Saitama Super Arena once again plays host to Rizin for another star studded New Years Eve show. In the traditional Rizin ring we take a look at the 14 spectacular matches sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats.
The main event will feature a rematch between mma “bad boys” Manuel Kape and Kai Asakura. With a 5-3 Rizin record Kape might not seem like the first choice for a title opportunity. Styles make fights as the saying goes and Kape has proven to possess the kind of style that is problematic for Kai. Kape has fight turning power and is at his best when in a brawl, something Kai has never shied away from. At a perfect 6-0 in Rizin Kai will definitely be the favorite and look to cement his superstar status with another spectacular display of accurate striking and heavy hands. The first encounter was closely contested, going right down to the wire. With the title on the line and stakes even higher there will be tension in the air as a single mistake from either fighter could spell the end.
Relegated to co-main event this event, striking phenom Tenshin Nasukawa looks to put his undefeated kickboxing record on the line again as he takes his 6th fight this year. Tenshin has been tearing through the worlds best on a regular basis. Not only is he winning he is finishing fighters in style, a highlight reel of flashy spinning kicks, brutal body shots, jumping knees and blistering punches. At 35-0 Tenshin recently dominated the stacked Rise world series tournament to pick up his 2nd title this year and another sensational win to end 2019 would be a cherry on top. Facing the Japanese superstar new years eve will be Rui Ebata. While not a household name Ebata has proven himself among the worlds top in kickboxings 55kg division, amassing a stellar 41-3-3 record with 1 NC. Like Tenshin, Ebata comes from a full contact karate background and implements a lot of the same “Ichigeki”, “one hit one kill” philosophy and will likely fight fire with fire and go toe to toe with Tenshin. Ebata is as tough an opponent as Tenshin can get as he tries to pull of the seemingly impossible task of taking out the kickboxing prodigy.
Another title will be on the line at Rizin 20 as women’s atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki takes on Korean standout Seo Hee Ham. Hamasaki is a perfect 5-0 in Rizin and has earned a place as one of the worlds most dominant champions. After taking the Jewels title the Judoka next picked up the atomweight Invicta belt before moving to Rizin to secure the strap there to add to her collection. Her only 2 losses have come at higher weights to the worlds elite. Hamasaki brings to the table a strong grappling acumen with dynamic throws, smooth transitions and technical submissions. Ham has been under Hamasaki`s radar for a while, with Rizin eager to match the surging atomweight. A return back down to 105lbs saw the Korean veteran rattle off 5 consecutive wins with 4 finishes for a well deserved title shot. A seasoned striker with excellent take down defense, Ham is deadly with her vicious punches and knees, she is also well versed on the ground too. Both fighters look in tremendous shape and set for an epic encounter.
Rena Kubota is out for revenge against the lady that spoiled her Bellator debut, Lindsey VanZandt. Rena strikes with pinpoint accuracy and considerable firepower and will need to avoid getting drawn into close quarters exchanges. With 6 of her 7 wins coming by stoppage VanZandt is well rounded and dangerous everywhere, but grappling poses the obvious threat to Rena and VanZandt will be hoping for a replay of their first encounter and another submission win.
2 of Japans top bantamweights, Shintaro Ishiwatari and Hiromasa Ogikubo finally cross paths in a bout that will surely determine the next no.1 challenger for the title. Ishiwatari moves quick and hits hard, he likes to get a read on opponents before firing and has very relaxed and effective counter grappling that allows him to stay standing. While Ogikubo may carry a karate foundation and is certainly adapt on the feet, it is on the mat where he really dominates. With excellent timing on his takedowns once he seizes a leg opponents find themselves on their back defending against passes, strikes and submissions from his relentless top game.
Also on the card, fan favorite Yuki Motoya looks to get back into the win column after falling short in his last outing, a fantastic back and forth war with Hiromasa Ogikubo. Bellators Patchy Mix takes up the challenge and pits his elite level submission skills against Motoya`s. It will be “teepee” leg scissors choke vs “Suloev stretch” in a battle of unorthodox and highly entertaining grapplers.
In the lightweight tournament conclusion, Johnny Case faces off against Tofiq Musaev and Luiz Gustavo meets Patricky Pitbull. The winners clashing later in the evening to determine the champion and next Rizin star.
In additional matches, it is Bellator vs Rizin once more as elder Asakura brother, Mikuru, brings his effective brawling style against John Teixeira. Ex UFC fighter C.B. Dollaway gets a LHW title shot against Jiří Procházka. Judo Olympic medalist Satoshi Ishii raised some eyebrows when he became a Croatian national to train with Cro Cop, he will look to put those skills on display against the exciting Jake “The Honey Bear” Heun. In a battle of top strikers Vitaly “the dancing Russian” Shemetov takes on Simon “Hemlé” Biyong. Miyuu “Queen Bee” Yamamoto`s Freestyle Wrestling pedigree will be on display once more but she may be playing with fire going to the ground with submission specialist Suwanan “Amp The Rocket” Boonson. For kickboxing fans powerhouse KO specialist Taiga rematches boxer turned kickboxer and masterful technician Taiju Shiratori.