Rizin 29 Preview, Bantamweight GP Continues, Plus 4 man One Night Kickboxing Tournament!

Just 2 weeks removed from their outstanding Tokyo Dome show Rizin is back! This Sunday, 27th, Maruzen Intec Arena in Osaka hosts Rizin 29, featuring the continuation of the opening round of the 16 man Rizin Bantamweight GP Tournament. In addition to the MMA GP, Rizin has put together a 4 man Kickboxing One Night Tournament showcasing 4 of Japans elite 61kg Kickboxers. Completing the stacked card, some of Japans finest fighters participate in another 3 Kickboxing matches and 3 MMA matches, independent from the tournaments. 13 scintillating matches, Rizin once again brings the entertainment, excitement and drama. Doors open at at 12:00 and action kicks off at 13:30 JST

English commentary stream is provided by LiveNow



Kickboxing 1 night tournament finals

Match 13: The final match of the evening is reserved for the conclusion of the Rizin KICK One Night Tournament. The Winner of Taiju Shiratori vs Ryo Takahashi challenges the Winner of Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka vs Genji Umeno for the 61kg title.


Bantamweight Tournament Round 1

Match 12: Quintessential Striker vs grappler match up as formidable KO artist Yuto “Kintaro” Hokamura faces crushing wrestler Kuya Ito.

Yuto “Kintaro” Hokamura joins the Asakura brothers and others who came full circle from the “badboy” image of The Outsider org to fully fledged Mixed Martial Artist. After a rocky start as a pro “Kintaro” found his stride and rattled off KO finishes over the likes of Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha on route to challenge for the Pancrase title. The brawler has 9 of his 13 wins coming by T/KO and is 1-1 in Rizin. Holding a Rear Naked Choke over Kenji Kato and losing a split decision to Kenta Takizawa the prolific finisher is a welcome addition to the Tournament.

Grachan Bantamweight Champion Kuya Ito takes a step up to the big stage and will relish the opportunity to make a name for himself. The rugged grinder turned his professional career around from 1 win in 8 bouts to just 1 loss in his last 8. With a strong wrestling base Ito has fought some quality opposition and is savvy in his clinch and grappling control. In a true contrast of styles Ito will attempt to shut down the aggressive striker and drag him into deep water on the mat.


Bantamweight Tournament Round 1

Match 11:  Elite wrestler and seasoned veteran Takafumi Otsuka engages hard hitting Hiroki “Shian” Yamashita.

After losing his bid for a Shooto title, Takafumi Otsuka enters the Rizin GP looking for revenge and an opportunity to showcase his ever improving game. Last outing, in an enthralling war, Otsuka and Ryo Okada fought 5 fiercely competitive rounds as momentum shifted back and forth. Ultimately falling short in a bout much closer than scorecards might suggest, Otsuka utilized his evolved karate style striking in unison with his elite wrestling.

A relative unknown, Hiroki “Shian” Yamashita stamped his ticket to the Rizin GP with a blistering left hook finish of Kazuma Sone at Rizin 27. An underdog, “Shian” has proved a big threat to fighters early, as he unloads and finds his mark right off the bat. With power and heart he can never be counted out and is a better fighter than his record might suggest. Yamashita has a history of fighting outstanding opposition and falling short. Rizin has given him the perfect opportunity to raise his game, go for broke and leave it all in the ring.


Bantamweight Tournament Round 1

Match 10: Trailblazer of Japanese MMA, leg submission wizard  Masakazu “Ashikan Judan” Imanari pits his grappling against dynamic KO hunter Kenta Takizawa.

Masakazu Imanari has passed his 20th year as a professional fighter. His participation in the 1st round of the Rizin tournament will mark his 60th MMA bout. A pioneer of the leg submission game the “10th Dan of Leglocks” stubbornly remained fixated on leg submission at the start of his career to the point where it paid dividends. Defying expectations Imanari revolutionized the role of leg locks, techniques that had been all but written off. Not only did Imanari display their efficiency in MMA, his slick, unorthodox, flashy and acrobatic set ups have since become foundations of modern grappling styles. Rizin, for Imanari, will be another tournament, another fight, but the goal will always be the same, he will be focused on taking home another leg!

At 1-2 in Rizin, rangy heavy hitter Kenta Takizawa has remained competitive even in his losses. Against Hiromasa Ogikubo he had his moments but could not capitalize, the talented Karate stylists constant search for a big strike KO gave away too many opportunities. With a reputation for unleashing furious punches and knees at a fast rate the striker has the potential to take out some of the bigger names. Against 1st round opponent Masakazu Imanari, he would appear to have drawn the short straw, Takizawa has long limbs and attacks non stop, the ground game is also his weak point. This could be a fast finish, a spectacular leg submission or brutal knockout!


Bantamweight Tournament Round 1

Match 9: Greco Roman Wrestling standout Kazuma Kuramoto squares off against BJJ expert Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha.

After a meteoric rise to the top where he rag-dolled opponents, pulling off back to back supplexes for crowds entertainment, Kazuma Kuramoto earned a Shooto title shot. Kuramoto was having his way with the champion early, blasting his way into the clinch, riding the back and pounding away with strikes. Getting too wild with his fists, Kuramoto was caught mid strike by Ryo Okada and put away with ground and pound. After suffering his first loss Kuramoto rebounded with a brutal soccer kick finish of Taiyo Nakahara, setting himself up as one of Rizin’s must watch fighters.

Following his victory at Rizin 27, Kleber Koike Erbst appealed to Sakakibara to allow Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha a chance in the Bantamweight Tournament. A BJJ artist with some hefty ground and pound, Yamaniha has mostly forged his career through the Pancrase organisation, where he has beaten Kenta Takizawa and Takeshi “Kanten” Kasugai. Riding a 3 fight win streak Yamaniha will be confident in his abilities as he makes his Rizin debut. Preferring to fight at a measured pace and control the tempo Yamaniha will be out to contain the whirlwind of aggression Kuramoto brings.


Match 8: Rizin mainstay, the charismatic entertainer Yusuke Yachi gets a tough draw in consistent, strategic Yuki “Tencho” Kawana,

Fan favorite Yusuke Yachi has competed exclusively for Rizin over the last 5 years. Once the face of the organization, riding a 5 fight win streak, a reversal of fortunes has derailed the loyal fighters career and left him with 1 victory in his last 6 bouts. With a reputation for jumping in at the deep end and going for broke, Yachi will stubbornly stick to his style and approach regardless of consequences. Watching him fight is a roller coaster ride of excitement. While his record has suffered, his appeal and fan base are as strong as ever. Coming off a split decision loss to Juri Ohara last outing, expect Yachi to bring his trademark fight style with increased intensity, as he leaves everything in the ring looking for a finish.

Shooto Lightweight Champion, Yuki “Tencho” Kawana has an impressive resume. Taking out a host of Shooto luminaries he rarely falters. An expert at establishing a path to victory, he steadfastly follows the steps until his hand is raised. With exceptional takedown defense Kawana will fend off opponents and unleash his lightning quick hands. A technical fighter, Kawana has honed his skill-set to near perfection and is a deceptively difficult opponent for any Lightweight to get by.  “Tencho” also steps into the Rizin ring coming off a disappointing split decision loss. Falling short to Lightweight Contender Koji Takeda in an exhilarating back and forth war. Both fighters are known to stick to their guns and force their fight as Yachi’s explosive onslaught meets Kawana’s refined accuracy.


Match 7: “Bad Boy” knock out artistRikito “Dark” Shirakawa collides with the one strike firepower of the primed and ready Jin Aoi

Shirakawa is back and ready to stand and bang until someone goes down. The must watch fighter is an expert with combinations designed to turn opponents lights out. In his last outing, a straight right and soccer kick put down notoriously tough veteran Kotetsu Boku in the 3rd. “Dark” usually gets his work done quick though, with a reputation for 1st round stoppages. From the opening bell to the dying seconds of the last round, Shirakawa stays on his feet and hunts the knock out. Expect no less from the Osaka native as he stays true to his style and puts on a brutal performance for his hometown fans.

While not quite as flashy as his opponent, Jin Aoi has consistency and versatility in addition to dynamic power strikes. With a solid well versed MMA foundation to fall back on, Aoi has options. Whether he gets carried into the storm of trading heavy leather or utilizes other facets of his game remains to be seen. Sharing the same last opponent, Aoi went the distance with Kotetsu Boku in a clear cut victory. Also hailing from Osaka, the aggressive fighter will want to live up to the expectations of family, friends and fans. 2 fired up fighters with something to prove chomping on the bit to get their hands on each other! Don’t miss this one!


Match 6:  Speed king striker Yusako Nakamura clashes with slick grappler Daichi Kitakata in a contest of rhythm and tempo.

With masterful control of distance Yusako Nakamura is true to his Kempo roots. Bouncing back and forth he senses rythym and flow, covering distance fast for that decisive blow. While adept in the grappling department, especially defensively, on the feet is where the Nippon Kempo practitioner shines. Unique footwork, implementing quick steps, strides and leaps, bewilder opponents and keep them guessing. Against rising star of the division Tatsuki Saomoto, Nakamura miscalculated and paid the price as a left hook put him down in the first round. Refocused and prepared, Nakamura is back to break his 2 fight slide and get back into the win column

Daichi Kitakata scored a stunning upset to dethrone long reigning Pancrase King Mitsuhisa Sunabe, finishing in the 5th with a slam and ground and pound. A tenacious grappler, the Pancrase Champion hustles and presses until he gets a grip of his opponent. From there he methodically and smoothly transitions until he dominates position and catches a submission. Last fight Kitakata also came across Tatsuki Saomoto, and while he lost the bout he had his moments, going the distance with the surging prospect. While not lacking in the striking department Kitakata has a Judo backbone and falls back on his grappling acumen, making for a fascinating showdown fight night. Nakamura keeps his hands by his side, ready to spring up and strike or to defend a takedown entry. Kitakata only needs to get a hold of something to enter his realm, where the sticky grappler can maintain dominant position standing or on the canvas. Getting a read on their opposition is key for both fighters in this battle of styles.


61kg Rizin KICK One Night Tournament 1st round

Match 5: Tenshin Nasukawa teammate, technician Taiju Shiratori challenges stocky heavy hitter Ryo Takahashi

A clear favorite for the tournament, Rise Lightweight Champion and Rise World Series Champion, Taiju Shiratori has made a name for himself amassing wins against many of the best. With a boxing background the rangy Kickboxer picks opponents apart at a distance. Rattling off rapid combinations he weaves punches through opponents guard. Absorbing punches on the outside opponents are forced to come forward, where they are greeted by lethal knees. Undefeated in Rizin and expected to take the tournament, Shiratori carries some weight on his shoulders when he steps into the ring.

Ryo Takahashi is a Nihon Kickboxing Federation Bantam and Featherweight Champion. While he may not have the prestige and recognition of his adversary, Takahashi carries an almost identical record with identical number of finishes. While less sophisticated in the ring with his weaponry, Takahashi is skilled, carries core strength and fearless aggression. Looping hooks, straights and baseball bat left kicks enable the NKF Champion to do considerable damage in close. The underdog with nothing to lose, Takahashi will be firing on all cylinders. If he can catch Shiratori “cruising” and planning for finals there could be an early upset!


61kg Rizin KICK One Night Tournament 1st round

Match 4: Iron chinned brawler Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka squares off against counter striking pace setter Genji Umeno

While he may not win every match “Kouzi” is a sure contender for best chin in the division. He has faced the heaviest hitters, crashed to the canvas, but always made it back to his feet again to see the final bell. In his last bout he faced a much bigger Takanori Gomi in a custom rules punching only bout, trading in the pocket with the legendary knock out king. His resilience complements his style perfectly. Constantly on the attack Tanaka will take a few just to land one. Deceptively accurate and astute, Tanaka knows how to set up combinations and land with considerable force.

Genji Umeno has collected Thai Boxing titles while fighting a lot of his career in Thailand. The Japanese fight fell short only at the highest level, in both his bids for the coveted Lumpinee stadium title. Umeno has a style more in line with conventional Thai Boxers, efficiently and effectively controlling distance and fighting in sequences. Launching high kicks to the arms, low to legs he waits for opponents to commit then counters very well. With “Kouzi”, Umeno will not have to bait his opponent in to counter. Similarly Tanaka will have ample opportunities to march forward and dish out rapid fire combinations. This fight should bring out the best in  both!


Match 3: Well rounded striking phenom Nadaka Yoshinori tests Chikai Imura’s tight defense and strong fundamentals

Connoisseurs of Thai and Kick Boxing will be extremely happy to see Nadaka Yoshinori return to Rizin. The 20 year old prodigy has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed by the likes of Tenshin Nasukawa and other famous Kickboxers. Yoshinori has amassed an abundance of titles, including Thailands most prestigious, the renowned  Rajadamnern and Lumpinee Boxing Stadium belts. A complete skill set executed with impeccable technique and razor sharp precision and timing, Yoshinori is a finisher. For such a light weight class he has an impressive array of stoppages, through a assortment of techniques. In his last Rizin match the 20 year old showcased his world class striking, dropping top ranked Thai rival Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit 3 times in the first round! Enjoy the Yoshinori show at Rizin 29!

Undeterred by his opponents accomplishments, Chikai Imura steps up to take on the feared striker. At just 20 years old himself, Imura has youthful confidence and finding his stride after a rocky patch. The New Japan Kickboxing Federation Champion is on a 2 fight win streak, most recently achieving vengeance by besting Guriko Sato at BOM WAVE 4. Armed with solid straight punches and proficient kicks, Imura has a tight defense and perseverance, he does not leave many openings and is tough to put away.  Iimura has an excellent chance to steal his esteemed opponents thunder with a win and will be highly motivated and prepared.


Match 2: Boxing prowess of Seiki Ueyama takes on Jyosei Izumi’s timing and aggression

Former Shootboxing Super Bantamweight Champion Seiki Ueyama is coming off 3 consequtive losses for the first time in his career. Determined to get the win, the sharp combination puncher will look to find his tempo, blitz his punches and use his kicks as range finders and back up.  His last Rizin outing, the Shootboxer ran into the formidable Rui Ebata, taking the destructive Kickboxer the distance. While his opponent this time around is no pushover, he does not have the accolades or accomplishments of Ebata. Ueyama has to make the most of the opportunity if he hopes to get back on track.

Jyosei Izumi has competed mostly under the highly regarded New Japan Kickboxing Federation banner. The active fighter is aggressive and excels at drawn out exchanges where he can fire off well timed punches and heavy low kicks. Ever improving, Izumi rides a 2 fight win streak, edging a split decision over the tough Ryota Naito last fight. Against Ueyama, Izumi may engage in a bit of “psychological warfare” to disrupt the flow of the technical puncher. Ueyama, consequently, will look to stay focused and not get drawn into risky shootouts with Izumi in a battle of wills and skills


Match 1: Evenly matched Yuma Yamahata and Kiyoto Takahashi engage in a war of fight IQ and technique

Kiyoto Takahashi competes in both Kick and Thai Boxing, stringing together wins in both disciplines under a variety of organizations. Takahashi makes his Rizin debut on the heels of a win over Yamato Ashikaga for the NKB 62kg strap and sports an excellent record. Not known for his finishes, Takahashi works from great striking foundations to shut opponents out. The younger brother of 4 man tournament participant Ryo Takahashi, Kiyoto knows how to win and has never been finished. Fighting on the same card as his brother, expect Kiyoto Takahashi to leave a lasting impression in his Rizin debut.

Competing mainly for the New Japan Kickboxing Federation, Yuma Yamahata has faced stiff adversaries, including a fair share of Thai’s under Thai Boxing rules. He shifted to the DEEP KICK promotion where he defeated Kensaku Oishi in his last match to capture the 63kg title.

Favoring forward pressure and relying on his strong kicking skills, Yamahata faces an tricky opponent he needs to corner. In a well put together match up, Takahashi brings the angles and punches while Yamahata has the kicks and aggression.


About the Author

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

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