due to missing weight the day before, the fight was ruled a no contest.
Sakura’s performance, albeit not one that will count as a win on her record, was a quick and strong one that showed her skills on the ground.
Sakura looked for a rear naked choke before submitting Takebayashi in the second minute of action with an armbar.
Sakura missed weight for the fight, coming in 1.7kg (3.7 lbs) over the limit on Thursday. Because of this, there were numerous restrictions put on her fight. Sakura started the fight with a “red card,” meaning she received a 50% deduction on scorecards for what she did. Also, a finish victory for Sakura would mean the fight would end in a no contest.
On top of restrictions to the fight, Sakura was deducted 50% of her fight purse.
Sakura entered the fight after a successful year as a rookie, earning three wins and one loss in DEEP Jewels.
The fight was Takebayashi’s pro debut. She won two amateur fights earlier in the year under DEEP Jewels.