Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN unveiled seven bouts for their October 24th RIZIN 31 card Thursday. The new pairings include former RIZIN Atomweight Champion Kanna Asakura, along with the return of other JMMA veterans Daisuke Nakamura, Yusaku Nakamura, Takahiro Ashida, and more.
The matchups join a card that is expected to take place at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan.
RIZIN Unveils Trio of Featherweight Matchups, Expects Title Fight
Continuing their expansion of the featherweight division, RIZIN placed four 146-pound bouts on this lineup and plans to have a title fight from the weight class in the main event.
Veteran fighter Daisuke Nakamura will make his RIZIN debut against Suguru Nii at the event. Nakamura, 41, has fought as a pro since 2002, mostly fighting in regional promotion DEEP Impact. He has won a lost a bout this year as part of a two-fight rivalry against Juntaru Ushiku.
Nii will be making his return to action. The Pancrase vet last fought in late 2019, where he lost to Hiroshige Tanaka.
Both returning to the promotion after somewhat of a layoff, Masanori Kanehara and Takahiro Ashida will meet at featherweight.
Ashida won his RIZIN MMA debut just under a year ago, catching explosive finisher Kyohei Hagiwara in the first round with a hammerlock submission.
Kanehara’s last appearance was in early 2020, where he lost a bout to Victor Henry. The former UFC fighter was on a two-fight winning streak before then.
Looking for his third consecutive win in RIZIN, Rikuto Shirakawa will fight GRACHAN Champion Takuya Yamamoto.
Shirakawa has had a very successful past 12 months, having scored three wins within that time. After a first-round stoppage victory in DEEP Impact, Shirakawa went on to defeat Kotetsu Boku and Jin Aoi on the big stage.
Yamamoto has won seven of his nine pro bouts, with his sole loss coming via disqualification. He has held GRACHAN’s 145-pound belt since 2018, having most recently defended it against Yusuke Kagiyama in late 2020.
Along with the three matchups in the division, it was revealed that RIZIN Featherweight Champion Yutaka Saito will compete on the card – although we don’t know his opponent at the moment.
Flyweights Join RIZIN 31 Card
The card in October will also include two bouts at flyweight.
RIZIN vet Yusaku Nakamura will attempt to end a losing streak when fighting Yuki Ito.
Nakamura has appeared under the RIZIN banner five times since 2018, putting together a record of one win and four losses between MMA and kickboxing. His last two fights, which came against Makoto Shinryu and Tatsuki Saomoto, were losses. Now after a year out of the cage, he looks for a win.
Nakamura was scheduled to compete earlier this year against Daichi Kitakata at RIZIN 29, although that bout was thrown out on short notice due to illness.
Seiichiro Ito will look for his first RIZIN win since 2017 when fighting promotional newcomer Kunta Hashimoto.
Ito snapped a three-fight skid in his return to ZST, defeating Yuta Hamamoto in November. Before then, he had lost twice in RIZIN, including once to now-UFC fighter Manel Kape.
Hashimoto has had a strong campaign on the regional scene over the past year, stringing together four wins. He most recently fought in July, where he snatched the Fighting NEXUS Flyweight Championship from Takehiro Ishii.
Former Champ Asakura Faces Oshima
Former RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Kanna Asakura will welcome Saori Oshima to RIZIN the event.
Asakura will be making her first appearance since losing a rematch to current 108-pound champ Ayaka Hamasaki in March. She was given the title shot after rallying together four wins from 2019 to 2020.
Oshima is getting her shot on the RIZIN stage after a busy near two-year run on the regional scene. She has gone undefeated this year, scoring three wins and defeating Hikaru Aono to become the DEEP Jewels Atomweight Champion.
UFC, ONE Vet Abe To Make RIZIN Debut Against Okada
Former UFC and ONE Championship fighter Daichi Abe will make his first RIZIN appearance when facing Akira Okada.
Abe fought three times in the UFC before going to ONE Championship for a two-bout stint. He currently holds a welterweight championship in DEEP Impact, the promotion that he has competed in since departing ONE Championship.
Okada, who is simply being billed as “Akira” for this fight, is entering RIZIN after two finish victories in Pancrase.
Here’s how the card looks currently:
Bout 7: Seiichiro Ito (13-4-2) vs. Kunta Hashimoto (7-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 6: Rikuto Shirakawa (10-8-1) vs. Takuya Yamamoto (7-1-1) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 5: Daichi Abe (9-4) vs. Akira (15-8-4) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Masanori Kanehara (27-14-5) vs. Takahiro Ashida (24-10-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 3: Daisuke Nakamura (30-20-1) vs. Suguru Nii (12-10) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 2: Yusaku Nakamura (16-8-1) vs. Yuki Ito (8-2) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 1: Kanna Asakura (18-5) vs. Saori Oshima (6-2) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)