JMMA Monday: Final Thoughts Before ‘LANDMARK’, Announcement of ‘THE MATCH’ Projects

Welcome to the latest edition of “JMMA Monday,” the weekly column where we discuss the biggest topics in Japanese MMA. I have a couple of things to talk about, along with other news and notes from the week.

Some Final Thoughts Before ‘LANDMARK’

Kyohei Hagiwara hugs Hiroaki Suzuki after the end of a fight in the RIZIN ring.
Kyohei Hagiwara can play spoiler this Thursday (RIZIN FF)

RIZIN is back this week with a brief “LANDMARK” card on Thursday. This show has already been discussed quite a bit in this column, in-part due to the fact that not much else is going on right now. Here’s some of my final thoughts before the event goes down.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way… Firstly, for international viewers: it looks quite certain that an English broadcast won’t happen. It’s still possible to watch the pay-per-view on RIZIN’s service, but the English feed won’t be an option, it seems.

More bad news, prospect Kota Miura is off the card. He was scheduled to get a massive step-up opponent in Felipe Masoni. Sure, Miura is a pro with just one fight, but he was arguably one of the most interesting fighters heading into the card. His departure from the lineup certainly takes something out of it.

Two outcomes could emerge from the main event. If Kleber Koike comes up successful, we’ll be wondering what’s left for him but a title fight – something he was arguably more than eligible for before this booking anyway. If Kyohei Hagiwara pulls off a win, it will entirely shake up the featherweight division and shoot him to the top. Of course, if the wording of that sentence doesn’t give it away, the odds are quite stacked against him.

We know how great Koike is as a grappler, putting away every opponent he has faced in RIZIN thus far. If Hagiwara can win, he’ll have to do so by landing something on the feet and causing a sudden end to the fight – something he has certainly done before.

I’m curious to see how RIZIN newcomer Akira Haraguchi will do when he faces Tetsuya Seki. I’m also interested in how Yushi will perform in his second appearance. And if he puts on a disappointing performance, at least he’ll have the euphoric entrance to show us beforehand.

This show isn’t anything major, but it might be the last thing we get for a few weeks… I don’t know when the next RIZIN event is, but I presume we’re getting a short break soon after the blast of events that kicked off the year. I could be entirely wrong though, so take this with a grain of salt. I’ll look dumb if RIZIN 36 gets announced next week.

It will be interesting to see what headlines can emerge from this short blast of fights on Thursday.

Projects For ‘The Match’

Tenshin Nasukawa walks to the RIZIN ring.
Tenshin Nasukawa is one-half of “THE MATCH.” (RIZIN FF)

Knockdown News is doing two projects related to the upcoming fight between Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Takeru. I’m happy to announce these, and I hope you like the ideas. The first one will need your help (yes, you!).

Knockdown News is doing a “Time Capsule” project related to “The Match.” We’re looking to capture the opinions of kickboxing viewers around the world in the lead-up to this fight. We want to hear what you think this fight means in the grand scheme of things, and what it means to you.

Do you feel a certain way about the fight? The ruleset? One of the fighters? Will you be watching? Attending? The floor is yours to say whatever you want about the fight (within reason, of course).

Here’s how it works. Direct Messages (also known as DMs) are open for everyone on the @KnockdownNews Twitter page. We ask that in roughly 100 words (feel free to do more or less), you tell us what you think about this fight. Anything relevant to the matchup is accepted. Responses will be put together into a collage that will get released during fight week in June. Your display name/handle on Twitter will be credited for your quotes (unless you indicate in your message that you would like to be referred to by another name).

If you don’t have Twitter but would like to contribute, shoot me an email: jackwannancanada@gmail.com. Please put subject line as “THE MATCH THOUGHTS.”

I’m really excited to see people’s thoughts. This community has a great, diverse amount of opinions and I hope this project can showcase that.

And here’s my other project: Over the next month or so, I’m doing a survey with one simple question: Tenshin vs. Takeru: Who wins? I’m going to be asking 100 prominent names in kickboxing for their prediction, and in the end a poll will be published. This project will quietly be done over the next few weeks, but I’ll provide updates on how its going in this blog.

I really hope these projects can turn out interesting for you readers. For now, all I can say is stay tuned!

Other Notes From The Week

  • Pancrase had an event on April 29th from the Tachikawa Stage Garden in Tokyo, Japan. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:
    • Tokitaka Nakanishi won the promotion’s four-man featherweight tournament, scoring a first-round finish victory against Tatsuhiko Iwamoto.
    • Yuki Kondo, who has been fighting longer than some of us have been alive, won. He went the distance against Kazuhito Suzuki for his… Wait for it.. 63rd professional victory. Wow!
    • Prospect watch! Rei Tsuruya (who headlined the show), Yusaku Kinoshita, Ryo Takagi and Hisashi Ezaki all scored wins on the card. Big names moving up in their respective divisions…
    • GONG’s full report is here.
  • DEEP Jewels unveiled matchups for their May 8th card.
    • The Flyweight Grand Prix will conclude in May. That’s right, the semi-finals and finals will take place in the same night. Rin Nakai takes on Te-A, and Shizuka Suigyama will face Aoi Kuriyama. If the favorites prevail, that means we could get a pretty big flyweight collision between Nakai and Sugiyama in the main event of the card.
    • As previously mentioned in this column, Saori Oshima will look to defend her belt against Moeri Suda on that show.
    • Pancrase vet Yoko Higashi will face KING Reina in a rematch, this time for the vacant DEEP Jewels Featherweight Championship. Higashi prevailed via decision when they met for the first time last year.
    • The card has eight bouts in total. More details in the report from GONG.
  • Former Flyweight King of Pancrase Kiyotaka Shimizu is set to retire at the promotion’s July 18th event. Shimizu, 38, has picked up 24 wins since debuting in 2008. Opponent has yet to be confirmed for July.
  • The International Report™ 
    • Tough Start: Ryoji Kudo started his 2022 PFL run with a loss. He suffered a technical decision defeat against Brendan Loughnane as part of Thursday’s card. Their fight went to scorecards in the third round after a nasty (accidental) head collision took Kudo out of the bout.
    • Not So Fast: What was supposed to be one of the biggest JMMA headlines coming out of the weekend didn’t come to fruition. On Saturday, highly-touted undefeated Shooto Japan prospect Tatsuro Taira was set to make his UFC debut against Carlos Canderlario. However, on short-notice that bout was removed from the lineup. The caveat? It’s still expected to happen, just on May 14th this time.
    • A Long Time Coming: Former UFC fighter Teruto Ishihara picked up his first win since 2018 on Sunday night, defeating Jose Hernandez in the main event of Uriah Faber’s first A1 MMA event. Ishihara’s previous appearances resulted in five losses and one draw.
    • Looking Ahead: There’s actually not many JMMA names competing internationally this week… I dug up a couple: RIZIN 18 alum Yves Landu is returning for his third Bellator appearance on Friday, facing Gavin Hughes. And on Saturday, Pride FC veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is back at UFC 274…
  • This somehow went under my radar last week… Bellator Featherweight Champion wants to fight in Japan… And she wants KING Reina.

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