RIZIN 29 Preview

Genji Umeno, Kouzi, Taiju Shiratori and Ryo Takahashi pose for a photo at a press conference.
RIZIN will hold a one-night kickboxing tournament on Sunday. (RIZIN FF)

Just two weeks after their debut event at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, top Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN will head to the Maruzen Intec Arena Osaka in Osaka for RIZIN 29.

The event will see a mix of kickboxing and MMA matchups. Along with the final bouts in the opening round of the promotion’s bantamweight tournament, a one-night kickboxing bracket will take place, with the finals headlining the show.

Here’s a full preview of the event.

Main Card (12:30AM EDT / 1:30PM JST) (Live-Now / RIZIN Live)

Bout 1: Yuma Yamahata vs. Kiyoto Takahashi (139 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

A series of kickboxing fights will kick off RIZIN 29. The first fighters to walk through the curtain will be Yuma Yamahata and Kiyoto Takahashi.

They both have a strong amount of experience in the Japanese kickboxing scene, fighting in smaller promotions like DEEP KICK, and NJKF.

Yamahata notably appeared in RIZIN last year, losing a decision to TAIGA.

The fight on Sunday will be Takahashi’s RIZIN debut.

Bout 2: Seiki Ueyama vs. Jyosei Izumi (123 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Flyweight kickboxers Seiki Ueyama and Jyosei Izumi will meet in the second bout.

Ueyama is no stranger to RIZIN, having fought in the promotion three times. The Shoot Boxing and RISE veteran took a loss in his last fight for the promotion, dropping a decision to Rui Ebata. His two RIZIN fights in 2019 were victories.

Ueyama has already scored two wins this year, fighting in regional promotions NJKF and HEAT, per database Tapology.

Bout 3: Yoshinari Nadaka vs. Chikai (115 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

20-year-old kickboxing talent Yoshinari Nadaka will make his third RIZIN appearance when facing Chikai on Sunday.

Nadaka has put on dominant displays in his two previous RIZIN appearances, stopping Yuushin and Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit with strikes. He has also scored a win in regional promotion Battle of Muay Thai since he last appeared on a RIZIN show.

Chikai, a fellow young kickboxer, is fighting in RIZIN after scoring two decision victories recently.

Bout 4: Kouzi vs. Genji Umeno (134 lbs) (RIZIN Kick Tournament Semifinal) (Kickboxing Bout)

In the first of two semifinal fights in the one-night kickboxing tournament, Kouzi will face Genji Umeno.

Kouzi is an experienced kickboxer with over 25 wins on his pro record. He is best known for his fights in K-1 Japan, including a title fight against Takeru in 2018.

He has had an odd career since moving to RIZIN. He had his first fight in the promotion last year, battling three rounds against star kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa to lose on scorecards. He has since competed once, losing to MMA fighter Takanori Gomi in a custom rules bout which was basically a three-round boxing exhibition.

Umeno also has an experienced record in kickboxing and Muay Thai. He has recently fought in RISE Kickboxing and Battle of Muay Thai. A win on Sunday for Umeno could potentially set him up for a rematch with Taiju Shiratori, who defeated him in 2019.

Bout 5: Taiju Shiratori vs. Ryo Takahashi (134 lbs) (RIZIN Kick Tournament Semifinal) (Kickboxing Bout)

On the other side of the bracket, Taiju Shiratori will battle Ryo Takahashi.

Shiratori has fought in RIZIN numerous times, although his appearance on Sunday will be his first for them in over a year. The first fight in the tournament gives him a chance to snap a two-fight losing streak that he has taken in RISE Kickboxing recently.

Takahashi has numerous fights in promotions like NJKF, Hoost Cup and NKB.

Bout 6: Yusaku Nakamura (16-8-1) vs. Daichi Kitakata (20-10-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

The MMA fights will kick off when Yusaku Nakamura faces Daichi Kitakata.

Both fighters will be competing with the intention of snapping two-fight losing streaks. Nakamura was stopped within a round in his last appearance, as a left hook from Tatsuki Saomoto finished him in August of last year.

Kitakata, a King of Pancrase, lost his RIZIN debut last year to Saomoto via unanimous decision.

Bout 7: Rikuto Shirakawa (9-8-1) vs. Jin Aoi (8-3-1) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Returning after scoring their first RIZIN win respectively, Rikuto Shirakawa and Jin Aoi will meet at featherweight.

Aoi made his RIZIN debut last year, defeating veteran Kotetsu Boku via unanimous decision. Prior to then, Aoi’s record mostly took place in regional promotion Shooto Japan.

Shirakawa was then the next fighter to defeat Boku, stopping him in the third round of a fight in November. The bout was a bounce-back for Shirakawa, who had lost his RIZIN debut earlier that year to Kyohei Hagiwara.

Bout 8: Yusuke Yachi (21-11) vs. Yuki Kawana (16-5-5) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Aiming to get back on the right track, Yusuke Yachi will face Yuki Kawana on Sunday. Yachi has been a frequent competitor in RIZIN since 2016, at one point being on a five-fight winning streak in the promotion.

However, Yachi has struggled since 2018, having lost five of his last six. After nine months out of the cage and a change of gyms, Yachi will be fighting with something to prove on Sunday.

Kawana, a former PFL fighter and veteran of Shooto Japan, will be fighting in the RIZIN cage for the second time. He came up unsuccessful in his first RIZIN fight, dropping a split decision to Koji Takeda.

FURTHER READING: The Reboot of Yusuke Yachi

Bout 9: Kazuma Kuramoto (8-1) vs. Alan Yamaniha (17-8-4) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Opening Round)

RIZIN will conclude the first round of their Bantamweight Grand Prix on Sunday, holding four bouts. They started the tournament at RIZIN 28 earlier this month, where Yuki Motoya, Hiromasa Ougikubo, Naoki Inoue and Kai Asakura advanced past the first round.

Bantamweights Kazuma Kuramoto and Alan Yamaniha will compete as part of the tournament on Sunday.

Kuramoto had an explosive RIZIN debut on New Year’s Eve last year, stopping Taiyo Nakahara within a round with strikes. He took the fight after eight bouts in Shooto Japan, attaining seven wins and one loss.

Yamaniha, a veteran of the regional Japanese MMA scene, will be fighting in RIZIN for the first time on Sunday. He has competed as a pro since 2010 and has 17 pro wins. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak from fights in Pancrase. He trains out of Bonsai Jiu-Jitsu, a gym that has notable RIZIN fighters Kleber Koike and Roberto Satoshi Souza.

Bout 10: Kenta Takizawa (11-7) vs. Masakazu Imanari (38-19-2) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Opening Round)

Kenta Takizawa will face legendary fighter Masakazu Imanari as part of the tournament.

Imanari is an MMA veteran of two decades and is recognized for having the “imanari roll” submission named after him. He is competing for the first time since leaving ONE Championship, where he earned two wins and three losses from 2018 to 2020.

Takizawa has had a quick run in RIZIN so far, fighting three times since first joining the promotion in September. He has lost his last two bouts, although they have come against notable competitors Hiromasa Ougikubo and Ulka Sasaki.

Bout 11: Takafumi Otsuka (28-18-1) vs. Shian (8-8) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Opening Round)

After an explosive RIZIN debut earlier this year, Shian is being matched against a big name in Takafumi Otsuka.

While Shian entered RIZIN in March with a negative pro record of seven wins and eight losses, he evened it in only 27 seconds, stopping Kazuma Sone with hard strikes. His previous fights mostly came in regional Japanese promotions like Pancrase and GRACHAN.

Otsuka will be returning to RIZIN for the first time since 2017. He last fought for the promotion in 2017, posting two wins and one loss. He has fought in DEEP Impact and Shooto Japan in recent years, putting together a record of four wins and four losses since 2018.

Bout 12: Kintaro (13-9-2) vs. Kuya Ito (10-8-1) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Opening Round)

The final bout of the bracket will see Kintaro and Kuya Ito face off.

Kintaro took his first RIZIN loss in September, losing a split decision to Kenta Takizawa. His promotional debut was a finish victory earlier in the year, needing just one round to submit Kenji Kato.

Ito has not appeared in RIZIN before. While his pro career started rough with six losses in seven fights, he turned his record around in recent years. Most notably, he went on a six-fight winning streak from 2017 to 2019 and has earned 10 wins as a pro in total now.

Bout 13: TBA vs. TBA (RIZIN Kick Tournament Grand Finals) (Kickboxing Bout)

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