Tokyo – On June 24th, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, held a press conference and announced updates about RIZIN.37 – the promotion’s eight event of the year.
RIZIN.37 Doors are expected to open at 12:30PM with the Opening Ceremony at 2:00PM on July 31st (Sun) at the Saitama Super Arena. Broadcasting and streaming available on EXCITING RIZIN with Japanese commentary & texts only.
Naoki Inoue (15-3, 5-1 RIZIN FF) vs Kenta Takizawa (13-8, 3-3 RIZIN FF) 61kg MMA Before suffering his first loss in nearly 3 years, many fans felt that Inoue was the favorite against eventual Grand Prix Champion Hiromasa Ougikubo. A gritty performance from the veteran ended Inoue’s 5-fight win streak; the 4th-longest in promotional history. A lightning-fast stoppage victory that sent his handpicked opponent and JMMA legend Shintaro Ishiwatari into retirement followed by a slick performance against 25-fight veteran and Pancrase title challenger Kintaro colored Inoue’s Grand Prix run for an eventual showdown with former champion and fan-favorite, Kai Asakura. That fight may still yet happen, should Inoue get past fellow semifinalist Kenta Takizawa. Takizawa comes in as the underdog, but is also coming off of two of the better performances of his career, stopping Yuki Motoya in half a round at RIZIN.30 and going toe-to-toe with divisional elite Asakura in the semifinal at RIZIN.33. The former Pancrase title challenger looks to seal the biggest win of his career and set up a potential rematch with either Asakura or Ougikubo.
Vugar Karamov (16-4, 2-1 RIZIN FF) vs Rikuto Shirakawa (11-8-1, 3-1 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA Tofiq Musayev’s stablemate Karamov is a true well-rounded finisher, he has won 6 bouts by KO/TKO and 7 bouts by submission. After losing a controversial split decision to former champion, Yutaka Saito, the competitiveness of the bout elevated the Azerbaijani fighter’s profile in the division. He was able to return to the RIZIN ring in 2022 with a lightning quick submission over Pancrase Interim Bantamweight Champion Taichi Nakajima at RIZIN.35 in April. With just one loss in the last 8 years and a 12-1 record in that time, Karamov remains a top contender in RIZIN’s ever-growing featherweight division. Asakura brothers’ Rikuto Shirakawa has spent the majority of his professional career as a Bantamweight, but has recently moved up to Featherweight since fighting in RIZIN and has shown success with the transition, posting a 5-1 record with 3 KOs. The Osaka native is coming off of a TKO victory against GRACHAN double champion Takuya Yamamoto and is riding a 4-fight win streak – the longest of his 10-year career.
Ulka Sasaki (23-10-2, 2-4 RIZIN FF) vs Yoshiki Nakahara (15-5, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA Two-time Shooto champion Sasaki makes his 3rd appearance at 66kg after coming up short in his first 2 bouts against Yoshinori Horie and an exhilarating clash against top contender Kleber Koike. Former GLADIATOR Featherweight Champion Nakahara is 10-1 in his last 11 bouts, and notably defeated former DEEP Featherweight Champion Hiroto Uesako in his pro debut back in November 2012. With 9 finishes and 7 by KO (4 in the 1st round) against 12 of Sasaki’s 23 wins coming by submission (11 by rear-naked choke), this will be a striker vs grappler matchup between two of Japan’s finest talents at 66kg. Their career trajectories have been going in completely different directions. Sasaki is 5-9 in his last 14 outings, failing to put together 2-straight wins since 2014, meanwhile Nakahara is 11-3 in the same timeframe.
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Yuki Motoya (30-10, 7-5 1NC RIZIN FF) vs Shinobu Ota (2-1, 2-1 RIZIN FF) 61kg MMA Two-weight DEEP Champion Yuki Motoya kicked off 2022 with a solid showing in a unanimous decision win over Alan Yamaniha at RIZIN.35 2 months ago. Coming into the best stretch of his RIZIN career (5-2 in last 7 since August 2020), he looks to put together his first ever 3-fight win streak against Olympian and Silver Medalist Shinobu Ota. Shinobu Ota’s credentials as a wrestler is unparalleled by any current mixed martial artist. The 2016 Olympic Games Wrestling Silver Medalist, 2018 Asian Games Wrestling Gold Medalist, and 2019 World Championships Wrestling Gold Medalist has had a rocky start to his MMA career. A submission loss to 67-fight veteran and 2011 DREAM Bantamweight GP Champion Hideo Tokoro in his debut followed by a labored unanimous decision victory over multiple time K-1 Champion Yuta Kubo. He was finally able to put all of his tools together in a dominant stoppage victory over 46-fight veteran and domestic champion Kazuma Sone last New Years at RIZIN.33. Now, he will stand across the ring against another JMMA veteran and domestic champion in Yuki Motoya. Can Motoya score his 8th win in RIZIN (moving into 3rd all-time in company history), or will Ota prove to be another contender in his Bantamweight debut?
YUSHI (1-1, 1-1 RIZIN FF) vs HARUKI (0-0, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 62kg Challenge Rules YUSHI, is an amateur kickboxing tournament winner who holds a 8-7-1 amateur kickboxing record and has also competed in several body building tournaments in Japan. Despite coming up short in his RIZIN and MMA debut, he turned out a fantastic KO at RIZIN Landmark Vol.3 last month against ZENKI. HARUKI holds a 12-3 amateur kickboxing record with 7 knockouts, and is also has a background as a host club worker like his opponent. This fight will be held under RIZIN CHALLENGE RULES which consists of 3 rounds x 3 minutes, No face stomps and knees to the head of a grounded opponent. Elbows and soccer ball kicks will be allowed.
Hideki Sekine (12-5, 2-1 RIZIN FF) vs Tsuyoshi Sudario (4-1, 4-1 RIZIN FF) 120kg MMA Sekine started his career 7-0 before suffering his first defeat against Brandon Vera for the ONE Championship Heavyweight title. Since then, he endured mixed results but was able to put together a 3-fight win streak beginning in 2021 – including an upset victory over Shoma Shibisai at RIZIN.33. In his last bout, he defeated Tsuyoshi Sudario’s twin brother and MMA debutant, Satoshi Kamiyama, aka ‘Takakenshin’. Sudario looks to take revenge on behalf of his twin after 8 months of inactivity – the longest of his nearly 2-year career.
Kota Miura (1-0, 1-0 RIZIN FF) vs Felipe Masoni (9-4, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA The match that was supposed to materialize last month finally comes to fruition. The son of Japanese super star Kazuyoshi Miura, who holds the longest career in soccer and the oldest player ever in a football match in the highest national division worldwide, Miura will be making his second RIZIN appearance – this time under full MMA rules against an international opponent. Miura has been training kickboxing for about 3 years and has recently joined Olympic wrestler and MMA veteran Kazuyuki Miyata’s team to pursue his passion for MMA. Felipe Masoni is the Serbian Battle Championship lightweight title challenger, and has 6 wins by stoppage. He returns to MMA after a 3-year hiatus and will prove to be a major step-up in competition for the young Miura.
Hideo Tokoro (35-30-2, 3-2 RIZIN FF) vs Makoto Takahashi (13-1-1, 1-0 RIZIN FF) 57kg MMA
44-year-old Tokoro debuted in September of 2000. A natural flyweight, he has competed against opponents weighing as much as 88kg (194lbs). However, the DREAM Bantamweight Grand Prix Champion is no stranger to facing young up-and-comers, and Takahashi should prove to be a solid test for the 22-year, 67-fight veteran. Makoto ‘Shinryu’ Takahashi the DEEP Flyweight Champion, winning the interim title in June of 2019, and unifying the crown in his last bout at DEEP 107 last month over interim champion Yamato Fujita. This will certainly be the 21-year-old’s biggest test to date in his second RIZIN appearance, and he looks to send shockwaves through RIZIN’s flyweight division with an upset over the veteran Tokoro.
“I’m currently living in New York but I plan to finalize my fight camp in Japan.”
“I hope to continue the momentum in the fight industry. Please watch the event in any way you can.”
“I’ve trained with him before, and I think he’s become much better but I will get the win in the end.”
“I’m happy to be able to fight at the Saitama Super Arena again. I want to put on a show from the very beginning of the event. This fight will be a battle between 2 good looking princes.”
“I’ve got several offers for this fight before and it’s finally happening. Sudario has finished all of his wins but I need to prove that pro wrestlers aren’t all about getting finished. Let’s bang.”
“I had to postpone my fight due to injury but I’m happy to be back in RIZIN. I will do everything it takes to get the win.”
“I’m happy to be competing at the Saitama Super Arena under RIZIN rules once again. I will fight hard for 3 rounds and am determined not to lose against this risin prospect.”
“Wait for that moment to see Inoue going down hard.”
“I’m happy to be able to fight in RIZIN. I will do my best to put on a great performance.”
“I’ve trained with him before but I want to show him that I’m a different fighter now. I think a win in this fight will get me in line to compete against the top guys in the organization so I will dominate him with respect.”
“My opponent is on a roll and I will take everything he has built in the past few fights.”
“I will fight YUSHI with full respect. I am aiming to take over his position of being the fancy good looking fighter.”
“I’m happy to finally be fighting in RIZIN. I will use my soccerball kicks to get the win.”
“The theme for this fight is to beat up old timers. This will be a one sided brutal beatdown”
“I’m excited to show my skills in Japan once again. I will show no mercy against my opponent.”
“Many people think I am the underdog but after this fight, many things will change.”
RIZIN.37 – Saitama Super Arena, July 31st
Naoki Inoue vs Kenta Takizawa [61kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Ulka Sasaki vs Yuki Nakahara [66kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Yuki Motoya vs Shinobu Ota [61kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
YUSHI vs HARUKI [62kg – RIZIN Challenge rules]
Hideki Sekine vs Tsuyoshi Sudario [120kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Kota Miura vs Felipe Masoni [66kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Hideo Tokoro vs Makoto Takahashi [57kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Vugar Karamov vs Rikuto Shirakawa [66kg – RIZIN MMA rules]
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, 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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