RIZIN Featherweight Champion Yutaka Saito will attempt to defend his belt for the first time on Sunday when facing Juntaro Ushiku. The title fight is set to headline RIZIN 31, which will take place at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan on Sunday.
Follow along throughout the evening for live updates on the event.
Main Card (1:00AM EDT / 2:00PM JST) (Live-Now / RIZIN Live)
Bout 11: Yutaka Saito (20-4-2) vs. Juntaro Ushiku (19-8-1) (RIZIN Featherweight Championship) (MMA Bout)
Doctor Stoppage Causes Title To Change Hands, Crowns Ushiku New RIZIN Featherweight Champion
Juntaro Ushiku landed a slicing knee that cut Yutaka Saito open in the main event, causing a second-round doctor stoppage and the changing of ownership for the RIZIN Featherweight Championship.
A sudden stop to the fight in the second round crowned Ushiku the new 145-pound champ in RIZIN.
The main event bout was paused in the second round after Saito was visibly bleeding from his head. Replays on the broadcast showed that a flying knee from Ushiku was the exact strike that caused the cut.
After the cut was inspected in a corner of the ring, the call was made to end the fight. This was a decision that Saito visibly disagreed with.
Saito was attempting to defend his belt for the first time. He became the inaugural champ of the weight class last year, fighting to a unanimous decision victory over Mikuru Asakura.
Saito had fought once since his first title fight, defeating Vugar Karamov via split decision in a non-championship bout.
Ushiku was making his RIZIN debut in the fight. He entered with the notoriety of being the DEEP Impact Featherweight Champion, defeating Satoshi Yamasu to take the belt last year. He defended the title for the first time in July, defeating Daisuke Nakamura via split decision.
Bout 10: Kanna Asakura (18-5) vs. Saori Oshima (6-2) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Oshima Scores Big RIZIN Debut Win, Defeats Asakura
Saori Oshima scored a big win in her RIZIN debut, defeating two-time title challenger Kanna Asakura via split decision.
Oshima’s grappling was mostly what earned her the victory, often working for submission attempts while on her back. She did damage in these positions as well, sometimes connecting with upkicks to the head of Asakura.
The final round was Asakura’s best, as she was able to put together some ground and pound while in top position.
Oshima was given her RIZIN debut after defeating Hikaru Aono earlier this year to become the new DEEP Jewels Atomweight Champion.
Asakura was looking to rebound off a title fight loss she took to Ayaka Hamasaki in March.
Bout 9: Tsuyoshi Sudario (3-1) vs. SAINT (2-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sudario Earns Walk-Off KO In Return
Tsuyoshi Sudario bounced back from his sole pro loss with an explosive win, flooring DEEP Impact heavyweight SAINT with a left hook.
The walk-off knockout win for Sudario came after the heavyweights traded hard punches on the feet. Sudario was landing the better shots in the exchanges, visibly wobbling SAINT at times.
Sudario, a former sumo wrestler turned MMA fighter, took his first pro loss earlier this year when he was submitted by Shoma Shibisai.
SAINT was entering RIZIN after scoring two wins in regional promotion DEEP Impact earlier this year.
Bout 8: Masanori Kanehara (27-14-5) vs. Takahiro Ashida (24-10-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Kanehara Wins In RIZIN Return, Submits Ashida With Arm Triangle Choke
Former UFC fighter Masanori Kanehara picked up his first RIZIN win Sunday, putting away Takahiro Ashida with explosive strikes.
Kanehara hurt Ashida early in the second round with a right cross, causing him to fall with somewhat of a delayed reaction. After landing a few shots from a ground and pound position, the referee put an end to the fight.
Kanehara nearly finished the fight late in the first round, applying an arm triangle choke that Ashida survived until the round concluded.
Kanehara’s sole previous RIZIN fight was a loss in early 2020 against Victor Henry.
Ashida had a quick submission win in his prior RIZIN bout, submitting Kyohei Hagiwara.
Bout 7: Daichi Abe (9-4) vs. Akira (15-8-4) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Pancrase Vet Akira Wins RIZIN Debut
Pancrase fighter Akira showed his grappling skills in his RIZIN debut, stopping Daichi Abe in the second round with a rare north-south choke.
Akira had to battle past adversity in the first round, getting knocked down by Abe for a moment during the first round.
Akira entered the weekend on a two-fight winning streak from the past year.
Abe, a former UFC and ONE Championship fighter, was getting a shot in RIZIN after earning the interim DEEP Impact Welterweight Championship in February.
Akira called out JMMA legend Takanori Gomi aftert his win.
Bout 6: Daisuke Nakamura (30-20-1) vs. Suguru Nii (12-10) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Veteran Nakamura Secures Early Armbar For Win In RIZIN Debut
Veteran Daisuke Nakamura won his RIZIN debut on Sunday, getting a quick submission win against Suguru Nii.
Nakamura hurt Nii with strikes on the feet early on. Nii tried to get the fight to the ground while hurt from shots. Nakamura quickly took to an armbar attempt on the ground, eventually fully extending the arm of Nii for a tap.
Nakamura has fought as a pro since 2002, fighting in promotions like Pride FC and DEEP Impact. He entered the weekend after taking a loss to DEEP Impact Champion Juntaro Ushiku in July.
Nii, an experienced fighter from Pancrase, was also appearing in RIZIN for the first time. He was competing for the first time since late 2019.
Bout 5: Rikuto Shirakawa (10-8-1) vs. Takuya Yamamoto (7-1-1) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Shirakawa Scores Soccer Kick KO, Earns Third Consecutive RIZIN Win
Rikuto Shirakawa scored a brutal first-round finish win, knocking Takuya Yamamoto out with a soccer kick.
Shirakawa first hurt Yamamoto with a right cross, getting him to the ground with the strike. He then knocked him out with a brutal soccer kick, causing the fight to end.
Shirakawa had succeeded earlier in the fight as well with his striking.
Shirakawa is now on a three-fight winning streak in RIZIN. His previous fight was in June, where he scored a decision win over Jin Aoi.
Shirakawa called out Vugar Karamov after his win.
Yamamoto was appearing in RIZIN for the first time. He earned the GRACHAN Featherweight Championship in his last fight, defeating Yusuke Kagiyama late last year.
Bout 4: Nadaka Yoshinari vs. Naoki Ishikawa (117 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Yoshinari Puts Away Ishikawa In First Round For Fourth RIZIN Win
Nadaka Yoshinari continued his dominant RIZIN run on Sunday, stopping Naoki Ishikawa within a round under kickboxing rules.
Yoshinari’s first knockdown came in early, as he landed an elbow in the clinch that dropped Ishikawa in the first minute. Another elbow floored Ishikawa a minute later.
Yoshinari stopped the fight late in the first round with a two-punch combination of hooks.
Like his other appearances in RIZIN, Yoshinari’s win was under special kickboxing rules that allowed elbows as well.
Yoshinari has now scored four wins in RIZIN, with all of them coming via stoppage.
Bout 3: Yusaku Nakamura (16-8-1) vs. Yuki Ito (8-2) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Ito Scores First-Round Stoppage Win Against Vet Nakamura
Yuki Ito stopped RIZIN veteran Yusaku Nakamura within a round, finishing him with ground and pound after a back-and-forth round.
Ito dropped Nakamura late in the round with a left cross. After scoring with a soccer kick, Ito went to the ground and unloaded with ground and pound that made Nakamura shell up.
Nakamura succeeded earlier in the round, scoring a knockdown in the second minute of the fight.
Nakamura seemingly had an issue with his right eye late in the fight. Swelling on the eye became noticeable after the fight’s conclusion.
Ito has now won in both of his RIZIN appearances. He had an explosive promotional debut in March, stopping Kohei Sugiyama in just 33 seconds. He was coming off a loss in this fight, as he lost to Yamato Fujita on a DEEP Impact card last month.
Nakamura is now on a three-fight losing streak in RIZIN. His promotional record is one win and five losses between MMA and kickboxing.
Bout 2: Seiichrio Ito (13-4-2) vs. Kunta Hashimoto (7-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hashimoto Gets Past Striking Battle, Secures Comeback Submission Win Over Ito
Seiichiro Ito had an impressive comeback win against Kunta Hashimoto on Sunday, battling through scary moments to earn a rear naked choke submission in the second round.
The first round of the fight saw the pendulum swing numerous times, with both fighters hurting each other with strikes and looking for submissions.
Hashimoto stunned Ito in the second minute, hurting him with a right cross. He was able to land some soccer kicks and a knee to the head of Ito as he shot for a takedown attempt.
Ito backed Hashimoto up and seemingly hurt him in the third minute, but Hashimoto regained momentum with a knee to the head knockdown.
Hashimoto then took the back of Ito to land punches and attempt rear naked choke submissions.
Ito finished the round with a good moment when back on the feet, attempting a guillotine choke while pulling guard.
Hashimoto dropped Ito again in the opening minute of the second round, getting him down with a right cross.
The fight went to the ground later in the round after Hashimoto had a failed takedown attempt. Ito scored with punches and knees from the back of Hashimoto before he applied a rear naked choke for the submission.
The fight was Ito’s first win in RIZIN since 2017. He had lost his two previous fights in the promotion, including a 2019 bout against Manel Kape.
Hashimoto was making his RIZIN debut. His short pro record has mostly taken place in regional Japanese promotion Fighting NEXUS, where he currently holds a flyweight belt.
Bout 1: Ryuya Okuwaki vs. Ryuto Oinuma (112 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Muay Thai Expert Okuwaki Wins In RIZIN Debut
Ryuya Okuwaki took a majority decision win over Ryuto Oinuma under kickboxing rules to open the card.
The three-round striking battle saw the fighters engage in a safe, yet fast-paced battle.
While the bout had special kickboxing rules that allowed elbows as well, most of the fight saw the fighters keep their distance and have a kick-heavy style of attack.
Okuwaki has extensive Muay Thai experience that includes fights in Thailand from 2016 to 2019 and numerous fights in Japanese promotion Battle of Muay Thai.
Oinuma had spent a large portion of his career in Japanese Muay Thai promotion REBELS.