TOKYO – December 10th, RIZIN announced 4 bouts, bringing the total number of confirmed bouts to 12 for the end-of-year extravaganza; with two key featherweight bouts. RIZIN superstar Mikuru Asakura appears alongside younger brother and RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura for the third consecutive New Year’s Eve show, and Satoshi Souza stablemate Kleber Koike makes his RIZIN debut.
RIZIN.26 will be taking place on December 31st (Tue) at the Saitama Super Arena. 10,000 spectators will be allowed inside to attend the event due to the governmental requirements on the COVID-19 pandemic. RIZIN CEO Sakakibara also mentioned that pre sales are going extremely well and expects tickets to be sold out the day they go on sale. RIZIN.26 will be televised LIVE on FUJI TV from 6:00pm to 11:54 pm, while the entire event will be available on SkyperfectTV, and RIZIN LIVE PPV streaming at the following link. https://rizinff-live-eng.com/ Doors are expected to open at 12:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 2:00PM on Thursday, December 31st at the Saitama Super Arena.
Fresh off of a close and exciting featherweight title match, Mikuru Asakura (13-2, 1 NC) makes a quick turn around against Satoshi Yamasu (11-5) in a top contender match. Asakura’s success as a YouTuber has continued to grow alongside his career as a mixed martial artist, evidenced by a recent upload that was viewed over 2 million times where he spoke candidly about his valiant (but unsuccessful) performance at RIZIN 25 against Yutaka Saito for the inaugural RIZIN Featherweight Championship. A broken nose sustained by Saito prevented an immediate rematch. Yamasu was the DEEP Featherweight Champion, losing his title in his last bout just 3 months ago. Yamasu holds a brace of wins against fellow RIZIN featherweight and former DEEP champion, Takahiro Ashida, in one of which he won the DEEP title. Asakura is on the hunt for his 8th win in RIZIN, and Yamasu seeks to steal the limelight from the division’s ace.
Another featherweight matchup sees Kleber Koike (25-5-1) taking on Kyle Aguon (13-9). Koike, a native of Iwata, had his first taste of title victory against former WEC Bantamweight Champion and MMA legend Miguel Torres, when he submitted him via D’Arce choke to win the 2015 Rebel FC Tournament Championship. Koike also finished Takahiro Ashida with a triangle in the first round the same night to advance to the final. He then became a two-time KSW Featherweight Champion in 2017. Aguon, who married Miyuu Yamamoto earlier this year, will be making his second appearance in the promotion. No stranger to championship level bouts, Aguon is the former PXC Bantamweight Champion, and lost a rematch for the Pancrase Featherweight Championship against Isao Kobayashi (whom he defeated in their first meeting back in 2017). Aguon has never been finished; Koike holds 21 submission victories from 25 wins.
Nakada Yoshinari (33-5-1, 18 KOs) will face 19-year old Thai phenom, Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit. Despite being 19-years old himself, Yoshinari boasts a plethora of titles across Thailand and Japan at the amateur and professional levels, and is the current unified champion of Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium, and International Boxing Federation Muaythai at mini flyweight. Yoshinari competed at RIZIN 22, knocking out Yuushin in the second round. He is known to the Thai fans as ‘นาดากะ เอวะสปอร์ตยิม’ (Nadaka Eiwasports gym). Phetjaroenvit currently holds 3 titles in 2 weight divisions and has over 70 professional fights under his belt. The Thai Native looks to make a name for himself by defeating the Japanese Champion in his hometown.
Kazuma Kuramoto (7-1) clashes with Taiyo Nakahara (15-8) in a 63kg catchweight bout. Kuramoto was an undefeated prospect until his sole career defeat came against Ryo Okada for the Interim Shooto World Bantamweight Championship. Kuramoto has 5 wins by KO (4 in the first round). Longtime JMMA veteran Nakahara is coming off of a near 3 and ½ year layoff, and has a long, storied career. Nakahara was one of the most highprofile fighters out of Japan’s elite Wajutsu Keishukai academy. Interestingly, he competed against Kyoji Horiguchi’s current head coach, Mike Brown in 2005, along with mixed results against RIZIN veterans such as Hideo Tokoro (Loss, 2003), Shintaro Ishiwatari (Win, 2010). His last outing was a unanimous decision victory over Jae Hoon Moon in February of 2017.
Mikuru Asakura: “Although I lost in November but NYE is something I don’t want to miss. I’m not sure why I’m not getting the DEEP Champion but I look to show the difference in skills and finish him early.” “My opponent says he’s a full time company man but I can assure you I’m busier than him.” “My fight style has been a bit conservative so I look to get back into street fight mode.”
Satoshi Yamasu: “Hello this I am the Dominator. I’m not sure if I deserve to fight on such a stage. I think I was brought here because it is posterboy Asakura’s comeback fight and RIZIN brass picked a full time working man who fights on the side. Kudos for their risk management team. I’m assuming my employer knows about this and won’t stop me from fighting on NYE.” “I proud myself in coming this far as a full time worker and professional fighter so I hope to keep my integrity. Right now I am known as Asakura’s opponent but I look to put on a great performance and have people remember me as the dominator”
Kleber Koike: “I’m very happy to finally be able to fight on this stage. Everybody please look forward to my performance.”
Kyle Aguon: “I’ve always thought that the NYE events were special while cornering Miyuu. I am very excited that I got the opportunity to participate on such a stage along with Miyuu. I hope to close out 2020 with both of us winning. Kleber is a fantastic fighter and I am honored to be facing such an opponent and defeating him.”
Nadaka Yoshinari: “I’m very happy to be able to fight on NYE. My opponent is a Thai Champion and is a good opponent. I look to show my skills against such a champ and will fight to finish from the beginning of the fight.” “Right now I fight at 50kg but I’m still growing and next year I look to bulk up a bit and fight at heavier weight classes and top fighters in those weight classes”
Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit: “Nadaka is a great and famous fighter in Thailand. I will use this opportunity to beat him and make a name for myself.”
Kazuma Kuramoto: “I am very honored to be invited to this stage. I will do my bet to put on a great performance.” “I will try to utilize my german suplex during the fight so that people get to know me”
Taiyo Nakahara: “I come from Tiger Mask Sayama dojo. I came here to show what I have learned from Master Sayama.” “My opponent will be looking for a german suplex but my master has been teaching me the tiger suplex so I look forward to showing everybody my throws.”
RIZIN 26 Fight Card:
- Kai Asakura vs Kyoji Horiguchi – 61kg RIZIN Bantamweight Championship (Elbows allowed)
- Hideo Tokoro vs Shinobu Ota – 61kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Ayaka Hamasaki vs Miyuu Yamamoto – 49kg RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship (Elbows allowed)
- Kanna Asakura vs Ai Shimizu – 49kg RIZIN MMA Rules (No Elbows allowed)
- Yuki Motoya vs Naoki Inoue – 61kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Ren Hiramoto vs Kyohei Hagiwara – 68kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Sudario Tsuyoshi vs Minowaman – 120kg RIZIN MMA Rules (No Elbows allowed)
- Ulka Sasaki vs Kenta Takizawa – 61kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Mikuru Asakura vs Satoshi Yamasu – 68kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Kleber Koike vs Kyle Aguon – 67kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Kazuma Kuramoto vs Taiyo Nakahara – 63kg RIZIN MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
- Nadaka Yoshinari vs Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit – 50kg RIZIN Kickboxing Rules (Elbows allowed)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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