Yusuke Yachi will challenge for a belt for the first time in his RIZIN career later this month, facing Roberto Satoshi Souza for the RIZIN Lightweight Championship at the promotion’s New Year’s Eve card.
The fight was one of six unveiled at a press conference Thursday. The new fights are expected to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The title shot, which is also a rematch, is set to be the end of a year-long campaign that Yachi has done in RIZIN, fighting to rally momentum in the division after falling into an extensive slump in previous years.
Yachi beat two domestic champions on shows earlier in the year. In June, he beat then-Shooto Japan Lightweight Champion Yuki Kawana on scorecards. He returned three months later to pick up a win over DEEP Impact Lightweight Champion Koji Takeda, who entered the appearance on a four-fight winning streak.
Yachi previously fought Souza in August 2020, getting stopped in the second minute due to strikes.
Souza has only continued his dominance in the promotion since then, picking up two more finish wins. He became the inaugural RIZIN Lightweight Champion in June, stopping Tofiq Musayev with a triangle choke in the second minute.
Souza’s appearance on RIZIN 33 was announced last week, although his opponent was unknown at the time.
Champion Hamasaki Returns, But In Non-Title Fight Appearance
RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki will compete on New Year’s Eve, although she won’t have to worry about losing her champion status. The veteran is set to meet undefeated prospect Seika Izawa in a non-title fight, as announced Thursday.
Hamasaki is currently on a strong four-fight winning streak that includes two title fights. She defended her belt for the first time during this reign in March, defeating Kanna Asakura via split decision outcome.
Hamasaki has since also picked up a win over Emi Fujino recently.
Izawa, the current DEEP Jewels Strawweight Champion, will be making her RIZIN debut. She moved her pro record to an undefeated four wins just two months back, defeating Park Si-woo at DEEP Impact 104.
Former Champ Saito To Rematch Asakura
RIZIN star Mikuru Asakura will have the chance to get back a win on New Year’s Eve when he faces former featherweight champion Yutaka Saito.
Saito first met Asakura in 2020, overcoming him in a close decision to be crowned the first RIZIN Featherweight Champion. He is now coming off a loss, as a doctor stoppage against Juntaro Ushiku in October forced him to lose his title.
Asakura has fought three times since their first meeting, attaining two wins and one loss. He returned to the win column in October, defeating Kyohei Hagiwara at the promotion’s first “LANDMARK” card.
Kickboxers Under MMA Rules Return
Two former kickboxers coming off their first MMA victories respectively are booked for New Year’s Eve.
Former Shoot Boxer and ONE Championship Muay Thai fighter Hiroaki Suzuki has been booked to face Kyohei Hagiwara at featherweight.
Suzuki won his MMA debut in October, defeating winless pro wrestler Keisuke Nakamura with first-round ground and pound.
Hagiwara is a tough test for Suzuki, having picked up four wins since joining RIZIN last year. Hagiwara fought just last month in the main event of RIZIN’s first “TRIGGER” show, beating veteran Shoji.
RISE Kickboxer BeyNoah is also set to compete, facing Koji Takeda.
BeyNoah earned his first MMA victory at RIZIN 32 last month, mounting a comeback against Daryl Lokoku to earn a third-round stoppage win.
Takeda, the current DEEP Lightweight Champion, took just his second pro loss earlier this year.
Heavyweights Shibisai and Sekine Matched
Two of Japan’s more experienced heavyweights will meet in late December, as Hideki Sekine and Shoma Shibisai are expected to clash.
Shibisai has fought on and off in RIZIN since 2019, attaining three stoppage wins in that time. He handed former sumo wrestler Tsuyoshi Sudario his first pro loss in June, securing a late rear naked choke submission for a win.
Sekine, 48, has been fighting since 2009. He enters New Year’s Eve with the momentum of two recent wins in DEEP Impact, having beat Seigo Mizuguchi and Keisuke Nakamura in recent months.
It was previously announced that the final two rounds of the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix would take place at RIZIN 33. Here is how the updated card looks:
Bout 10: TBA vs. TBA (RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix Final)
Bout 9: Roberto Satoshi Souza (12-1) vs. Yusuke Yachi (23-11) (RIZIN Lightweight Championship)
Bout 8: Yutaka Saito (20-5-2) vs. Mikuru Asakura (15-3) (145 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 7: Ayaka Hamasaki (23-3) vs. Seika Izawa (4-0) (108 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 6: Kyohei Hagiwara (5-4) vs. Hiroaki Suzuki (1-0) (145 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 5: Koji Takeda (12-2) vs. BeyNoah (1-1) (156 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Bout 4: Shoma Shibisai (7-2) vs. Hideki Sekine (10-5) (264 lbs) (MMA Bout)
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)