Rizin 26 New Years Eve, Fight Preview Part 2

Rizin’s stacked New Years Eve event is split into 3 parts with 2 intermissions with Saitama Super Arena once again plays host. This next preview highlights the 2nd segment of the show, matches 7 through 10.

Catch all the action on PPV, December 31st, 14:00 JST

English (Commentary provided by Frank Trigg and Joe Ferraro)


Japanese Broadcast



Yuki Motoya vs Naoki Inoue

Currently enjoying a 3 fight unbeaten streak, grappling guru Naoki Inoue has also compiled a 2-0 record in Rizin. While he has shown considerable technical prowess on the feet, Inoue’s submission grappling is where he excels. 9 of his 14 wins are submissions and, incredibly, all except 1 were in the opening round. A quick starter, the grappling technician is a ptogressive, positional expert with very few holes to exploit. Once he steals back mount it is a matter of time before opponents succumb to a rear naked choke. Victorious in his last 3 outings the Longo And Weidman MMA fighter made quick work of top tier opponent Shooto Watanabe, finishing with his signature rear naked choke. For his 3rd outing Inoue is pitted against a creative and unorthodox all-rounder noted for their ground game. Inoue will have faith his solid fundamentals and high percentage techniques will bring him the win.

Yuki Motoya owns a multi-faceted fight style highlighted by an outstanding submission game. A versatile and durable fighter, Motoya adapts and adjusts as matches progress and turns up the intensity late in fights. The unconventional fighters cerebral approach has led to a huge variety of T/KO and submission victories. He can blend conventional armbars, guillotines and rear naked chokes with rarely seen hammerlocks and leg scissor “teepee” chokes. On the feet he is stoic and calm, relying on his technical ability and accuracy to picks fighters apart with an ever increasing range of blows. Following a trio of losses Motoya has firmly turned the tide, notching up 3 consecutive victories. With momentum on his side a victory over the highly regarded Inoue would solidify Motoya’s position as a title contender. Excellent matchmaking for this bout promises a treat for grappling connoisseurs and fans of fast paced technical martial artistry.


Kyle Aguon vs Kleber Koike Erbst

Kleber Koike Erbst makes his highly anticipated Rizin debut. The BJJ ace trains alongside brothers Marcos and Roberto Satoshi Souza at Bonsai JuJitsu in Iwata. Unsurprisingly 21 of his 25 wins are by submission, with an additional 2 finishes coming by way of T/KO. Last match Erbst became the first fighter to stop Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura, submitting the notoriously durable striker with a Spinning Choke/ D`Arce in the very 1st round. A highly experienced competitor who has fought and taken titles at numerous organizations worldwide, Erbst is back in Japan, eager to put his submission mastery on display.

In contrast to his opponent, Kyle Aguon sticks to well grounded fundamentals. Strong and with an iron clad defense, the Guam native rarely strays out of position or leaves an opening for his opposition. Pressing his oppoents to initiate the Spike 22 fighter shuts opponents down and then punishes with counters. His air tight defense has not let him down, having never been finished. Coming off a decision loss to Vugar Kyaramov in his Rizin debut, Aguon finds himself on a 2 fight skid requiring an essential victory. Fighting someone with a polar opposite style, Aguon’s game may turn out to be the aggressive submission wizards kryptonite.


Kyohei “Kenka Bancho” Hagiwara vs Ren Hiramoto

In his last appearance Kyohei Hagiwara scored a big upset in sensational style when he traded blow for blow with durable heavy hitter Yojiro Uchimura. The lean Team Smoker KO specialist shellacked his foe, laying him out cold in a wild exchange that lasted just 22 seconds. “Kenka Bancho” is a quintessential MMA striker, laying waste to opponents. Every one of his wins has come by T/KO, and, conversely, all his losses are by submission. Entering the Rizin ring once again Hagiwara clashes with a “pure” striker. Chomping on the bit to get his hands on his big name foe, “Kenka Bancho” would love nothing more than to show that MMA striking is not the same as K-1. Expect the KO machine to stick to his guns and brawl, taking out a huge name in the world of Kickboxing would be a massive feather in his cap.

Standing across for Hagiwara when the bell sounds will be Kickboxing superstar Ren Hiramoto. When it comes to K-1, Hiramoto’s accolades are truly impressive. The Kickboxing superstar doesn’t only hit hard but has an inate ability to capitalize on any opportunity and produce a spectacular finish. A sensational T/KO of dominant Champion Kaew Weerasakreck was a massive upset that provided a stepping stone to mainstream recognition. Last outing the K-1 wrecking ball participated in the Bellator/ Rizin co-promotion, outclassing a game Takahiro Ashida in a Kickboxing rules bout. Competing out of K-1 Gym Headquarters Team Pegasus Hiramoto is a different breed of striker than his adversary. Under MMA rules his formidable striking has yet to be unleashed and he has a perfect match up to test the waters against. Expect fireworks, both have dynamite in their strikes and neither has been T/KOd. Don’t blink for this one.


Hideo Tokoro vs Shinobu Ota

Known for his fan friendly style of seamless transitions and acrobatic submission holds, expect the unexpected when Tokoro steps into the ring. While submissions are his forte, the entertaining grappler is also a very capable striker and fearless in exchanges. Last appearing in 2017 Tokoro fell victim to the thunderous striking of one of the worlds elite, Kyoji Horiguchi. The loss prompted a break away from MMA for the submission master. The submission master stayed active however, immersed in No-Gi Grappling Tokoro has maintained a hectic competitive schedule. New Years Eve offers the perfect opportunity for the Submission wizard to put the fruits of his intensive grappling training on show.

Shinobu Ota tries his hand at MMA after reaching the pinnacle of Greco Roman wrestling. Capturing Silver at the 2016 Olympics, Ota went on to claim Gold at the World Championships in 2019. With an additional collection of Asian Tournament medals the Greco Roman stand out is undoubtedly a world class athlete. For his cross over to MMA, Ota has been diligently preparing at various gyms to round out his game. The Greco Roman powerhouse is acutely aware of his strengths and limitations and will be prepared to contain the whirlwind submission specialist Tokoro.

About the Author

Peter Leghorn
Writer and photographer sharing my passion for Martial Arts.

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