This article is the play-by-play of RIZIN 26 to accompany the live coverage of the event being done on the site. The live coverage article includes extensive coverage of the event and can be viewed here.
Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (LIVENow / RIZIN PPV)
Opening Match: Sakura (3-1) vs. Eru Takebayashi (B) (0-0) (112 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Takebayashi clinched with Sakura after coming forward with a series of punches. Sakura took the back of Takebayashi, taking the fight to the ground after. Sakura moved into side control where she looked for an armbar. Before extending the arm of Takebayashi again, Sakura landed a couple hammerfist strikes. Takebayashi eventually tapped to the armbar, ending the fight. Because of missing weight on Wednesday, Sakura was given a no contest for her win.
Bout 1: Minowaman (65-43-8) vs. Tsuyoshi Sudario (1-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Minowaman was wearing wrestling shoes for the fight. Sudario landed a leg kick to start the fight. Minowaman seemingly limped a little after being hit by a leg kick. Minowaman shot for a takedown that Sudario stopped in the second minute. Another leg kick dropped Minowaman in the fourth minute. Sudario landed two hammerfist punches to Minowaman while he was on his back, causing the referee to stop the fight.
Bout 2: Taiyo Nakahara (15-8) vs. Kazuma Kuramoto (7-1) (139 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Kuramoto shot for a takedown early in the fight, although Nakahara was able to stop the attempt. Kuramoto came forward and put Nakahara against a corner of the ring a minute into the fight. They separated moments later. Kuramoto hurt Nakahara with a right hand in the second minute of action, knocking him down. Kuramoto landed a knee to the head while Nakahara was on his way down. Kuramoto landed punches from the back of Nakahara. Kuramoto stood up, then went back down to the ground where he connted with more punches. Kuramoto got to his feet again, where he landed a soccer kick that caused Nakahara to shell up, ending the fight.
Bout 3: Shibatar vs. HIROYA (Custom Exhibition)
Shibatar stood still for a moment to start the fight. Shibatar ran the ropes like a pro wrestler in the first minuyte. Shibatar was able to connect a right hand, then mocked HIROYA by dancing afterwards. HIROYA landed numerous leg kicks throughout the round. Shibatar missed a rolling thunder attempt halfway through the round. HIROYA landed a left hand in the second minute. Shibatar dramatically pretended to be wobbled by the strike after. Shibatar landed a right hand that dropped HIROYA late in the round.
HIROYA connected with punches early as Shibatar charged at him early in the fight. Shibatar pulled guard while clinching with HIROYA. Shibatar looked for an armbar on the ground, although HIROYA was able to turn out of it and take full guard on top. Shibatar attempted another armbar in the second minute of the round. HIROYA escaped the armbar immediately, getting to the feet after. Shibatar pulled guard in the final minute, although HIROYA was quick to return to the feet. HIROYA connected with a punch and head kick before the round expired. The fight was ruled a draw after two rounds.
Bout 4: Kanna Asakura (17-4) vs. AI (5-0) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Asakura landed a leg kick and a jab early in the fight. AI clinched with Asakura in the second minute of the round, although Asakura was quick to leave the position. AI shot for another takedown in the third minute of the fight, although Asakura was able to back up to the ropes to resist the attempt. They remained in the position until the referee separated them due to inactivity. Asakura was putting together solid punches on the feet. AI caught a leg in the final minute of the round, looking for a takedown after. AI scored with a few short punches while holding the leg of Asakura. They left the clinch just before the round concluded.
Asakura put AI against the ropes with a body lock in the second rounds. They separated shortly moments after. AI looked for a takedown halfway through the round. Holding her head and landing knees periodically, AI got Asakura down to a knee for a moment. Asakura was able to throw AI down to the ground from the position, although AI was quick to get back up to the feet in a clinch. AI had a body lock on Asakura against the ropes in the fourth minute of the round. They both landed strikes while in the position. AI got Asakura to her knees for a moment from the body lock before the fight went against the ropes again. The referee separated them with 20 seconds to go in the round.
AI charged forward and scored a takedown from a body lock to start the final round. AI took side control on the ground. Asakura worked up to her feet in the second minute of the round. Back in striking distance, Asakura was able to land some punches. AI was able to answer back with punches of her own halfway through the round. Asakura scored her own takedown in the third minute of the round, although AI was quick to get into a scramble on the ground. They returned to striking distance with just over a minute left. Asakura scored a double leg takedown late in the fight. She landed numerous punches to the head of AI before the round ran out of time. Needing judges to find a winner, Asakura was given the nod.
Bout 5: Ulka Sasaki (22-8-2) vs. Kenta Takizawa (11-6) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
The fight was fast-paced on the feet early. Sasaki connected with a few knees to the body during exchanges. Takizawa was able to land a takedown a minute into the fight. Sasaki looked for an armbar from his back, although Takizawa was able to escape. Sasaki moved into top position on the ground after attempting a submission. Takizawa escaped the position, getting up to his feet after. Sasaki scored a takedown in the third minute of the round. Sasaki moved into side control after holding half guard. Sasaki put together solid striking while in control on the ground. He kept with strikes until the round ran out of time.
Takizawa was throwing punches early in the second round that didn’t connect. Takizawa stopped a takedown in the second minute. Back on the feet, Takizawa scored with punches and a knee to the head. Sasaki scored a takedown, taking the back of Takizawa in the third minute of the round. Sasaki landed some punches to the side of Takizawa’s head. Takizawa was able to leave the position and take full guard on top just before the round ran out of time.
Sasaki looked for a single leg takedown in the third minute of the fight. He was able to get Takizawa down after some resistance. Takizawa looked for a neck crank while on his back. The submission attempt allowed him to flip the position on the ground for a moment. Sasaki took top control again after leaving the submission. Sasaki stayed on top until the round ran out of time. Going to the judges, Sasaki was given the unanimous decision win.
Bout 6: Yoshinari Nadaka vs. Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit (110 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Yoshinari caught a body kick to sweep Phetjaroenvit in the opening moments of the fight. Yoshinari put together a combination of strikes in the first minute, including an elbow in a clinch that dropped Phetjaroenvit for a knockdown. Nadaka scored with another elbow in a clinch in the second minute, sweeping Phetjaroenvit after. An elbow from Yoshinari dropped Phetjaroenvit again in the second minute. Phetjaroenvit was bleeding at this point. Yoshinari landed two punches and a kick that dropped Phetjaroenvit again, ending the fight.
Bout 7: Hideo Tokoro (34-30-2) vs. Shinobu Ota (0-0) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Tokoro landed a right hook that knocked Ota down for a moment. Ota was quick to get up to his feet. Ota shot for a takedown a minute into the fight. Tokoro seemingly pulled guard, laying on his back without Ota going down with him. Ota took Tokoro down again in the second minute. Ota was hit with an upkick while standing up. The fight returned to the feet with three minutes left in the round. Tokoro stopped another takedown attempt in the third minute. Ota took the fight down in the third minute. Tokoro looked for an armbar while on his back. Ota slammed Tokoro to break the submission. Tokoro looked for a kneebar and an armbar while on his back. Ota slammed Tokoro again while one of his arms was tied up. The fighters returned to the feet for the final minute of the round. Ota finished the round with another takedown.
Ota scored another takedown early in the second round. Tokoro looked for an armbar on his back again. They stood back up a minute into the fight. Back on the ground, Tokoro searched for an armbar again. With his arm extended, Ota tapped out.
Bout 8: Kyohei Hagiwara (2-3) vs. Ren Hiramoto (0-0) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hagiwara connected with a right hand to start the fight. He shot for a takedown right after that Hiramoto was able to defend. Hagiwara took Hiramoto down with a body lock later in the first minute of the round. Hagiwara landed a knee to the head before Hiramoto got up to his feet again. Hagiwara landed a double leg takedown in the second minute of the round. Hiramoto was able to return to his feet in the second minute of the fight. Hagiwara scored a trip takedown, taking full mount after. Hagiwara scored elbows and hammerfist punches from the position. Hagiwara took the back of Hiramoto, where he looked for a rear naked choke. Hiramoto was able to leave the position and get back to his feet in the fourth minute of the round. Hagiwara kept the pressure on Hiramoto, scoring a single leg takedown. Hagiwara connected with knees and elbows to the head while in side control. Hagiwara looked for a rear naked choke late in the round, holding it until the round ran out of time.
Hiramoto landed a hook to the body early in the second round. Hagiwara looked for another takedown a minute into the second round, although Hiramoto was able to back up into a corner to resist the attempt. Hagiwara eventually scored a double leg takedown in the second minute of the round. Hagiwara stepped into full mount shortly after his takedown, where he unloaded with punches. Hiramoto’s corner threw in the towel during this, causing the fight to end.
Bout 9: Kyle Aguon (13-9) vs. Kleber Koike (25-5-1) (148 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Aguon scored a takedown in the second minute of the fight, getting up quickly after. Koike took Aguon down to his knees for a moment in the third minute of the fight, although Aguon was quick to get up to his feet again. Fight went back down, where Aguon took full guard for a minute. Aguon stood up, attempting a soccer kick. The fight went back to the feet with a minute-and-a-half left in the round. Koike dropped Aguon late in the first round with a right hand. On the ground, Koike put in a guillotine choke while in full mount. The choke put Aguon out, ending the fight.
Bout 10: Yuki Motoya (26-8) vs. Naoki Inoue (14-2) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Motoya chased Inoue down with combinations of strikes early in the fight. Inoue started to walk Motoya down later in the round. Motoya scored a takedown in the third minute of the fight. Inoue was able to get on the back of Motoya, getting a rear naked choke under his chin from the position. Motoya tapped from the choke shortly after.
Bout 11: Ayaka Hamasaki (20-3) vs. Miyuu Yamamoto (6-4) (Vacant RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship)
Hamasaki connected with a few leg kicks early in the fight. Yamamoto connected with a right hook early in the first round. Yamamoto scored a single leg takedown in the first minute of the round. Hamasaki grabbed Yamamoto’s right arm while on her back. Hamasaki was able to take side control while still holding Yamamoto’s arm. While still holding the arm of Yamamoto, Hamasaki used her legs to put in a head-scissor choke that caused a tap. Hamasaki started her second reign as the RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion.
Bout 12: Takanori Gomi vs. Kouzi (RIZIN Special Standing Bout)
The first 30 seconds of the fight were slow, as Gomi stayed in the middle of the ring while Kouzi circled the outside. Gomi missed with a wild right hook a minute into the fight. Gomi was frequently throwing jabs at Kouzi while advancing on him. Kouzi started to open up with more strikes late in the round.
Gomi came forward with a series of hooks to start the second round. While Kouzi was responding with his own shots, Gomi was the more active striker in the round. The fighters were trading wild hooks in the second half of the round, both scoring with most of what they threw.
Like the round before, Gomi and Kouzi were throwing hard hooks at each other in the third round. The damage started to visibly accumulate in their faces late in the round. Needing judges to determine a winner, Gomi was given the unanimous decision win.
Bout 13: Mikuru Asakura (13-2) vs. Satoshi Yamasu (11-5) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)
The fight started slow as both fighters tried to figure each other out. Asakura scored a takedown in the third minute of the round. Asakura went to his feet after being in full guard for a minute. Yamasu was stood up by the referee shortly after. Asakura landed a hard left cross that hurt Yamasu. Yamasu was dropped by a follow-up head kick. Asakura landed follow-up shots on the ground before the referee stopped the fight.
Bout 14: Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit (125 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Nasukawa landed a punch and a leg kick that swept Phetjaroenvit in the first minute. Nasukawa was often catching leg kicks, being able to counter with his own shots after. Phetjaroenvit tossed Nasukawa in a clinch in the final minute of the round. Nasukawa seemed someone bothered by the toss when back on his feet.
Nasukawa seemingly rocked Phetjaroenvit in the second round, although Phetjaroenvit going down was ruled as a slip. While staying composed and not throwing anything wild, Nasukawa lead the second half of the round.
Nasukawa strung together a combination of punches early in the third round. Nasukawa did a pose while there was a lull in the action. Nasukawa rocked Phetjaroenvit with a left hand halfway through the round. After three rounds of action, Nasukawa was given the win.
Bout 15: Kai Asakura (16-2) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) (RIZIN Bantamweight Championship)
Horiguchi scored with a leg kick that tripped Asakura a little in the opening minute. Asakura clinched for a moment with Horiguchi after Horiguchi missed with a punch. Horiguchi seemingly hurt Asakura with a leg kick in the third minute of action. After Asakura attempted a flying knee, Horiguchi landed a right hand that stunned Asakura. Horiguchi scored with two more right hands that dropped Asakura. The fight was stopped as Horiguchi threw punches on the ground. Horiguchi is now the RIZIN Bantamweight Champion again.