TOKYO – On July 9th, RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION held a press conference announcing 2 back to back events in Yokohama and 7 fights cards that will be held including TUF runner up Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-4-2) vs Kai Asakura (14-2) for the vacant RIZIN Bantamweight title. The events will be held at 50% capacity with spectators inside the arena.
Naoki Inoue (13-2) squares off against Shooto Watanabe (20-4-6, 1NC). Inoue went 1-1 in his stint with the UFC, and recently announced himself to the Japanese fans after going 9-0 in DEEP’s flyweight division, as well as a fantastic action-packed victory over Trent Girdham. Watanabe himself rides an 8- fight winning streak coming into this match up – with 4 of those wins coming by his patented submissions.
Tetsuya Seki (12-6-1) brings his 9-fight (5 finish) unbeaten streak against Yojiro Uchimura (17-13-3) in a featherweight bout. Seki is the ZST Featherweight Champion, winning the title at the end of 2017, and has since fought 4 times. Japanese veteran Uchimura has claimed 12 of his 17 wins via KO/TKO, and recently competed twice as a kickboxer. Seki will be looking to hand Uchimura his 3rd defeat in a row, while sending a message to fellow featherweights across Japan.
RIZIN 22 also marks the return of former Super Atomweight queen Kanna Asakura (16-4), as she takes on Mizuki Furuse (7-6). Despite her unassuming record, the 19-year-old former Amateur Shooto Champion Furuse is riding a 4-fight win streak with 2 of those coming by stoppage. Asakura last appeared at Bellator Japan, with a commanding performance that culminated in a 3rd round kimura victory over Jayme Hinshaw. Rounding out the announced bouts for RIZIN 22, Yusuke Yachi returns to action against fellow lightweight standout, Roberto Satoshi Souza (8-2). Yachi snapped a 3-fight skid with an epic soccer kick finish over Hiroto Uesako at Bellator Japan on New Years, while Souza tasted the first defeat of his professional career in his last outing at RIZIN 19. All of Souza’s professional bouts have ended in a finish, and 7 of Yachi’s 9 RIZIN appearances have ended in a finish, so the fans can expect a barn burner of a matchup.
R I Z I N 23:
Former ZST Flyweight Champion Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) returns to the RIZIN ring after a 16-month layoff. His opponent, Makoto ‘Shinryu’ Takahashi (10-1-1). Takahashi is the DEEP Interim Flyweight Champion, winning the belt in June of last year. This will certainly be the 20-year-old’s biggest test to date, and he looks to send shockwaves through RIZIN’s flyweight division with an upset over the veteran Ito. Former 2-weight and current DEEP Bantamweight Champion Yuki Motoya (24-8) is set to make his 8th appearance under Japan’s premier banner, taking a hard fought decision victory in March over former DEEP Bantamweight Champion, Takafumi Otsuka. He takes on fellow veteran, Mamoru ‘Fullswing’ Uoi (22-8-5). Motoya sits with a 3-3 (1NC) record in RIZIN, while Uoi makes his second appearance – with his last showing a spectacular soccer kick KO victory over Kana Hyatt at RIZIN 16. Both men have faced the Kyoji Horiguchi – Motoya in Horiguchi’s RIZIN debut at RIZIN 2017 in Yokohama, and Uoi back in 2009’s 6th East Japan Amateur Shooto Open Tournament – a bout that lasted only 25 seconds in which Uoi suffered an injury. With an impressive win, who knows how it will shake up the landscape at 135 pounds in RIZIN.
Shooto Featherweight Champion Yutaka Saito (17-4-2) will square off against former Rebel FC Featherweight Champion Kazumasa Majima (14-1). Saito won the belt against Japanese legend Caol Uno back in 2017, and hasn’t looked back, claiming 3 of his 4 victories by vicious knockouts since then. Majima has not lost a fight since 2014 – finishing 11 of 12 wins (10 submissions.) With another pair of 145-pound contenders matched up the day before these two are set to compete, the fans will have much to look forward to, come the end of the year. The marquee Bantamweight matchup sees Hiromasa Ogikubo (20-4-2) facing Kai Asakura (14-2). Ogikubo has taken on all comers, losing only twice since 2013 (both losses against consensus #1, Kyoji Horiguchi.) The man who last fought Horiguchi – Asakura – is looking for redemption after coming up short in the vacant Bantamweight title match against Manel Kape.
Naoki Inoue: “I am very grateful for RIZIN and people who worked hard to make this happen, I look to put on a great fight an inspire those who are suffering from the pandemic and storms in Japan.”
Shooto Watanabe: “I am NEXT FIGHTING Champion Watanabe. Inoue is a very good and tough fighter, but I have my magical choke to back me up. I look forward in beating such a tough opponent and enjoy Yokohama’s food.”
Tetsuya Seki: “I’m the ZST champion. I hear that this is a starting over event for RIZIN, I plan to add the fuel to RIZIN’s fire so please look forward for my performance”
Yojiro Uchimura: “I would like to show what RIZIN is and what Uchimura is all about”
Kanna Asakura: “This will be the first time I will be facing somebody younger and inexperienced than me. I would like to be a great obsticle to this up and coming talent and put on a good fight.”
Mizuki Furuse: “I’m honored to be given the opportunity to fight on such a big stage. I am sitting here with confidence that I can beat Kanna Asakura. I look forward to making myself a name and becoming recognized.”
Yusuke Yashi: “Putting on events during such times may have several opinions, but as long as I’m going to do this, I want to make sure to put on my best performance, and deliver hope and inspiration to the Japanese fans. I’ve been collaborating with several traditional martial artists on my youtube channel, and I’ve been learning several things. Some may be useful in MMA and I have been trying to convert them into my fight style.”
Roberto Satoshi Souza: “I will put on a good fight. Please believe in me.” “My last performance was embarrassing. I couldn’t end my career like this. But now I am very motivated and I don’t want to quit, I want to keep going until I make it to the top. There was much to learn from that loss.”
Hiromasa Ougikubo: “It has been a long journey but I feel that I have finally came to where I need to be. I will show everything I’ve got, and I will beat Kai Asakura. Asakura, let’s put on a good fight. I’m struggling with my youtube account. It may be time to retreat. My plan was to have 30000 subscribers in 3 days, but after 4 months, I’m still at 4000.”
Kai Asakura: “I am very happy to be able to fight. I’ve learned so much from my last fight and I know that I’ve gotten better. I know must win this fight for the future of RIZIN and the future of Japanese MMA. I am determined to win this belt.”
Seiichiro Ito: “I will believe in myself and what I’ve worked for will lead me to good results. I plan to put on the fastest pace and greatest performance in the event.”
Makoto Takahashi: “I am happy to be back on such a big stage. Ito, thank you so much for becoming my stepping stone. I would like to show my new move, super special stomping stone.”
Yuki Motoya: “My opponent be said that he’s a gimme. But I no matter who my opponent is, I look to win in an impressive way.”
Mamoru Uoi: “My last few fights have not been good. I have been defeated in interesting ways. I still don’t know why I go the offer against such a great fighter Motoya, but I will work hard with the time I have left, and will prove to everybody that I belong here.”
Yutaka Saito: “I am very grateful for Shooto to send me out in good will. I think that I can show my skills and make the division much more interesting.”
Kazumasa Majima: “I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity during tough times. This is my first fight in RIZIN but I think my addition will make RIZIN’s featherweight divison much more interesting. Saito is the Shooto Chamopion and is a great fighter, but I think I can beat him and I can prove my ability.”
Naoki Inoue vs Shooto Watanabe
Tetsuya Seki vs Yojiro Uchimura
Kanna Asakura vs Mizuki Furuse
Yusuke Yachi vs Roberto Satoshi Souza
Doors open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM on Sunday August 9th at the Pia Arena MM.
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Kai Asakura
Seiichirio Ito vs Makoto Takahashi
Yuki Motoya vs Mamoru Uoi
Yutaka Saito vs Kazumasa Majima
Doors open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM on Monday August 10th at the Pia Arena MM.
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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