Grappling ace Kleber Koike will get his first crack at a RIZIN belt this weekend, facing featherweight titleholder Juntaro Ushiku on Sunday. Their fight is scheduled to headline RIZIN 39, which will take place at the Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A in Fukuoka, Japan.
The card also includes the return of many notable RIZIN names. This includes Tsuyoshi Sudario, Yusuke Yachi, Koji Takeda, Daichi Abe, and more.
Follow along throughout the evening for updates on the event.
Main Card (1:00AM EDT / 2:00PM JST) (FITE / RIZIN Live)
Bout 12: Juntaro Ushiku (22-8-1) vs. Kleber Koike (30-5-1) (RIZIN Featherweight Championship)
Koike Submits Ushiku With Triangle Choke To Earn RIZIN Featherweight Championship
Kleber Koike reached the top of his RIZIN campaign in Sunday’s main event, submitting Juntaro Ushiku to become the promotion’s new featherweight champion.
Koike caught Ushiku in the second round with a triangle choke. He held the submission for roughly a minute, making some adjustments before a tap emerged from Ushiku.
The submission came after a competitive round of battle between the featherweights. Koike displayed his expected grappling skills, attempting numerous submissions in the opening frame, but Ushiku was able to defend and even counter with his own attacks at points.
Koike became an undeniable contender for the RIZIN Featherweight Championship in recent years, attaining a five-fight winning streak from late 2020 to mid-2022. Sunday was the sixth consecutive time that Koike won a fight via submission in RIZIN.
Ushiku was RIZIN’s second featherweight champion. He earned the belt in 2021, as a doctor stoppage took opponent Yutaka Saito out of their fight in the second round.
Ushiku defended his belt once, defeating Saito in a rematch this year.
Bout 11: Tsuyoshi Sudario (5-1) vs. Janos Csukas (7-0) (265 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Sudario Hands Csukas First Pro Loss
Tsuyoshi Sudario’s career of finishes continued in Sunday’s co-main event, as he handed Janos Csukas his first pro loss with a second round finish.
Sudario scored a knockdown early in the second round, getting Csukas to the ground with a hard right hook. This punch caught Csukas off guard, as it landed while he was returning to his feet from a slip.
Sudario pounced on Csukas on the ground afterward, landing large and winding ground and pound shots along with a knee to the head that made the referee stop the fight.
Sudario’s record is now a strong six wins and one loss. His other fight this year was a fast victory, stopping veteran Hideki Sekine in just 53 seconds with strikes.
Csukas was entering RIZIN with a flawless record of seven victories – all of which saw him finish the fight in the first round due to strikes.
Bout 10: Yusuke Yachi (23-13) vs. Boyd Allen (16-4-1) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Yachi Returns With Decision Against Allen
Yusuke Yachi secured his first win in over a year this Sunday, executing a safe game plan against Boyd Allen to win on scorecards.
Yachi used ground control to stop Allen from attacking him. He took the experienced lightweight down in every round and kept a dominant position over him.
While Yachi’s striking output was low in these instances, he would periodically score blows against Allen on the ground.
The fight was Yachi’s first win since September 2021. He has been finished in his past two fights, not prevailing in rematches against Roberto Satoshi Souza and Luiz Gustavo.
Allen is an experienced MMA fighter from South Africa. While he competed in MMA once last year, he has mostly spent recent years fighting in boxing matches.
Bout 9: Koji Takeda (14-3) vs. Zach Zane (15-13) (157 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Takeda Submits Zane Early
Koji Takeda had a quick victory on Sunday night, submitting Zach Zane in the first round with an armbar.
Takeda used his grappling skills to control Zane in the opening round. He searched for an armbar for the better part of the minute before a tap eventually emerged from Zane.
Takeda was already coming off the momentum of a big win from July, prevailing over Johnny Case in a unanimous decision result.
Zane has been incredibly unsuccessful in 2022, having now lost five consecutive fights via finish. The Bellator vet was making his first RIZIN appearance in this bout.
Bout 8: Shinji Sasaki (20-12-3) vs. Sho Patrick Usami (4-1) (165 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Usami Wins In RIZIN Debut
Sho Patrick Usami earned a finish win in his first RIZIN appearance, stopping experienced talent Shinji Sasaki in the third round with punches.
Usami rocked Sasaki with a left hook during a boxing exchange in the final round. He followed up on this shot with a combination of punches, including a right hook that sent Sasaki to the canvas. The referee was quick to step in and end the fight after.
Usami struggled against Sasaki before the finish. Sasaki controlled most of the first round in ground positions and was a challenge for Usami on the feet in the second round.
Usami, a pro of just six fights in total, was fighting in RIZIN for the first time.
Usami was expected to compete in the “Road To UFC” tournament this year, fighting in an eight-man bracket that had a grand prize of a UFC contract. However, after having a botched weight cut for his quarter-final bout against Anshul Jubli, Usami was removed from the tournament.
Shinji is an MMA vet of nearly two decades. He was coming off a successful 2021, which saw him score two wins on the regional scene.
Bout 7: Daichi Abe (11-5) vs. Yukinari Tamura (16-13-9) (170 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Abe Out-Lands Tamura For Decision Win
Daichi Abe picked up another win at welterweight on Sunday, going the distance against experienced opponent Yukinari Tamura for a decision victory.
Abe had the better moments throughout the three-round fight, landing the more impactful shots during stand-up exchanges. Tamura was never significantly hurt during the fight, but it was clear throughout that he was lagging behind Abe in striking positions.
Abe has now won three consecutive fights in RIZIN. His previous victories came against Strasser Kiichi and Marcos Yoshio Souza.
Tamura, a 41-year-old veteran, was making his first appearance in RIZIN this weekend. He made his return to action earlier this year, competing for the first time in nearly three years when he beat Souki Toyama on a Shooto Torao card.
Bout 6: Genji Umeno vs. Trent Girdham (134 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Umeno Lands Leg Kick Against Girdham For Quick Win
Genji Umeno caused an early injury to Trent Girdham in their kickboxing bout, forcing their fight to end in the first round.
Umeno kicked the lead leg of Girdham while he advanced with an attack in the first round. This kick was enough to cause Girdham to fall to the canvas, grimacing in pain. The fight was stopped immediately.
Umeno was making his second RIZIN appearance of the year. His prior fight saw him lose a majority decision to Kouzi. He earned another win on the regional scene since then, beating Shoji Otani on a KNOCK OUT card in July.
Girdham was carried off on a gurney due to the injury. He was making his return to RIZIN in the bout, coming back after a run of boxing fights from 2020 to 2022.
Girdham’s previous RIZIN fight was in their MMA rules, where he lost a decision to Naoki Inoue.
Bout 5: Takahiro Ashida (25-12-2) vs. Hirotaka Nakada (5-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Ashida Snaps RIZIN Losing Streak
Takahiro Ashida picked up his first RIZIN victory in over two years this weekend, beating Hirotaka Nakada on scorecards.
While Nakada had control time throughout the fight, it was the striking of Ashida that earned him the win. He caused bruising and cuts to the face of Ashida throughout the bout, leaving a clear visual by the end of the bout on who did more damage.
Ashida has struggled in RIZIN during recent years. His two more recent appearances in the promotion prior to Sunday were losses to Masanori Kanehara and Kyle Aguon.
Ashida’s previous fight, not in RIZIN, was a win over veteran Masakazu Imanari on a DEEP Impact card in August.
Nakada, a Pancrase fighter, has now lost in both of his RIZIN appearances. His prior fight in the promotion was a decision loss to Yoshinori Horie in 2021.
Bout 4: Yoshiki Nakahara (16-5) vs. Akira Haraguchi (7-3) (146 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Nakahara Finishes Short-Notice Opponent Haraguchi For Second RIZIN Win
Former ONE Championship fighter Yoshiki Nakahara picked up his second RIZIN victory this weekend, making quick work of Akira Haraguchi.
A brutal series of strikes from Nakahara caused the fight to end in the first round.
Nakahara first dropped Haraguchi after scoring with an elbow from a clinch position. His attack continued as the fight hit the canvas, as he landed ground and pound shots from the back of Haruguchi.
Nakahara finished the fight by returning to his feet and landing a couple of soccer kicks to the still-grounded Haraguchi.
Nakahara won his RIZIN debut in July, scoring a decision victory against Tetsuya Seki. Prior to his RIZIN campaign, he had a four-fight run for ONE Championship.
Haraguchi was a short-notice opponent for this card, stepping in to replace Vugar Karamov.
Haruguchi was coming off a recent victory from regional promotion GLADIATOR.
Bout 3: Motonobu Tezuka (34-14-6) vs. Mehman Mamedov (5-5) (135 lbs) (MMA Bout)
Veteran Tezuka Stops Mamedov In The First
Veteran Motonobu Tezuka spoiled the RIZIN debut of Mehman Mamedov on Sunday night, using elbows on the ground to end the fight.
Tezuka trapped the head of Mamedov in a triangle position while on his back in the first round. He held this position for numerous minutes, landing elbows on the head of Mamedov the entire time. While these shots were not particularly hard, the sum of them caused the referees to stop the fight.
The fight put Tezuka back into the win column after suffering a submission loss to Alan Yamaniha in March.
Mamedov was appearing in RIZIN for the first time. He had a small amount of experience prior to this bout, having won just five of his 10 pro fights.
Bout 2: Shogo Kuriaki vs. Kakeru (127 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
Kuriaki Drops Kakeru Twice To Win RIZIN Debut
Kickboxer Shogo Kuriaki had a one-sided performance against Kakeru in the second bout of the night, dropping him twice before forcing a stoppage in the second round.
Kuriaki dictated the pace of the fight throughout, constantly walking Kakeru down with strikes.
Knockdowns started to come in the second round. After Kakeru was dropped once, he was floored a second time by a head kick, forcing the fight to end.
Kuriaki mostly competes on the regional kickboxing scene in Japan, appearing in promotions like KNOCK OUT and REBELS.
Bout 1: REITO BRAVELY vs. Koichiro Seki (139 lbs) (Kickboxing Bout)
BRAVELY Stops Seki In Seconds With Head Kick
REITO BRAVELY prevailed in a fast mismatch to open the card, stopping Koichiro Seki in just seconds in a kickboxing bout.
BRAVELY picked up a walk-off victory due to a head kick that landed clean. Not much happened in the fight prior to this moment.
On paper, BRAVELY entered this fight as a much more successful fighter than Seki. He had a positive kickboxing record, while Seki entered with a record of nine wins and 17 losses.