Rizin 26 New Years Eve, Fight Preview Part 3

The final preview of Rizin’s New Years Eve event, bouts 11 through 15, featuring 2 title fights and the biggest names in Japanese MMA.

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

English (Commentary provided by Frank Trigg and Joe Ferraro)


Japanese Broadcast



Kai Asakura vs Kyoji Horiguchi

In the upset that echoed around the MMA world, Kai Asakura dismantled dominant Rizin and Bellator champion Kyoji Horiguchi in just 68 seconds. With finely tuned fighting instincts Asakura hones in on his adversaries and puts them to sleep with precision and power. Following his older brothers meticulously calculated tactics to a tee, the Tri-Force Jiu-Jitsu Academy sharpshooter’s prediction and timing is a game changer. Capturing the Bantamweight strap in sensational fashion, Asakura stopped perennial top contender Hiromasa Ogikubo inside of a round. Now his focus is on a repeat performance of his last encounter with Horiguchi, leaving no doubt as to who the better fighter is.

Kyoji Horiguchi returns to the ring 16 months removed from his heartbreaking loss to Asakura. While knee surgery and rehabilitation has kept him out of action, the former champion is fully healed and ready for a comeback. Horiguchi returns to Rizin a clean slate for perhaps the most important fight of his career. Having lost his Rizin belt and surrendered his Bellator strap, the Karate practitioner enters without the expectations and pressure. In contrast Asakura carries the burden of defending the belt, a psychological factor that adds to the uncertainty. Furthermore, Horiguchi’s training and fight plan remain somewhat of a mystery. The ex-champion will be hoping for a reversal of fortunes to reclaim the belt New Years Eve.


Tenshin Nasukawa vs Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit

There is little that can be said of Tenshin that is not already known. The Japanese superstar is a front runner for the worlds best Flyweight Kickboxer, possibly of all time. After amassing over 100 amateur Kickboxing and full contact Karate wins the “Prodigy” remains undefeated as a professional. Holding an incredible 39-0 record in Kickboxing with 30 coming by way of T/KO, Nasukawa is also 4-0 in MMA. True to his Karate roots, Nasukawa employs speed, circular movement and angles to find his target. Darting in and out of range, every strike thrown by the superstar has fight ending intentions. In his last fight he outclassed Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka to notch another victory over a worthy competitor. New Years Eve will be just another day at the office for Nasukawa, expect another enthralling performance.

Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit has the unenviable task of sharing the ring with the Kickboxing sensation. The Omnoi Stadium and WBC Muay Thai World champion has 150 fights, 122 wins and is a fearsome fighter in his own right. If there is a style that could be problematic for Nasukawa Phetjaroenvit may have it. Opting for power shots the Thai prefers Kickboxing friendly techniques and can end fights with a single blow. Phetjaroenvit has little to lose and a lot to gain in going for broke, closing the distance and landing something explosive. Phetjaroenvit tools could be capable of causing a major upset.


Mikuru Asakura vs Satoshi “Dominator” Yamasu

Tearing through the competition with brutal efficiency, Yamasu is perfectly suited for Rizin rules. Dominator lives up to his name with an aggressive style and impressive finishing rate. With 9 of 11 of the Wizard MMA Gym wins coming by way of stoppage, the former DEEP Champion relentlessly hunts the T/KO. Varying his combinations in sustained surges, “Dominator” invariably breaks through and sends opponents to the canvas. Yamasu lost his DEEP title last outing, snapping a 8 fight win streak and will be eager to get back to his destructive ways.

Older brother Mikuru Asakura is the consummate counter striker, he meticulously studies and strategises and is remarkably effective. The strikers success is due to prediction and timing as much as reflexes and speed. He is coming off a very competitive loss to dominant Shooto Champion Yutaka Saito last outing in a bid for the featherweight title. With the belt falling just out of reach first time around, a victory over a fighter with the stature of Yamasu would put him back in contention.


Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi v Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka

In his prime Takanori Gomi was on top of the worlds lightweight division, ruling the ring. With an iron chin and dynamite in his hands, the “Fireball Kid” left a string of contenders laid out on the canvas. Over the years Gomi may have lost some of his spark but he still retains his fortitude and ferocious power. Rizin have put together an intriguing custom rules bout, permitting boxing with spinning back fists and MMA gloves. The “Fireball Kid”should excel under these rules and he has the kind of opponent that will not shy away from a firefight.

K-1 heavy hitter Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka has a fan friendly go for broke style that is wildly entertaining. In his Rizin debut he was thrown in at the deep end. Pitted against Tenshin Nasukawa, Tanaka was battered but not broken, surviving to the final bell. A resilient striker who never takes a backward step, the custom rules are a perfect fit for the boxing focused “Kouzi”. This match up has all the ingredients for an exhilarating fight as both fighters trade blow for blow.


Ayaka Hamasaki vs Miyuu “Fighting Queen Bee” Yamamoto

Top contender for greatest female fighter of all time, when Megumi Fuji retired she passed the torch to her prodigy Ayaka Hamasaki. A product of AACC gym, renowned for their female fighters, the submission expert has picked up where her mentor left of. A gifted grappler well versed in all facets of MMA, her strong suit is armlocks. Hamasaki’s goal is to clinch, attain a takedown, achieve top position then top it off with an arm submission. The ex-atomweight champion dropped a razor thin split decision to Seo Hee Ham, losing the belt in the process. With the Korean champion unable to defend, Hamasaki finds herself once more vying for the title. A victory over Jewels champion Tomo Maesawa secured a title shot, one which Hamasaki will not let slip through her fingers.

After an illustrious freestyle wrestling career, capturing multiple gold medals at the World Championships, Miyuu Yamamoto decided to try her hand at MMA. With a skill-set leaning heavily in one area “Fighting Queen Bee” has been complementing her phenomenal wrestling with MMA training. Muscular and powerful, the world class wrestler is unstoppable when in her element. Ever improving, the Krazy Bee queen commits to power punching her way into the clinch before executing beautifully executed takedowns. On top Yamamoto is content to stay in guard, maintain control and ground and pound her way to victory. In her last match the wrestling expert completely shut down Suwanan “Amp the Rocket” Boonsorn for a unanimous decision victory. Stylistically, “Fighting Queen Bee”matches up well with Hamasaki, 2 of the AACC standouts losses came in higher weight division against bigger, physically stronger women. If Yamamoto can attain top position and stay safe the underdog could emerge victorious.

About the Author

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

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