RIZIN 27 Preview

Ayaka Hamasaki regained the RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship on Thursday (© RIZIN FF)
Ayaka Hamasaki regained the RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship at RIZIN 26(© RIZIN FF)

RIZIN will hold their first event of the new year on Sunday, presenting a 14-fight card from the Nagoya Civic General Gymnasium in Nagoya, Japan. A rematch will be held in the main event, as RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki will look to defend her belt against Kanna Asakura.

The card sees the return of numerous fighters that the promotion has been building up as of late along with the appearance of successful regional fighters making their promotional debut.

Here is a preview of the card.

Main Card (1:00AM EDT / 2:00PM JST) (Live-Now / RIZIN Live)

Bout 1: Kohei Sugiyama (10-5) vs. Yuki Ito (6-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Experienced flyweights Kohei Sugiyama and Yuki Ito will get their first chance in the RIZIN ring in the opening bout of the card. Ito gets the call-up after a seven-fight pro career on the regional scene. He has competed under DEEP Impact since 2019, where he picked up four wins and, most recently, his first pro loss.

Sugiyama gets the fight after a long run in Pancrase. Like Ito, he is competing after taking a loss in his last fight. Prior to losing a bout to Masatatsu Ueda in December, Sugiyama had three consecutive victories in the Pancrase cage.

Bout 2: Ryota Naito vs. HIROKI (121 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

In the first of four kickboxing bouts on the card, Ryota Naito will fight HIROKI. Naito has competed at the low levels of kickboxing in Japan, fighting in DEEP KICK bouts over the past few years. While he was a DEEP KICK champion in 2019, he is currently on a three-fight losing streak.

There is little information out about HIROKI. Per the RIZIN site, he has a record of seven wins and seven losses and is representing the Y’ZD Minamihorie GYM.

Bout 3: Riki Sakurai vs. Riku Yoshida (141 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Riki Sakurai and Riku Yoshida will both get their first RIZIN appearances on Sunday. Sakurai, a 21-year-old kickboxer, is representing the Team COMRADE gym. His younger brother, Uchu Sakurai, was seen on RIZIN programming in 2019. Riki Sakurai last competed in November, where he lost within a round to Katsuki Ishida.

Yoshida will be competing in kickboxing shortly after winning his MMA debut against Kodai Yamasaki on a DEEP Impact and Pancrase collaborative card last year.

Bout 4: Shuto Sato vs. Masayoshi Kunimoto (117 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Shuto Sato will look for his first RIZIN win when facing Masayoshi Kunimoto on Sunday. Sato has competed twice in RIZIN among the many promotions he has visited in his kickboxing career. He last appeared in the promotion in November, losing on scorecards to Jin Mandokoro. He has bounced back with a win since then on the regional scene.

Kunimoto will be fighting under the RIZIN banner for the first time. He has previously fought in promotions like Hoost Cup, Shoot Boxing and Battle of Muay Thai.

Bout 5: Yutaro Muramoto (7-5-2) vs. Seigo Yamamoto (4-5-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

The card shifts back to a focus on MMA for a bout between Yutaro Muramoto and Seigo Yamamoto. Muramoto had a RIZIN appearance in 2019 where he was stopped by Takaki Soya in the second round. He has fought once since then, earning a submission win in DEEP Impact.

Yamamoto has the chance to even his pro record with the fight. While he lost five of six fights during a stretch from 2016 to 2018, he has since turned his career around with wins in his last two fights. On Sunday, he will be returning after over a year outside of action.

Bout 6: Shooto Watanabe (21-5-6) vs. Takumi Tamaru (12-2-1) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Representing Shooto Japan, Takumi Tamaru will fight Shooto Watanabe in a bantamweight fight. Tamaru had a busy year in 2020, picking up two wins and one loss. His last fight, a bout in late December, saw him submit Daiki Tsubota with a front choke.

Like some fighters earlier in the card, Watanabe will be returning to RIZIN in the search of his first win in the promotion. His first appearance for RIZIN, a fight against Naoki Inoue in August, resulted in him getting submitted within a round with a rear naked choke. He has since then won by stopping Takashi Terada on a Fighting NEXUS card.

Bout 7: Kazuma Sone (24-20-1) vs. Hiroki Yamashita (7-8) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

MMA veteran of 45 fights, Kazuma Sone, will return on Sunday for a fight against Hiroki Yamashita. Sone snapped a five-fight skid in January, defeating former UFC fighter Teruto Ishihara on a Shooto Japan card. Now he will look for his first RIZIN win in his third fight under the promotion.

Yamashita currently has a negative MMA record of seven wins and eight losses. However, like Yamamoto in a fight mentioned earlier, a win would even it up. He has lost four of his last fight fights.

Bout 8: Tetsuya Seki (13-6-1) vs. Yoshinori Horie (9-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Tetsuya Seki’s long streak of wins will be tested by former UFC fighter Yoshinori Horie on Sunday.

Seki has now won nine of his last 10 fights, with the other fight in the series resulting in a draw. He had a successful RIZIN debut in August, catching Kouya Kanda with strikes in the second round of their fight.

Horie will be fighting for the first time in RIZIN. Horie had a quick one-fight UFC run in 2019, losing a bout to Hakeem Dawodu. He has since returned to Pancrase, a promotion that he has spent most of his career in. He has picked up a scorecard win and loss since the start of 2020.

FURTHER READING: Yoshinori Horie’s Reintroduction To The Big Stage

Bout 9: TAIGA vs. Kanta Motoyama (134 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

RIZIN kickboxing regular TAIGA will fight for the promotion again on Friday, welcoming Kanta Motoyama. TAIGA snapped a three-fight losing streak in the fall, fighting to a decision against Yuma Yamahata.

Motoyama enters Sunday’s card following experience on the regional scene. He has picked up two wins on ONE Championship’s feeder series, the “Warrior Series,” through the last two years. He took a loss in his last bout, losing on scorecards to Ryusho Ito in December.

Bout 10: Tsuyoshi Sudario (2-0) vs. Kazushi Miyamoto (0-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)

RIZIN’s sumo-turned-MMA-fighter experiment in Tsuyoshi Sudario will continue on Sunday, fighting pro wrestler Kazushi Miyamoto, who will be making his MMA debut.

Sudario has been fighting in MMA since September. His pro debut, a stoppage win against a similar opponent in pro wrestler Dylan James, took place at RIZIN 24. He earned his biggest win on New Year’s Eve, defeating MMA veteran Minowaman within a round with leg kicks.

Miyamoto is an experienced pro wrestler who has been fighting since 2001. The 42-year-old has been inactive in recent years, putting down only two matches in 2020 and seven in 2019, per Cagematch.

Bout 11: Kleber Koike (26-5-1) vs. Kazumasa Majima (14-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Returning after a dominant RIZIN debut in December, Kleber Koike will fight Kazumasa Majima. Koike, a former KSW Champion, had his first RIZIN fight on New Year’s Eve. The strong performance saw him choke out Kyle Aguon late in the first round.

Majima will be returning after taking only his second pro loss in August. Fighting under RIZIN for the first time in his last fight, Majima was stopped with strikes by Yutaka Saito, who has since gone on to become the promotion’s featherweight champion. Prior to then, Majima had a 12-fight win streak going.

Bout 12: Koji Takeda (11-1) vs. Takasuke Kume (24-6-3) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)

It will be a classic promotion-versus-promotion fight late in the card when Koji Takeda fights Takasuke Kume. Takeda has represented DEEP Impact for most of his career, attaining eight wins under the promotion. Takeda scored his first RIZIN win recently, appearing on a September card and picking up a decision against Yuki Kawana.

Kume is representing Pancrase, a promotion where he has claimed a belt and previously represented on the international stage through a ONE Card. Like Takeda, Kume is returning after winning a RIZIN bout in September, as he defeated Satoru Kitaoka.

Bout 13: Roberto Satoshi Souza (10-1) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (20-10-1) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Fighting for the first time after ending a stint in ONE Championship, Kazuki Tokudome will fight rising lightweight Roberto Satoshi Souza in the co-main event.

Tokudome competed for ONE from 2018 to 2019, fighting four times in the promotion. He finished his run with two wins in 2019.

Souza will be looking to continue what has been a relatively successful career since joining the RIZIN roster in 2019. Souza returned from his sole pro loss in August, stopping Krazy Bee’s Yusuke Yachi in the first round with punches in the main event of RIZIN 22.

Bout 14: Ayaka Hamasaki (21-3) vs. Kanna Asakura (18-4) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship)

Kanna Asakura will attempt to avenge a 2018 loss in the main event, fighting RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki. Asakura fought Hamasaki to become the inaugural RIZIN 108-pound champ back at RIZIN 14.

Back then, Asakura was coming off a successful 2017 grand prix run that resulted in her defeating Shoot Boxing star RENA in the final. Hamasaki was getting the shot after becoming an Invicta FC Champion and putting together a couple of wins in RIZIN.

The fight was a strong performance for Hamasaki, who submitted Asakura in the second round with an armbar. Hamasaki lost her belt a year later, dropping it in a close fight against former UFC fighter Seo Hee Ham.

Hamasaki had the chance to become champion again in 2020, as Ham left the promotion and vacated the belt. Hamasaki made quick work of Miyuu Yamamoto in December, submitting her in the second minute with a leg scissors choke to reclaim her belt. A win on Sunday would give her the first title defence of her second run.

Asakura is being given a title shot after a strong couple of years in the promotion. She has won her last four fights, including fights against notable opponents like Alesha Zappitella and AI.

FURTHER READING: Kanna Asakura: Then Hesitant, Now Ready

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