TOKYO – On July 18th, RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION announced additional bouts for their back-to-backYokohama extravaganza. The events will be held at 50% capacity with spectators inside the arena. For RIZIN 22: ‘Starting Over’, additional bouts include 1 kickboxing bout and 2 MMA bouts.
Nadaka Yoshinari (30-5-1) clashes with Yuushin (3-1). The teen sensation Yoshinari boasts a plethora of titles across Thailand and Japan, winning the Inaugural Battle of Muay Thai Flyweight title this past December, along with previously claiming Rajadamnern Stadium and Lumpinee Boxing Stadium titles. He is known to the Thai fans as ‘นาดากะ เอวะสปอร์ตยิม’ (Nadaka Eiwasports gym). This bout will held under RIZIN kickboxing rules with elbows.
Former RINGS title challenger Rikuto Shirakawa (7-7-1) steps in against Kyohei “Kenka Bancho” Hagiwara (0-2). Shirakawa notably competed against (and lost to) RIZIN superstar, Mikuru Asakura as an amateur, in THE OUTSIDE promotion back in 2014. Since then, he has become a mainstay in the Japanese circuit, competing in DEEP and Pancrase. ‘Kenka Bancho’ Hagiwara is coming off a nearly 2-year long layoff.
Lastly, the fan-friendly Erson Yamamoto (3-4) returns to action against Kenji Kato (10-7). Almost a year after his spectacular elbow KO victory over Tim Eschtruth, he continues his journey towards a belt he vows to bring to his late uncle, KID Yamamoto. Kato last competed at RIZIN 21 in February, losing via submission to Yuto Hokamura – after which he vowed to rebuild himself as a fighter. Both fighters records’ combine for a total of 8 KO/TKO victories out of 13, so the fans can expect an action-packed scrap.
Among the announced bouts for RIZIN 23: ‘Calling Over’, Kotetsu Boku (26-14-2) squares off against Jin Aoi (7-3-1). A longtime veteran of the Japanese MMA scene – debuting in 2001 – and first-ever ONE Lightweight Champion, Kotetsu Boku returns to the premier Japanese ring after 12 years. Boku is no stranger to high profile bouts, having twice challenged for the Shooto 154lb title, and is still in the search for gold at featherweight. Aoi is nearly 20 years younger than his opponent, and will carry a perceived lack of experience, but will more than make up for it in determination. After a fruitful start to his professional career, he suffered his first professional loss when he challenged two-weight Shooto champion Ryogo Takahashi for the featherweight belt. Following a winless 2019, Aoi put his name back in the winner’s column with a stoppage victory in February of this year.
TAIGA (21-11-1) looks to claim a victory in a rematch against Kento Haraguchi (15-1-1). The pair last met in a hard-fought draw at RIZIN 13. In spite of being a multiple-time K1 champion, Taiga is 1-7-1 in his last 9 outings – including back-to-back losses to Tenshin Nasukawa stablemate, Taiju Shiratori. Meanwhile, Haraguchi claimed the RISE -63kg Championship in January of this year with a first-round KO, and hasn’t lost in 3 years. The two youngsters’ careers seem to be on opposite trajectories. Will Taiga take his first step towards a resurgence, or will Haraguchi continue his rise towards stardom?
RIZIN 23 also sees Floridian-born Shintaro Matsukura (26-16) make his second appearance in RIZIN, as he takes on mixed martial artist-turned kickboxer, Koji Mori (12-7-2). Matsukura was booked to fight Takuma Konishi last October, but an unfortunate case of pink eye forced his removal from the card, coming immediately after a failed challenge for the vacant RISE -70kg championship. Mori is an out-and-out striker, having finished all of his wins in MMA via KO/TKO. This will be his 2nd kickboxing bout, after a successful debut last November saw him win by KO in the closing moments of the 2nd round.
Yusaku Nakamura (16-7-1) faces Tatsuki Saomoto (14-2) in a matchup between two of Japan’s top flyweights. Nakamura is the former DEEP Flyweight Champion, and Saomoto is the reigning ZST Flyweight Champion. Nakamura has split his last 4 fights 2-2, while Saomoto is riding a 10-fight win streak.
Capping off the announced bouts for RIZIN 23, KAITO (34-6-1) fights Daryl Lokoku (10-6-1) under kickboxing rules. The future star of SHOOTBOXING currently sports a perfect 2-0 record in the RIZIN ring, with previous victories against Yoshiya Uzatsuyo and Sho Ogawa at RIZIN 11 and RIZIN 12 respectively (stunningly, this feat was achieved 2 weeks apart). Lokoku is yet another MMA fighter who seeks a victory in kickboxing, having just lost his GRACHAN Welterweight title last December. Interestingly, Lokoku captured a silver medal at the African U20 73kg Judo Championships in Dakar in 2010.
Nadaka Yoshinari: I’m very honored to be able to fight on such a prestigious platform. I want to show my skills and abilities of a Muay Thai Champion to everybody.
Yuushin: I’m honored to be able to face the current Champ for both Rajadamnern Stadium and Lumpinee Stadium. I’ve fought Nadaka once in my amateur and lost, but I will make revenge this\ time.
Dayle Lokuku: I’ve been fighting MMA, and Lethuay, and this will be my first time fighting kickboxing. My opponent is very strong, but I will keep challenging and do my best to win.
KAITO: I haven’t been able to fight since February, so I am very much looking forward to fight again. My opponent is bigger and stronger so I must be careful, but I think it will be a very fun fight.
TAIGA: I have been training and have been ready for any offer, and I am happy that RIZIN is getting back on it’s feet. I live in the fight business, I will show what I live for and why I do it. I think I am in the best shape of my life, I am a totally different fighter then my last fight.
Kento Haraguchi: I’m very honored to be getting the offer, but I want to make RIZIN regret they didn’t call me up earlier. I’ve fought my opponent before, but now he’s turned into a Youtuber. I know I am better than him. I will dominate
Erson Yamamoto: The pandemic has torn our everyday lives apart. But thanks to Sakakibara and all of his staff, we are given another chance to fight. I am truly grateful. This will be my return after an injury. I understand the situation I am put in, and I will climb back up to where I belong.
Kenji Kato: In my last fight in RIZIN, I lost without being able to show anything. I have been training hard since my last fight and have always been ready. I will prove that I belong here by taking off of my opponent’s head.
Shintaro Matsukura: He may have transitioned to kickboxing from MMA, but I already see he’s making excuses of the lack of kickboxing experience. I am confident in my abilities and I will put on a great fight. I know that everybody involved are risking things by putting on an event, so I would like to return the favor with my performance.
Koji Mori: I’m still new to kickboxing, but I’m excited for this big opportunity. My style is to finish, and I will show you an exciting brawl.
Kotetsu Boku: I was supposed to fight Asakura, but I think the most important thing right now is to fight. I know my next loss will be my last fight, so I will keep challenging until I get the Asakura fight. I keep myself motivated by training everyday, but I was able to use this quarantine period in a very good way. When you fight as long as I have been fighting, all of my opponents will be younger. So I plan to teach these kids a tough lesson.
Jin Aoi: I’m both nervous and excited about this opportunity. I know I need to prove myself in this fight to determine my future in the sport. Boku was a world class fighter and I am veruy excited to see how my skills will hold up against him. I appreciate Boku for taking the fight against me, so all I can do to put on my best performance.
Rikuto Shirakawa: I am very happy and grateful to be able to be fighting in the RIZIN ring. Today is my birthday and I feel this is desitiny. I know Kyohei very well, but he is still young and not ready for such a big stage. I plan to teach him that in the ring. We are both brawlers so I will promise you some huge fireworks. This is just the first step for me. I plan to conquer the division.
Kyohei Hagiwara: I’m very grateful for the people who made this possible. I will get in the ring and tear things up. I respect my opponent and have trained with him before, but once we get in the ring, I have no plans but to beat the living shit out of him
Yusaku Nakamura: I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I will put on a fight that never misses.
Tatsuki Saomoto: I am very honored to be fighting on one of my dream stages. I have been with Mr. Miyata since highschool so I want to return the favor of him taking care of me. I want to prove that I am the vest in the division.
Doors open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM on Sunday August 9th at the Pia Arena MMA . International tickets can be purchased at www.stubhub.com.
Doors open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM on Monday August 10th at the Pia Arena MMA . International tickets can be purchased at www.stubhub.com.
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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