RIZIN TRIGGER 1st Preview

Shoji gets his arm raised by a referee in the RIZIN ring.
Shoji will meet Kyohei Hagiwara in the main event of ‘RIZIN TRIGGER’ (RIZIN FF)

Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN will unveil a new spin-off series Sunday, presenting their first “TRIGGER” event from the Kobe World Memorial Hall in Kobe, Japan. The 14-fight card is the first of a new themed show from the promotion that aims to be the second brand to their numbered events that occur roughly six times a year.

Sunday’s show will be headlined by bantamweight veteran Shoji and explosive fighter Kyohei Hagiwara. They will be the final act in an evening that includes numerous MMA and kickboxing matchups.

Here’s a preview of it all.

Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (Live-Now / RIZIN Live)

Bout 1: Tsubasa Mori vs. FUJIMON♡ (121 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

In the first of four kickboxing bouts on the card, Tsubasa Mori and FUJIMON♡ will face off. FUJIMON♡ is a veteran of DEEP KICK, which is the offshoot kickboxing tour for MMA promotion DEEP Impact. Mori has fought around Japan’s regional kickboxing scene, including appearances in the Hoost Cup, NKB, and more.

Bout 2: Kenji Kato (12-7) vs. Katsuya Fujiwara (0-0) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Katsuya Fujiwara will make his pro MMA debut on Sunday, facing Kenji Kato in a bantamweight fight.

Kato will be making his third appearance in RIZIN. He scored his first victory for the promotion in his last appearance, defeating Erson Yamamoto in 2020. He has since remained active in Shooto Japan, where he has attained a win and a loss each this year.

There is nearly no information online about Fujiwara. MMA database Tapology has one amateur bout listed in his career, which was a 2019 victory.

Bout 3: Momoka vs. Miku (101 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

Returning in hopes of her first RIZIN victory, Momoka will fight Miku under kickboxing rules.

Momoka lost her RIZIN debut earlier this year, battling in a close three-round battle against Panchan Rina in September.

Miku last fought in September, losing a fight to Raiha Kamimura on a DEEP KICK card.

Bout 4: Hiroto Uchimura vs. Tepparith Joegym (134 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

In the other bantamweight kickboxing fight of the card, Hiroto Uchimura will fight Tepparith Joegym.

Like many people on this card, Uchimura has mostly competed in smaller kickboxing promotions in the country. He is coming off a loss that he took just two months back on a Resistance Kickboxing show.

Tepparith fought on a RISE Kickboxing card earlier this year, losing a bout against Masahiko Suzuki on scorecards.

Bout 5: Jin Mandokoro vs. Yu Hiramatsu (117 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

The kickboxing portion of the card will wrap up with a strawweight fight between Jin Mandokoro and Yu Hiramatsu.

Mandokoro may be a recognizable name to RIZIN viewers, as he has competed for the promotion twice before (once in 2017 and 2020 each). He has been successful in both appearances, including a win last year against Shuto Sato. He had a strong four fight winning streak snapped earlier this year, as he lost to Kazane on a RISE Kickboxing show.

Hiramatsu has scored a win and two losses in kickboxing this year. He is no stranger to kickboxing in a cage like he will on Sunday, as he fought Shoa Arii in the Shooto Japan cage in February.

Bout 6: Makoto Kamaya (29-16-4) vs. Daiki Lightyear (9-8-3) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Experienced bantamweights Makoto Kamaya and Daiki Lightyear will get their first appearance in the RIZIN cage this weekend.

Kamaya has fought in DEEP Impact for most of his pro career. He ended a two-year absence from competition recently, fighting Takeya Takemoto on a GLADIATOR card. While Takemoto secured a submission finish to their bout in the first round, the fight was ruled a no contest due to him missing weight.

Lightyear is a veteran of regional promotion Shooto Japan. He picked up a win in his sole appearance earlier this year, defeating Hiroki Takaoka on scorecards in July.

Bout 7: Keisuke Okuda (0-3) vs. Grant Bogdanove (1-0) (161 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Pro wrestler Keisuke Okuda will aim to score his first win in MMA when facing Grant Bogdanove.

Okuda is a frequent wrestler in Japanese promotion Dragon Gate. He has remained quite active recently in wrestling, having competed in 115 matches this year so far. He lost in his return to MMA earlier this year, getting finished within a round by Hiroaki Suzuki on the first RIZIN “LANDMARK” card. The bout was Okuda’s first MMA appearance since 2016.

Experienced grappler Bogdanove won his pro debut just months ago, securing a first-round submission victory over Kazuya Tanaka on a DEEP Impact card in June.

Bout 8: Chihiro Suzuki (5-3) vs. Sora Yamamoto (12-5-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Fighting to bounce back from a brutal loss in his last appearance, Chihiro Suzuki will face rising featherweight Sora Yamamoto.

Suzuki had a quick loss in his RIZIN debut in September, going just 20 seconds against Shoji before losing due to strikes. The fight was Suzuki’s return to MMA after a successful run in kickboxing from the past three years.

Yamamoto is getting the RIZIN opportunity after a strong five-fight winning streak on the regional scene. He handed Yasuyuki Nojiri his first pro loss just last month, defeating him on a collaborative card between Shooto Japan and ONE Championship.

Bout 9: Tatsuki Saomoto (16-2) vs. Takashi Matsuba (12-4-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Attempting to continue a winning run at flyweight, Tatsuki Saomoto will meet Takashi Matsuba on Sunday’s card.

Saomoto is currently on an astounding 12-fight winning streak. Most of those victories have come under ZST, although his last two bouts have been in RIZIN. His two fights for the promotion were last year, where he defeated Yusaku Nakamura and Pancrase veteran Daichi Kitakata.

Matsuba will be fighting to come back from a loss he took against Tomohiro Adaniya at Deep Impact’s 20th Anniversary card in February. Before then he had attained four consecutive wins.

Bout 10: Shian (8-9) vs. Uoi Fullswing (22-10-5) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Both needing a win, bantamweights Shian and Uoi Fullswing will fight on Sunday.

Shian will be competing to even his pro record, which currently sits at a negative eight wins and nine losses. His last fight, a loss, came against Takafumi Otsuka as part of the opening round in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix. He had earned his first win for the promotion earlier in the year, beating Kazuma Sone in just 27 seconds at RIZIN 27.

Fullswing will be aiming to end a losing streak that has lasted over three years. The veteran fighter took his fourth consecutive loss in March, dropping a fight on scorecards to Joji Goto at a Shooto Japan event.

Bout 11: Ryuichiro Sumimura (18-7-1) vs. Yusaku Kinoshita (4-0) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Undefeated welterweight Yusaku Kinoshita will get his first shot in the RIZIN cage when facing Ryuichiro Sumimura.

Kinoshita’s appearance gives him a chance to earn his fifth victory in his rookie year. He turned pro in late November 2020 and has scored four first-round finish wins on the regional scene since then. His last fight was in September, where he disposed of Kenta Takagi in just under two minutes via submission.

Kinoshita has faced experienced opponents before, but he has yet to face someone like Sumimura who has a solid record that is mostly wins. Sumimura has won his last four bouts, which mostly consists of DEEP Impact fights but also includes a 2020 victory over Let’s Gota in RIZIN.

Bout 12: Strasser Kiichi (19-9-2) vs. Takahiro Kawanaka (15-7) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Former UFC and Bellator fighter Strasser Kiichi (also known as Kiichi Kunimoto) will return to RIZIN Sunday when fighting Takahiro Kawanaka at welterweight.

Kiichi last fought in 2019, where he fell into a two-fight skid in Bellator. The five-fight UFC vet had a short RIZIN run between 2017 and 2018, defeating Satoru Kitaoka and Ryuichiro Sumimura through two appearances for the promotion.

Kawanaka will be making his first RIZIN appearance. The experienced fighter has spent the majority of his career in promotions DEEP Impact and GRACHAN. He is riding the success of a 50-second stoppage win he scored against Let’s Gota in August.

Bout 13: Yoshinori Horie (11-3) vs. Hirotaka Nakada (4-1) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)

The so-far flawless RIZIN run of former UFC fighter Yoshinori Horie could either continue or end in Sunday’s co-main event, facing Hirotaka Nakada at a catchweight of 150 pounds.

Horie has picked up two wins in RIZIN this year. After scoring a stoppage victory over Tetsuya Seki to start the year, Horie then went on to pick up a scorecard win over Ulka Sasaki recently.

Nakada is significantly less experienced than previous opponents of Horie. He has fought five times as a pro, having picked up four wins in that time. The active fighter secured up his third win of the year in September, defeating Ryo Asami at Pancrase 323. Not only would a victory on Sunday be Nakada’s fourth win of 2021, but it would be the biggest victory of his career thus far.

Bout 14: Shoji (19-14-1) vs. Kyohei Hagiwara (4-4) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

In a test between a veteran and an explosive finisher, Shoji will meet Kyohei Hagiwara in the main event of RIZIN’s first “TRIGGER” card.

Shoji has the momentum of a 20-second win he scored against Chihiro Suzuki  in September. Before then, the MMA veteran of over a decade had a two-fight losing streak going. His previous RIZIN bout was a stoppage loss against former RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura last year.

Hagiwara is best known for his 2020 run in RIZIN, where he scored three stoppage wins through four fights for the promotion. The relatively unknown fighter made a splash in his promotional debut at RIZIN 22 last year, stopping Rikuto Shirakawa late in the third round with strikes. After suffering a submission loss the next month, Hagiwara finished the year with explosive wins over Yojiro Uchimura and Ren Hiramoto.

Hagiwara is coming off a loss again on this card. He headlined RIZIN’s first “LANDMARK” event last month, dropping a unanimous decision to former featherweight title challenger Mikuru Asakura.

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