RIZIN 37 Preview

Seika Izawa gets her arm raised by the referee.
Seika Izawa will headline RIZIN 37 this weekend, competing in the opening round of the promotion’s super atomweight grand prix (RIZIN FF)

Since its launch in 2015, RIZIN has focused heavily on a select few divisions in MMA. Among them is super atomweight, a rare weight class that limits fighters to 108 pounds. That division will be the main focus once again on Sunday night when the promotion returns to the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan for RIZIN 37.

RIZIN will kick off an eight-woman super atomweight tournament this weekend. The bracket will include current divisional champ Seika Izawa, former titleholder Ayaka Hamasaki, previous grand prix winner Kanna Asakura, among the many names set to appear.

Here’s a preview of that tournament, plus all of the other fights expected to take place on Sunday evening.

Main Card (12:00AM EDT / 1:00PM JST) (RIZIN Live)

Bout 1: YUSHI (1-1) vs. Haruki (0-0) (137 lbs) (MMA Bout)

YUSHI will make his return to the flagship RIZIN brand this weekend when he faces Haruki.

YUSHI lost his first pro fight on New Year’s Eve last year, getting stopped by fellow newcomer Kota Miura. Despite his loss, YUSHI caught the attention of many for his charisma and flashy walkout. He also has quite the following online, currently possessing 127,000 followers on Instagram.

YUSHI scored his first win earlier this year on a RIZIN “LANDMARK” card, stopping Tony Tony Zenki in the second round with strikes.

Haruki will be debuting in this bout. Similar to YUSHI, he is coming from an entertainment background but has minimal experience in combat sports.

Bout 2: Hiroki Kasahara vs. Yusaku Ishizuki (138 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

While Sunday’s card is mostly MMA, there are a few kickboxing bouts in the lineup. In the first of two kickboxing matchups, Hiroki Kasahara and Yusaku Ishizuki will face off.

Kasahara is a veteran of Shoot Boxing. He has fought for them since 2015, and is currently on an extensive winning streak. His last fight came just last month, defeating Bazooka Koki via doctor stoppage.

Ishizuki is coming from RISE Kickboxing. He is currently on a two-fight skid, including a stoppage loss that he took against Hyuma earlier this year.

Bout 3: Ryusei vs. Kaishi (128 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)

In another matchup between kickboxers from different promotions, Ryusei and Kaishi will face off.

Ryusei is representing KNOCK OUT, where he has been undefeated since early 2021. His last fight was a split decision victory over Mehdi Jraifi in April.

Kaishi has fought around smaller kickboxing promotions in the country, including NJKF and Hoost Cup Kings. He will already be searching for his third win of 2022 in this fight.

Bout 4: Vugar Karamov (16-4) vs. Sora Yamamoto (16-6-2) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Vugar Karamov will face short-notice opponent Sora Yamamoto as part of Sunday’s card.

Karamov was originally scheduled to face Rikuto Shirakawa in the bout. However, after an injury forced Shirakawa off the card, Yamamoto stepped in.

Karamov is coming off his best RIZIN performance yet, submitting Taichi Nakajima in the first round with a triangle choke last year. That fight was his second win in the promotion since joining in early 2020.

Yamamoto will be searching for his second win of the month, and would be an astounding fifth win of the year already if he can pull it off. He appeared at RIZIN 36 in early July, beating Kyle Aguon on scorecards.

Bout 5: Marcos Yoshio Souza (9-2) vs. Daichi Abe (10-5) (176 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Marcos Yoshio Souza will return to the ring this weekend against Daichi Abe.

Souza briefly appeared for RIZIN in late 2019 and early 2020. He had a brutal loss in his promotional debut, getting finished early by UFC alum Keita Nakamura. His last fight, an appearance at RIZIN 21, saw him beat Falco Neto with punches.

Abe earned his first RIZIN win in March, defeating veteran Strasser Kiichi on scorecards.

Bout 6: Tetsuya Seki (15-8-1) vs. Yoshiki Nakahara (15-5) (150 lbs) (MMA Bout)

RIZIN newcomer Yoshiki Nakahara will face Tetsuya Seki in the next bout.

Nakahara will be making his RIZIN debut in this fight. He is making the move over to the promotion after a four-fight run with ONE Championship, earning three wins through four appearances.

Prior to then, Nakahara was a veteran of regional promotion Pancrase.

Seki has scored a pair of wins recently, including a victory against Akira Haruguchi at RIZIN’s “LANDMARK” card in May.

Bout 7: Yuki Motoya (30-10) vs. Shinobu Ota (2-1) (134 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Shinobu Ota will get the toughest test of his incredibly brief MMA career this weekend, facing Yuki Motoya at bantamweight.

Ota is a 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics silver medalist for Greco-Roman wrestling. He made his MMA debut on New Year’s Eve 2020, but wasn’t successful in that appearance. He has shown visible improvements in his last two fights, and has attained two wins over the past year.

Ota’s last fight was a finish victory due to strikes, putting Kazuma Sone away in December 2021.

This weekend is undoubtedly a big test for Ota. Motoya is not only an experienced name, but he has been successful in recent years. His two most recent RIZIN appearances have both been wins, defeating Kintaro and Alan Yamaniha in recent months.

Bout 8: Hideki Sekine (12-5) vs. Tsuyoshi Sudario (4-1) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)

In what feels like another step-up fight for a prospect on the card, heavyweight Tsuyoshi Sudario will face Hideki Sekine, who is one of the most experienced active heavyweights in the Japanese scene.

Sudario is a former sumo wrestler that has fought for RIZIN since 2020. He has been mostly successful, although many of his wins have come against inexperienced opponents. His sole setback was last year when Shoma Shibisai submitted him with a rear naked choke.

For the second time in his career, Sudario enters a fight against a talent that has won in recent bouts. Sekine is on a strong run currently, having scored four consecutive fights between DEEP Impact and RIZIN.

Bout 9: RENA (12-4) vs. Anastasiya Svetkivska (2-0) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final Bout)

The RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix will begin with a fight between RENA and Anastasiya Svetkivska.

The card this weekend will mark RENA’s official return to the division. While she has fought in RIZIN frequently in recent years, she has only competed above the super atomweight limit since 2019. Her previous attempt at making the 108-pound limit came in late 2018, causing her to get hospitalized at the time.

The veteran RIZIN and Shoot Boxing talent will be fighting to bounce back from an upset loss that she suffered on New Year’s Eve against Park Si-woo. Before then, she had a four-fight winning streak going.

Svetkivska has a short yet strong record. She competed as an amateur from 2018 to 2019, attaining eight wins through nine fights in that time. She has earned two more wins since debuting late last year, with both fights coming via finish.

Being so early in her career, a fight against RENA is a massive challenge for Svetkivska.

Bout 10: Kanna Asakura (19-6) vs. Park Si-woo (7-4) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final Bout)

Kanna Asakura and Park Si-woo will meet in the next tournament bout.

Asakura will be looking to repeat history in this bracket. The most prominent moment in her career thus far came in 2017, when she won the promotion’s first tournament at super atomweight. Her appearance in this bracket not only gives her the chance to gain notoriety from another grand prix win, but would bring her closer to her other goal, which is becoming a champion.

Asakura gained back some footing in her last fight, snapping a two-fight skid with a decision victory over veteran SARAMI.

Asakura will face Park, who is arguably a dark horse in this bracket. Park has fought frequently in DEEP Jewels since 2019 and has made a name for herself in that regional promotion. She also made a splash late last year, when she won her RIZIN debut against RENA.

Bout 11: Kota Miura (1-0) vs. Felipe Masoni (9-4) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Kota Miura will make his long-awaited return this weekend against Felipe Masoni.

This fight was first booked for a RIZIN card in May, but is coming to fruition now.

Miura is the son of famous footballer Kazuyoshi Miura. He has also gained quite a bit of popularity by himself, earning over 660,000 followers on Instagram and being the face of many viral TikTok videos. In a sense, his high-up placement on this card could reflect how he is being viewed in terms of importance by RIZIN.

Miura won his pro debut on New Year’s Eve last year, stopping YUSHI in the first round with strikes.

He will now face Masoni, a talent that has 13 fights as a pro. He is coming off a lengthy layoff, having last competed in April 2019. Not only that, but he is also on a two-fight skid at the moment. However, he does have an experience edge that will provide a test for Miura this weekend.

Bout 12: Johnny Case (27-8-1) vs. Koji Takeda (13-3) (159 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Both fighting to return to the win column, Johnny Case and Koji Takeda will meet on Sunday night.

Case made his return to RIZIN in April, challenging Roberto Satoshi Souza for his lightweight belt. The grappling skills of Souza were on display in that fight, as he caught Case early with an armbar to end their bout.

Takeda was also submitted last time around, losing to UFC alum Spike Carlyle at RIZIN 35.

Bout 13: Hideo Tokoro (35-30-2) vs. Makoto Shinryu (13-1-1) (126 lbs) (MMA Bout)

Flyweight prospect Makoto Shinryu will get a big test on Sunday night, facing veteran Hideo Tokoro.

Shinryu has slowly attained an impressive pro record since debuting in 2016. He mainly fights in regional promotion DEEP Impact, where he has scored 10 wins through 12 bouts.

Shinryu is returning to RIZIN for the first time in nearly two years. His last fight for the promotion came in August 2020, when he submitted Seiichiro Ito.

Tokoro has fought as a pro for more than two decades now. His last pro appearance dates back to late 2020 when he submitted Shinobu Ota in his pro debut.

Bout 14: Ayaka Hamasaki (23-5) vs. Jessica Aguilar (20-9) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final Bout)

Former RIZIN titleholder Ayaka Hamasaki will start her tournament run against veteran Jessica Aguilar in the co-main event spot of the card.

Hamasaki and Aguilar have an interesting history that goes back more than a decade. Most notably, they were set to face off in 2011 on a JEWELS card. That fight never happened, as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake forced that event to get canceled and prevented that matchup from happening.

Hamasaki will be appearing for the first time since losing her super atomweight belt. She dropped the title in April to Seika Izawa, losing a unanimous decision to her and suffering defeat for the second consecutive time.

Aguilar will be searching for her first win since a UFC run from 2015 to 2019. She lost in her return to the regional scene in late 2020, suffering a split decision defeat to Danielle Taylor.

Bout 15: Seika Izawa (6-0) vs. Laura Fontoura (7-0) (RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand Prix Quarter-Final Bout)

Appearing for the first time as the RIZIN Super Atomweight Champion, undefeated Seika Izawa will take on Laura Fontoura in the opening round of the promotion’s 108-pound bracket.

Izawa’s rise to the top of the super atomweight division has been quick. She only debuted in 2020 but has already scored six wins and become champion. She made a statement on New Year’s Eve last year when she scored a second-round finish win against then-champion Ayaka Hamasaki. While that fight was a non-title bout, Izawa returned this year to defeat Hamasaki again and take the title.

Now on top of the division, Izawa has to maintain her status as the best name in the weight class.

Fontoura is a promotional newcomer with seven wins as a pro. While the consistency of seven wins is notable, it’s also worth mentioning that many victories have come against opponents with little experience or low amounts of success. Her last fight came against RIZIN alum Andy Nguyen in January, submitting her in the fourth round of a title bout.

RIZIN’s super atomweight division has many stars in it currently, and the bracket is a testament to that. By the end of the tournament, one name will be above them all. Will it be Izawa, a talent who has had a bold but short impact on the division thus far? Will it be a wildcard newcomer, or a rising prospect? Will it be a more established name that looks to reclaim their status or finally stake their claim as the best in their division? This will all be decided over the course of the year.

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