Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN will kick off their 2022 schedule on Wednesday night with their second-ever “TRIGGER” card. The event is set to take place in a cage and showcase some of the lesser-known – or in some cases near unknown – names from the MMA world in Japan.
The event has a high-profile fight set for the main event, as Ulka Sasaki will search for his first featherweight win against rising contender Kleber Koike. It’s set to be the main event for a card at the Ecopa Arena in Shizuoka, Japan.
Here’s a preview of the entire event.
Main Card (12:00AM EST / 2:00PM JST) (RIZIN Live / Live-Now)
Bout 1: Yudai Ito vs. Momoto (132 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
In the first of five kickboxing bouts on the card, Yudai Ito and Momoto will meet at bantamweight. A trend will be seen with many of these earlier fights on the card, where a lot of the names are making their first major appearance in combat sports.
This is one of those fights that is honestly hard to say much about, as there is little information on either fighter online. Ito is a young fighter, still 20 years old. Momoto has fought under kickboxing for DEEP Impact at least once, losing to Kota Nakagawa last year.
Bout 2: Kota Nakagawa vs. Taiki (130 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Kickboxers Kota Nakagawa and Taiki will meet next.
Many might recognize Taiki for his time in RISE Kickboxing, competing on their roster from 2017 to 2020. His more recent appearances have been on a smaller stage, fighting in DEEP KICK and Shooto Japan last year.
Similarly, Nakagawa has fought in smaller promotions throughout Japan. He has competed around the scene for a few years, appearing in places like Bigbang, Hoost Cup and DEEP.
Bout 3: Masanari vs. Taiki Matsui (128 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
In the third kickboxing matchup, Taiki Matsui and Masanari will square off.
Matsui is coming off an electric year on the regional scene where he scored five wins, per database Tapology. This includes an appearance in RISE Kickboxing five months ago, where he beat Shintaro Kawazu.
There is little information online regarding Masanari. He appeared late last year at a Hoost Cut event, losing a decision to Ryuichi Nakano.
Bout 4: Yuuki Kitagawa vs. Koki Takeuchi (143 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Returning to RIZIN for the second time, Yuuki Kitagawa will meet Koki Takeuchi in a kickboxing bout.
Kitagawa suffered a knockout loss in his 2020 RIZIN debut, getting stopped in the second round of a fight by Taishi Hiratsuka. He has since scored two wins in HEAT, stopping an opponent and losing a decision in 2021.
Takeuchi, a fighter making his RIZIN debut, is entering the promotion following experience in RISE Kickboxing, DEEP Kick and Hoost Cup.
Bout 5: Takuma Uchiyama (2-3) vs. Kotetsu Hara (2-1) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
In the first MMA bout of the night, Takuma Uchiyama and Kotetsu Hara will meet.
This fight gives Uchiyama a chance to even his pro record, which is currently a negative two wins and one loss. He is riding the momentum of a submission win that he scored on a DEEP card last year.
Hara took his first pro loss in his last appearance, losing a decision to Hikaru Yoshino last summer.
Bout 6: Katsushi Kojima (12-5-1) vs. Kouki Nakagawa (7-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Coming off a successful 2021, Katsushi Kojima will face Kouki Nakagawa in the next fight.
Kojima scored three wins last year in Grachan. Two of these victories came via first-round stoppage, with the other being a decision win.
Nakagawa has not been producing similar results as of late. The Hyogo-based fighter has lost his last two fights, including a decision loss just last month against Shoichi Tomita.
Bout 7: Daisuke Endo (18-12-2) vs. Hikaru Yoshino (10-2) (137 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Veteran Daisuke Endo will get his first RIZIN appearance when meeting Hikaru Yoshino on Wednesday night.
Endo has fought as a pro since 2007. Most of his career has taken place in DEEP Impact, including a three-fight winning streak that he attained from 2017 to 2019. Wednesday will be the 39-year-old’s first appearance in over two years.
Yoshino had a successful 2021, defeating Shohei Nose and Kotetsu Hara on regional cards.
Bout 8: Katsutoshi Sasada vs. Mountain Ryugo (220 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
In a rare kickboxing bout above 200 pounds, Katsutoshi Sasada and Mountain Ryugo will battle.
The fight will easily be the biggest fight in both fighters’ careers thus far. Katsutoshi has mostly fought on small-scale shows throughout Japan in recent years. Similarly, Ryugo has made appearances in DEEP, Hoost Cup and Shoot Boxing cards.
Bout 9: Kohei Tokeshi (6-8) vs. Harry Stallone (2-4) (161 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Both fighting to come back from a loss, Kohei Tokeshi and Harry Stallone will fight next.
Tokeshi lost in his return to MMA in November, getting stopped in the first round of a fight against Juri Ohara at RIZIN 32. That was his first MMA bout since 2017, although he had remained active since then through lethwei and Muay Thai fights.
Stallone has won two fights through six appearances in DEEP Impact. His last fight was in late 2021, where he lost to Ryuji Takashio on scorecards.
Bout 10: Suguru Nii (12-11) vs. Sora Yamamoto (12-6-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
In another fight between competitors coming off a loss, Suguru Nii and Sora Yamamoto have been paired up.
Yamamoto lost his RIZIN debut in November of last year, as Chihiro Suzuki beat him via unanimous decision. He had a strong five-fight winning streak on the regional scene prior to that defeat.
Nii is on a two-fight losing streak that includes a RIZIN appearance from last year. The experienced fighter was submitted by fellow veteran Daisuke Nakamura in October, getting stopped in the third minute due to an armbar.
Bout 11: Akira (16-8-4) vs. Takumi Suzuki (11-5) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Riding recent momentum, Akira will face Takumi Suzuki.
Akira is an experienced fighter from regional promotion Pancrase. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak that exclusively includes finish wins. The last victory was at RIZIN 31 last year, where he submitted Daichi Abe.
Akira’s recent success is a significant turnaround compared to his four-fight losing streak from 2018 to 2020.
Suzuki is coming off a busy 2021 that saw him win two fights and lose one via decision. His last victory came in October, where he stopped veteran Satoru Kitaoka on a DEEP Impact card.
Bout 12: Kenji Kato (13-7) vs. Kazuma Kuramoto (8-2) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Kenji Kato and Kazuma Kuramoto will serve as the co-main event on Wednesday night.
Kuramoto is coming off a loss in the 2021 RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix. He had a hard battle in the opening round of the bracket, dropping a unanimous decision to Alan Yamaniha. He had an explosive promotional debut before then, scoring a soccer kick finish over Taiyo Nakahara.
Kato picked up a stoppage win at RIZIN’s first “TRIGGER” card last year, stopping pro debutant Katsuya Fujiwara. That was his third appearance in RIZIN, moving his promotional record to two wins and one loss.
Bout 13: Kleber Koike (28-5-1) vs. Ulka Sasaki (23-9-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Hoping to continue his thus far unstoppable RIZIN run, Kleber Koike will meet Ulka Sasaki in the main event of Wednesday’s show.
Koike has scored three submission wins since joining RIZIN in late 2020. He is part of the wave of fighters representing the Bonzai Jiu-Jitsu gym that has seen success as of late – this includes other names like Alan Yamaniha and Roberto Satoshi Souza.
Koike’s biggest win was his last appearance, where he choked out Mikuru Asakura in the main event of RIZIN 28 last year.
While this upcoming fight isn’t for the belt, it could certainly make Koike next in line for a title shot.
Sasaki is still trying to find his footing at featherweight. The former flyweight and bantamweight veteran lost his debut at the weight class last year, dropping a decision to fellow UFC alum Yoshinori Horie.
With the weight class move aside, Sasaki will be trying to turn around what has been a tough run with RIZIN so far. Since joining the promotion in late 2018, Sasaki has put together two wins and three losses. He had to sit out the majority of 2020 after suffering a jaw injury in a 2019 fight against Kai Asakura.
While things haven’t been going too well for Sasaki in recent years, a win on Wednesday could wipe all of that away.