“On The Prelims” usually focuses on the undercard fighters of a UFC or Bellator show, but this week it is Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN that gets the spotlight.
While RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve event doesn’t have anything billed as a preliminary card, they have two sets of fights on their card: 11 bouts that aired in the late afternoon to evening, and five that took place on primetime network TV in Japan.
Our focus will be on those early bouts, which included numerous big wins for JMMA prospects.
Izawa Pulls Off Largest Upset Of The Night? Month? Year?
DEEP Jewels Strawweight Champion Seika Izawa shocked the world on Friday night, scoring a second-round stoppage win over RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion Ayaka Hamasaki.
Entering the bout with only four previous fights, Izawa was certainly expected to lose to the champion. This fight would have likely been a respectable first loss for a prospect that has a bright future ahead of her.
But instead, it turned out to be an even bigger showcase than ever. Izawa proved to be aggressive while on her back, hurting Hamasaki with upkicks and searching for submissions. She was able to sweep Hamasaki with a triangle position, using that to transition into full mount and end the fight with punches.
The one caveat to this massive win is this: Hamasaki is still the face of the super atomweight division. Her bout was in a non-title fight, which means Izawa will have to fight her again if she wants to take the champion status. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw this fight booked once more in 2022.
Ota Proves He’s A Mixed Martial Artist
Former Greco-Roman Wrestling Olympian Shinobu Ota’s first two fights in MMA had a bad reception from viewers.
After losing his debut to Hideo Tokoro – a fighter who has fought in the sport for two decades – he bounced back with a sleepy wrestling-heavy decision win over Yuta Kubo.
But on Friday, Ota showed that he has picked up on the MMA style, providing a brutal stoppage win over journeyman Kazuma Sone that included soccer kicks and stomps.
Now, of course, Sone isn’t some wild challenge. He has lost more than he has won recently, and he is certainly past his prime. However, this fight was a reassuring sign that Ota is actually growing and has a future in the sport beyond being a pure wrestler.
What’s next for him? That’s hard to say. He’s still a pro fighter with only three wins. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get thrown to the wolves – again.
With Shades of His Father, Miura Showed Up
RIZIN loves testing out fighters who have notoriety but might not be successful. Former sumo wrestlers, former Olympians (as already noted), and family members to comedians – RIZIN has tried it all.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You’re certainly taking a gamble with a debuting fighter.
When Kota Miura, the son of famous footballer player Kazuyoshi Miura, fought on Friday, it was a success.
Miura showed he had clearly trained and taken MMA seriously, utilizing his grappling skills to keep opponent YUSHI in trouble for most of the fight. Taking a page out of his father’s profession, Miura landed a soccer kick to the body of YUSHI before stopping him with a punch late in the first round.
It will be interesting to see what’s next for Miura. No doubt he is destined to fight again, as he has shown he is serious about this.