RIZIN Unveils Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final Matchups For 2021 New Year’s Eve Card

Kai Asakura smiles while holding a microphone and wearing red RIZIN gloves.
Kai Asakura is one of four semi-finalists in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix (RIZIN FF)

The semi-final matchups for the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix are set.

RIZIN revealed semi-final matchups Tuesday for their tournament, which is set to have its final two rounds play out on New Year’s Eve at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

In the first of two semi-final bouts, former RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura will face tournament underdog Kenta Takizawa.

Asakura opened his tournament run with a dominant win in June, stopping Shooto Watanabe within a round with strikes. He returned three months later to pick up a decision victory over Alan Yamaniha.

Takizawa entered the bracket on a losing streak but has since been on a strong run. After defeating veteran Masakazu Imanari at RIZIN 29, Takizawa scored a first-round stoppage upset win in the tournament’s quarter-finals against Yuki Motoya.

The other semi-final bout will see rising bantamweight Naoki Inoue face Hiromasa Ougikubo.

Inoue has picked up five wins since debuting in RIZIN last year. This includes victories he scored earlier in the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix against Shintaro Ishiwatari and Kintaro.

Ougikubo, a former title challenger in RIZIN, has advanced through the bracket with scorecard victories over Takeshi Kasugai and Takafumi Otsuka.

A reserve bout for the tournament between Yuki Motoya and Kintaro was announced Tuesday. The winner of the bout will be eligible to compete later that night in the finals of the bracket if an injury or other circumstances pull a finalist from the bout.

It was also revealed Monday that RIZIN Lightweight Champion Roberto Satoshi Souza will compete on December 31st – although it was not mentioned who he will face.

Satoshi Souza earned the vacant belt in June, securing a quick triangle choke submission win against Tofiq Musayev.

Updated Lineup

Bout 4: TBA vs. TBA (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Final)

Bout 3: Yuki Motoya (28-10) vs. Kintaro (14-10-2) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Alternate Bout

Bout 2: Hiromasa Ougikubo (23-5-2) vs. Naoki Inoue (15-2) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

Bout 1: Kai Asakura (18-3) vs. Kenta Takizawa (13-7) (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Semi-Final)

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