TOKYO – May 4th, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, held a press conference and announced updates about upcoming
events. At the press conference, Mikuru Asakura and Kleber Koike, who were decided to participate in the Tokyo Dome
event, took the stage.
RIZIN.28 will be Streamed LIVE on SkyperfectTV, and RIZIN LIVE PPV with Japanese commentary. English commentary
stream is provided by LiveNow. Doors are expected to open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM
“RIZIN has been focused on putting on intriguing fights during the covid pandemic. Things are moving forward for May 30th in Osaka, June 13th in Tokyo Dome. Worst case-scenario, we will hold the event without spectators. More RIZIN.28 announcements will be made today, and tickets have already gone on sale. If we decide to do non-spectators, refunds will be available.” said Sakakibara during the press conference. After rumblings of a potential bout for reigning Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi’s appearance on the upcoming Tokyo Dome card, Sakakibara put those to rest, stating “MMA will be making a return to the Tokyo Dome after 18 years so we won’t hold back on our cards. Horiguchi won’t be able to make it so it’s natural to bring in our best cards that we can put together at the moment.” With 4 of the strongest matchups from the Grand Prix, the RIZIN.28 card is shaping up to be one of the best name-value cards thus far.
RIZIN mainstay Mikuru Asakura (14-2, 1NC) will be taking on fellow top contender Kleber Koike (27-5-1) in a marquee matchup that has title implications. Asakura has enjoyed a 8-1 stretch under Japan’s premier banner, with his sole defeat coming in a close and exciting match to crown the inaugural featherweight champion against Yutaka Saito back at RIZIN 25 last November. He quickly rebounded with a first round TKO victory against the ever-tough Satoshi Yamasu just a month later, handing him his first stoppage loss in nearly 5 years. Kleber Koike has scored 2 back-to-back submission victories, showcasing his patented ground game while also impressing on the feet Wins over Kyle Aguon and Kazumasa Majima (who brought a 12-1 streak into the bout, only losing to the champion Saito since 2014) have propelled the former KSW Champion to the top of the heap at 66kg. A collision course between two of the finest fighters on the roster have sparked the interest of hardcore and casual fans alike, due to their differences in personality and fight style.
“This will be my 3rd fight in RIZIN. I haven’t fought at my 100% yet, maybe only 50% until now, so I’m eager to show my all in this next fight. There’s pressure but I’ll handle it. Mikuru is a top fighter in Japan but I will do my best to beat him. I’ve sparred with Asakura a long time ago but that was a very long time. We’ve both change styles since, and practice and an actual fight are two different things, so I’m not sure what to say about when we practiced together. I’m not worried at all about his grappling. It won’t be a problem. 6 months of training won’t change your style. If it goes to the ground he’s going to have a bad time. I’m not worried whatsoever. I will finish this fight with a submission, one opening is what it will take for me to finish this fight.”
“Kleber’s fought internationally and has a great finishing rate. He’s definitely a dangerous opponent for me. I want to show a different style. I want to show that I can grapple and hold my own against an opponent like Kleber. I want to knock out my opponent.”
RIZIN.28 – June 13th
Mikuru Asakura vs Kleber Koike – 66kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
Kai Asakura vs Shooto Watanabe – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Takeshi Kasugai – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Naoki Inoue vs Shintaro Ishiwatari – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Yuki Motoya vs Ryo Okada – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
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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