Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN will narrow their bantamweight tournament down to four men on Sunday night, holding the quarter-final bouts of a grand prix at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The four bouts headline RIZIN 30, which includes other big names in the promotion like RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki, former UFC fighters Ulka Sasaki and Yoshinori Horie, former K-1 Japan Kickboxer Yuta Kubo, and more.
Follow along throughout the day for updates on the event.
Main Card (1:00AM EDT / 2:00PM JST) (Live-Now / RIZIN Live)
Bout 10: Kai Asakura (17-3) vs. Alan Yamaniha (18-8-4) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
Asakura Goes Three Rounds Against Yamaniha, Gets Scorecard Win In Grand Prix Bout
Kai Asakura fought a hard three-round main event on Sunday, defeating Alan Yamaniha via unanimous decision to take the final spot in the semi-finals of RIZIN’s Bantamweight Grand Prix.
Asakura’s stand-up ability gave him the win, starting strong and keeping a lead late.
Asakura dictated the pace of the fight early, advancing on Yamaniha with fast punches that were connecting. While Yamaniha never seemed significantly hurt by a shot in the frame, he was being greatly out-struck by the former champ.
The pace of the fight slowed down in the later rounds as fatigue set in, although it was the strikes from Asakura that continued to be most notable.
Yamaniha was able to secure a takedown in the second round, but Asakura quickly got back up to his feet.
Yamaniha became able to land his own strikes more often late in the fight. However, Asakura had gained a lead in the fight at that point which carried him to victory.
Asakura picked up a stoppage win in the opening round of the tournament, finishing the experienced Shooto Watanabe in June. The fight was his first appearance after losing the RIZIN Bantamweight Championship to Kyoji Horiguchi in December.
Yamaniha won his RIZIN debut in the first round of the tournament, defeating Kazuma Kuramoto at RIZIN 29.
Yamaniha trains out of notable gym Bonzai Jiu-Jitsu, which currently hosts former KSW Champion Kleber Koike and RIZIN Lightweight Champion Roberto Satoshi Souza.
Bout 9: Naoki Inoue (16-2) vs. Kintaro (14-9-2) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
Inoue Out-Lands Kintaro, Secures Grand Prix Semi-Final Spot
Naoki Inoue continued his undefeated RIZIN run in the semi-finals of the Bantamweight Grand Prix, defeating Kintaro via unanimous decision after a close fight.
Inoue got ahead in the fight early, landing with strikes while managing the distance with Kintaro. He frequently connected with kicks to the lead leg of Kintaro in every round.
Kintaro got more comfortable in the final round, backing Inoue up with shots for a large portion of the round. The most hectic part of the fight was the start of the third round, where both bantamweights opened up with wild punches.
Inoue had an explosive win in the first round of the tournament, stopping Shintaro Ishiwatari with a soccer kick in June. Now with the win on Sunday, Inoue has scored five victories since joining the RIZIN roster in early 2020.
Kintaro made his way to the Grand Prix semi-finals by defeating Kuya Ito three months back.
Bout 8: Hiromasa Ougikubo (22-5-2) vs. Takafumi Otsuka (29-18-1) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
Ougikubo Uses Striking Ability For Grand Prix Win
Hiromasa Ougikubo punched his ticket into the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix semi-finals on Sunday, getting the best of a three-round stand-up battle against Takafumi Otsuka for a unanimous decision win.
The fight often had both fighters unload with quick combinations on the feet, getting in exchanges that Ougikubo got the best of.
Otsuka seemingly got rocked hard in the third round by a right hook, although he might have saved himself by securing a takedown just moments after.
Back on the feet in the final minute of the fight, a right cross from Ougikubo stunned Otsuka.
Ougikubo has put together two wins since losing a title fight last year. He defeated veteran Takeshi Kasugai in the first round of the tournament, defeating him on scorecards at RIZIN 28.
The incredibly experienced Otsuka defeated tournament underdog Shian in the opening round of the bracket. The bout was his first appearance in the promotion since 2017, with his fights in-between then being in regional promotions DEEP Impact and Shooto Japan.
Bout 7: Yuki Motoya (28-9) vs. Kenta Takizawa (12-7) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final)
Takizawa Takes Upset Win Against Motoya, Advances In Grand Prix
Pancrase veteran Kenta Takizawa pulled off a big upset in his quarter-final bout, stopping Yuki Motoya in the second round with strikes.
Takizawa’s sudden victory saw him hurt Motoya with punches, then apply pressure that took the fight to the finish.
Takizawa first hurt Motoya in the first round with a left hook, dropping him with the blow. Back on his feet, Motoya moved over to ropes and started to exit the ring while being pelted with hooks from Takizawa. After enough shots went unanswered, the referee stopped the fight.
Takizawa had an infamous win in the first round of the tournament, getting a decision nod over Masakazu Imanari after evading his submission attempts for most of the fight. Before then, he had a two-fight losing streak in the promotion.
Motoya, a former bantamweight title challenger, entered the bout on a two-fight winning streak. He advanced past the opening round of the tournament by defeating Ryo Okada on scorecards in June.
Bout 6: Ayaka Hamasaki (22-3) vs. Emi Fujino (25-11) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hamasaki Defeats Pancrase Champ, Fellow Veteran Fujino
RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki showcased her striking skills on Sunday, defeating fellow veteran Emi Fujino via unanimous decision after a three-round non-title fight.
Hamasaki landed the better shots throughout the fight, showing quickness and accuracy with combinations of punches in every round.
Hamasaki is currently RIZIN’s 108-pound champ, having defended her belt once since earning it late last year. Her previous bout was a split decision win over Kanna Asakura, who she was facing in a rematch.
Fujino, the Strawweight Queen of Pancrase, was making her RIZIN debut on a three-fight winning streak. She has a long history in MMA, including a 2012 unanimous decision loss against Hamasaki.
Fujino’s extensive career also includes fights against Zhang Weili, Jessica Aguilar, Mizuki Inoue and Viviane Araujo.
Bout 5: Koji Takeda (12-1) vs. Yusuke Yachi (22-11) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Yachi Defeats DEEP Champ Takeda, Continues Run
Yusuke Yachi continued his “sequel” campaign on Sunday, defeating regional champ Koji Takeda to move his win streak to two consecutive.
Activity from Yachi allowed him to get the scorecard nod against Takeda, who was often putting the fight into stalling positions.
Yachi scored with a flying knee just seconds into the bout, sprinting forward and connecting clean. He avoided a deep kimura attempt in the opening round after being taken down by Takeda.
A large portion of the second and third rounds took place in a clinch position, with Takeda often holding Yachi in a corner of the ring.
Yachi would often be more active in the clinch positions, landing strikes in the positions. When separated and at stand-up range, Yachi had the much better striking.
Yachi put an end to an extensive losing streak in June, defeating Shooto Japan Lightweight Champion Yuki Kawana. The win kicked off a campaign of Yachi, where he aimed to defeat all of the regional champions in Japan.
Takeda entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak that included RIZIN victories over Yuki Kawana and Takasuke Kume.
Bout 4: Ulka Sasaki (23-8-2) vs. Yoshinori Horie (10-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sasaki Loses Move Up To Featherweight Against Horie
Yoshinori Horie earned his second consecutive RIZIN win on Sunday, picking up a unanimous decision win over Ulka Sasaki, who was moving up a weight class for the fight.
Horie was way more active on the feet, out-landing Sasaki and shutting down takedown attempts in every frame. Sasaki was never in great trouble in the fight, although he always came off one step behind his opponent.
Sasaki was making his first RIZIN appearance at featherweight, with his previous appearances in the promotion being down at bantamweight.
The former UFC flyweight made his return late last year, coming back from a jaw injury to defeat Kenta Takizawa via unanimous decision.
Horie, also a former UFC fighter, was coming back after scoring a stoppage victory in his RIZIN debut against Tetsuya Seki.
Bout 3: Shinobu Ota (0-1) vs. Yuta Kubo (0-0) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Olympian Ota Secures First MMA Win
Greco-Roman wrestling Olympian Shinobu Ota scored his first MMA victory on Sunday, defeating kickboxer Yuta Kubo via unanimous decision after three rounds.
Each round played out the same for Ota, as he took Kubo down early and spent the rest of the frames landing periodic ground and pound.
The fight was Kubo’s MMA debut.
Kubo was making his first combat sports appearance since last year.
He previously appeared in March 2020, where he defeated Jordan Pikeurr under kickboxing rules to defend his K-1 Japan Championship. He has since relinquished that belt and departed the kickboxing promotion.
Ota, a silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, was coming back after losing his MMA debut last year to Hideo Tokoro.
Bout 2: Shoji Maruyama (18-14-1) vs. Chihiro Suzuki (5-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Maruyama Stops Lands Left Hook, Ends Bout Against Suzuki In Seconds
Veteran Shoji Maruyama stopped an aggressive Chihiro Suzuki on Sunday, finishing him within a minute with strikes.
Suzuki had a fast start to the fight, charging forward and throwing wailing shots at Maruyama. He got caught on the way in with a left hook, dropping him and forcing the bout to end shortly after.
Suzuki was making his return to MMA after a recent stint in kickboxing. His MMA career kicked off in Pancrase, where he attained a record of five wins and two losses.
The victory for Maruyama snapped a two-fight losing streak that he had built up in RIZIN recently. The veteran had been finished in prior bouts by Kai Asakura and Yuki Motoya.
Bout 1: Panchan Rina vs. Momoka (103 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Panchan Scores Decision Win In RIZIN Debut
Kickboxer Panchan Rina walked away with a unanimous decision win in her RIZIN debut, defeating veteran Momoka to kick off the 10-fight card.
The scorecard win for Rina came after a close fight that saw both strikers land at a high rate.
The three-round battle was back-and-forth throughout, with Momoka and Rina charging into close range with combinations. Rina frequently threw a teep kick to the body of Momoka to push her back, sometimes following up with other shots after.
Rina looked somewhat unsatisfied with the outcome of the fight was it was being read.
The fight was history for RIZIN, as it was their first time hosting a womens kickboxing bout.
Rina entered the bout with an undefeated kickboxing record of 11 wins. She is one of the more famous kickboxers in Japan’s regional scene, having attained a large following on Instagram and Youtube.
Momoka had the experience edge over Rina, entering the fight with 40 kickboxing bouts on her record.