Rizin 43 Preview. This Saturday (24th) Broadcast Free on Youtube!

Rizin 43 has been somewhat overshadowed by the colossal Rizin vs Bellator 2 event just around the corner. While not having the star power of the July’s copromotion Rizin’s inaugural venture into Hokkaido is stacked with intriguing, well matched fights that promise a bit of everything. 13 matches grace the main card with an additional 4 preliminaries, showcasing the caliber of fighters fans have come to expect. Get ready for another sensational  event, loaded with electrifying matches!

Doors at Makomanai Sekisui Heim Ice Arena in Hokkaido open at 12:30pm, with a 2:00pm start time (JST) tomorrow, June 24th (Sat). 

Tickets can be purchased from eplus –  ib.eplus.jp

For fans around the world Rizin 43 will be broadcast free on Rizin’s official Youtube Channel! 



#13 Featherweight Title Match Kleber Koike vs. Chihiro Suzuki (66kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Kleber Koike Erbst has proven nigh unbeatable in Rizin. With 5 back to back submissions the grappling wizard claimed the Featherweight title with his trademark triangle choke. Last outing, at Bellator vs Rizin, Erbst could not implement his game against formidable striker Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. In his first title defence expect the Bonzai JuJitsu submission machine to get back to what he does best and settle for nothing less than another tap out.

Enjoying a 5 fight win streak Chihiro Suzuki will try to pull off the seemingly impossible feat of stopping the dominant JuJitsu force. Cutting his teeth in MMA, Suzuki carved out a remarkable Kickboxing career, where he came into his own as a prolific finisher. Savage striking and takedown defence are the foundations of Suzuki’s style as he picks his moments to pile on the pressure. In 13 professional fights the striker’s submission defense has been impenetrable, though he has not faced a grappler the level of the champion. Carrying momentum and confidence Suzuki will be unfazed by his opponents reputation as he looks to score another blistering KO. 

Suzuki may have filled out to a sizable Featherweight but as a former 125lb and 135lb fighter, he will likely not have a weight or strength advantage on Erbst. The Featherweight King has competed at Lightweight and has girth and power. Erst is very specific about his fight camp preparation and timing of fights and always comes prepared to drag fighters into deep water and tap them out. Suzuki has range, something he uses remarkably well, Erbst has been caught by less decorated strikers before but weathered the storm. The fight could be determined quickly, can Suzuki pull off a monumental upset or will it be another case of “rinse and repeat” as Erbst moves through the motions and chokes another fighter to sleep?


#12 Yusuke Yachi vs. Zach “God’s Warrior” Zane (71kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Rizin mainstay Yusuke Yachi was once a star attraction, carrying the weight of expectations on his shoulders. While his reputation has taken a hit, Yachi is still a major draw for the promotion. The “Fighting Wrestler” has a style that appeals to fans, and a “Samurai Spirit”, putting everything on the line from the opening bell. After fighting a who’s who of the Lightweight division, Yachi gets a well deserved break from being put through the wringer. In a successful comeback bout against Boyd Allen, Yachi still sought a stoppage but fought more intelligently, following the tide of the fight rather than forcing. Expect Yachi to still have his killer instinct, and fighting less recklessly may just open the doors for stoppages. 

Zach Zane may not be the best known of opponents, nor carry the best record, his Rizin debut was a submission loss to Koji Takeda, he is, however, an opponent not to be overlooked. With stoppages in 14 of his 15 wins, Zane is a dangerous opponent who takes chances and goes for broke. His submission acumen in particular is something to be wary of as he expertly mixes chokes and leg attacks for the finish. Backed against the wall with little to lose, “God’s Warrior” would love nothing more than to get back into the win column and take out one of Rizin’s stars in the process. 

Zane may be the firm underdog but his “kill or be killed” attitude and slew of stoppage wins makes him a bit of a loose cannon! Yachi always delivers in Rizin and will be all action, keeping the fans on their seats. The Japanese fighter must be vigilant though as any rash decisions could have dire consequences!


#11 Hideki “Shrek/Big Body” Sekine vs. Mikio Ueda (120kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Fan favourite Hideki Sekine has cross over appeal, having competed in MMA, BJJ and Pro Wrestling. Recognised for his “Big Body” and big heart, “Shrek” leaves it all in the ring every match. After his leg was torn off and reattached during a car accident as a child Sekine took to Judo strengthening body and mind at prestigious Judo university Yamanashi Gakuin. No longer on crutches, no longer bullied, Sekine developed into a physical specimen. Having a respectful 4 fight win streak snapped by Tsuyoshi Sudario last time out, Sekine will be keen to implement his reaps and supplex takedowns to secure another ground and pound stoppage.

Kyokushin Karate world champion Mikio Ueda made the leap to MMA in 2022, squaring off against MMA pioneer Tsuyoshi “TK” Kosaka. TK capitalised on the Karateka’s tendency to favour kicks and knees, countering with punches that sent the massive striker reeling to the canvas. The somewhat shocking turn of events saw the “grappler” finish the “striker” by TKO. Ueda settled his nerves for his following bout, delivering a spectacular left head kick to ground and pound stoppage of Mu Jae Sone, finally displaying the kind of striking skills at his disposal.

In what appears a quintessential grappler vs striker match there are a few factors that could flip the script. “Shrek” may be a slow Heavyweight as age, a pituitary adenoma (gigantism) and remnants from childhood injury have collectively taken their toll on his speed. “Big Body” does possess immense power though and likes to strike his way into grappling range. Ueda was preparing for fellow striker “Juggernaut” Cally Gibrainn and may find Sekine’s threat of takedown and unorthodox striking problematic early. The Kyokushin specialist will have considerable speed and technique advantage on the feet and may take over late. Regardless of the victor, when these Heavyweights collide do not expect it to go the distance!


#10 Hiroaki “General Killer” Suzuki vs. Taisei Nishitani (66kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

It would be safe to say that Shootboxing banger Hiroaki Suzuki has not quite yet found his rhythm in MMA. Delivering solid, competitive performances “General Killer” is 2-3 in Rizin. Falling short on the judges’ scorecards in every loss the powerhouse has conversely scored a sensational T/KO for every win. The Bonzai Gym striking coach will no doubt have been fine tuning his game and making the adjustments needed. be determined to show his Karate 

DEEP Featherweight Taisei Nishitani makes his Rizin debut on the heels of 2 victories over tough opposition. A grappler from Tri Force JuJitsu Academy, 4 of Nishitani’s 6 wins have come by way of submission. Possessing an arsenal of chokes from every position Nishitani will be aiming to bring his experience and ground game into play. 

Has Suzuki learnt enough training with the Souza brothers to fend off the submissions? Can Nishitani handle the force coming his way on the feet? A grappler vs striker match up not to be missed!


#9 Genji “King” Umeno vs. Hiroki Suzuki (62.5kg – RIZIN Kickboxing (elbows allowed) rules [3min × 3R])

Decorated Thai Boxer Genji Umeno has amassed titles overseas and in Japan. The 15 year professional once held the Ramadajan belt and vied for the Lumpinee stadium title twice, the sports highest accomplishment. Falling short by decision in both attempts, Umeno has since continued to face some of the sport’s finest strikers. Going 1-2-1 in Rizin, Umeno will want to make a statement, and at just 34, a career resurgence could well be on the cards for “King” Umeno.

With experience fighting for in Rebels, Krush, Knock Out, Khaos and even Pancrase Kickboxing, Hiroki Suzuki has secured a reputation as a fierce competitor and adept finisher. Utilising short range knees and hooks, the Rebels 60kg Champion excels in the pocket. Coming off a victory over Rizin competitor Reito Bravely, Suzuki is ready to make his mark. 

An intriguing bout in which range will likely be the key to success. Umeno has solid Kicks and maintains a steady tempo, throwing and exiting or throwing and clinching. Suzuki is devastating in close and throws in combinations. The finishing instincts of Suzuki may be more honed and Ueno typically does not like constant pressure. The addition of elbows makes the “in-fighting” a little different to typical Kickboxing. Who will implement their strategy and pull ahead?  


#8 Minoru“Philip”Kimura vs. Daryl Lokuku (73kg – RIZIN Kickboxing rules [3min × 3R])

The immense power generated by Minoru Kimura is a sight to behold. Many of the worlds best have been paired against him and folded under the weight of his blows. Thai Boxer Kuntap Charoenchai was Kimura’s most recent victim, flat out on the canvas in just 32 seconds. In fact the last time “Phillip” went the distance was 17 fights and 5 years ago. A consummate finisher Kimura has forged a career out of timing “Ichigeki” single strike Knockouts.

Watching Daryl Lokuku fight it is hard to imagine that his roots are in Judo. Known for his firepower on the feet, Lokuku has brawled with top strikers under a variety of rules, including the brutal bare knuckle Lethwei, and emerged on top. Fighting out of the Honey Trap gym in Japan, the Congo native has no qualms about throwing down on the feet, with 5 of his 11 wins coming by way of T/KO. Rizin Kickboxing rules would seem a perfect fit for the fearless fighter who will be firing on all cylinder from the get-go!

Given his penchant for engaging in a firefight and throwing defence out the window, Lokoku would appear to be the perfect dance partner for 1 punch KO artist Kimura. Lokuku starts fast and  Kimura similarly wastes little time hunting for a finish, this bout guaranteed fireworks for as long as it lasts!


#7 Yuta Kubo vs. Karate Kinoshita (66kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Yuta Kubo has had a storied career as a Kickboxer. A champion at welterweight, featherweight and bantamweight, the technician has fought for Japan’s most respected Kickboxing organisations. Additionally he is a Glory tournament Champion and even scored 2 T/KO’s Thai Boxing in Radajaman stadium. In his prime arguably one of the most technically skilled and well rounded strikers in his class. Scoring his first MMA match last outing with brutal elbows on the ground, Kubo has drawn a good adversary to showcase the tools of his trade.

As his name would imply, Takeaki “Karate” Kinoshita hails from a full contact karate background. While his record may not look impressive at first glance, all 6 of Kinoshita’s pro wins, and both his amateur victories have come by way of TKO. Sporting a 100% finishing rate, “Karate” does his damage on the feet and he does it fast, 7 of his 8 crushing T/KOs have come in the opening stanza. 

Kinoshita has more MMA experience and undoubtedly an edge in the grappling department. Will the consummate finisher resort to taking the fight to the ground though? Ego may play a large part in how the bout plays out. Kinoshita may not have the credentials of Kubo when it comes to pure striking but MMA striking with small gloves, a blitz early could phase Kubo, who prefers to work his way into fights. With high chances of a Knockout, fans of aggressive striking are in for a treat! 


#6 Saori Oshima vs. Haruka “Salt” Hasegawa (52.5kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Saori Oshima possesses some of the best transitional groundwork in the game, relentlessly hitting submissions from every angle. In her last performance, Oshima was all over opponent Ye Rin Hong. Twisting, turning and scrambling to come out in advantageous positions the submission specialist relentlessly attacked the arms, securing the straight armbar in the 2nd round. The Judoka has tapped many of the best and is going from strength to strength, fight after fight. 

The rangy Haruka “Salt” Hasegawa has made a name for herself with excellent striking and a strong base. Never over extending or going out of position “Salt” leaves little for opponents to capitalise on. In her last venture to the cage Hasegawa scored a career high as she took the Pancrase Strawweight Championship, defeating “Karen” for the 2nd time. A fighter also developing in leaps and bounds, “Salt” has a lot of tools at her disposal.

With the striking edge going to “Salt” and the grappling Oshima, the game plans for both will be no secret. Oshima will be competing at a weight class up and Hasegawa is not small for her weight class. The physically stronger “Salt” will have range and size firmly on her side, Oshima, however, has constantly faced larger foes and the Judoka will be prepared. Who will prevail come fight night?


#5 Suguru Nii vs. Tateo Iida (66kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Submission master Suguru Nii has had a tough time in Rizin, going winless in both his outings. Back to back 1st round arm locks and a shocking leg scissor choke of Michihiro Omigawa in a grappling bout and Nii is ready once more to prove himself in the Rizin ring.

Reaching the pinnacle, Tateo Iida fell short at the last hurdle to obtain the coveted Shooto Featherweight strap, succumbing to a monstrous spinning back elbow. Stretchered out of the cage, Iida makes his return just 3 months later. 


#4 Tetsuya Seki vs. Raiki Endo (66kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Well versed MMA fighter Reiki Endo looks to turn the tide after a loss to Ryo Takagi. A go for broke fighter who has stood up against some stiff competition, Endo has had it rough as of late. Much in need of a win, Endo will not hold back and take the fight to his opponent.

Hard hitter Tetsuya Seki challenges himself once more in the Rizin ring, after falling short on the scorecards to Yoshiki Nakahara. In a similar vein to his adversary, Seki is a skilled all-rounder. The main factor separating both would be Seki’s slight preference for using strikes to get his work done. Seki will not have to go looking for his opponent which should result in another electrifying bout.  


#3 Trent Thomas “Niño Loco” Girdham vs. Joji Goto (61kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Desperately seeking his first win in Rizin, Trent Girdham rebounded from a disappointing leg injury loss to choke out Kushal Vyas and earn his way back to the big show. With Kickboxing, Boxing and Shootboxing experience “Niño Loco” is an exciting fighter always working for a finish.

Joji Goto has a lot of good wins on his resume but succumbed to a nasty heelhook from resident leglock specialist Takuma “The Leg Hunter” Sudo. Goto will be looking to get back on track and introduce himself to the Rizin audience. With a striking background Goto matches well with Girdham, let the fists fly!


#2 Marina Kumagai vs. Aoi Kuriyama (61kg – RIZIN MMA rules [5min × 3R])

Kickboxer Marina Kumagai started her MMA career unceremoniously, losing her first 3 bouts. Since then she has balanced the scales with 3 consecutive wins, plus a Kickboxing victory added for good measure. Talented on the feet, Kumagai clashes with solid all-rounder Aoi Kuriyama who had her 3 fight undefeated run ended by elite powerhouse flyweight Rin Nakai. Both ladies have a perfect chance to make an impression in an evenly matched bout.


#1 Kensei Yamakawa vs. Ryoga Hirano (57.5kg – RIZIN Kickboxing rules [3min × 3R])

Kickboxers get the main card going with a bout in Japan’s stacked 57kg range. Kenshin Yamakawa has had rough patches in his career but has constantly bounced back, taking a decision win over Shuto Miyazaki last outing. Ryoga Hirano similarly bested his last foe, claiming a decision over Taiki Sawatani. Both Kickboxers have fought for premier Japanese organisations and are known for their aggressive styles!

OPENING FIGHT #4 Toshiki Watanabe vs. Kento Azumi (71kg – RIZIN MMA special rules [5min × 2R])

OPENING FIGHT #3 Daiki Maruyama vs. Suguru Hayasaka (55kg – RIZIN MMA special rules [5min × 2R])

OPENING FIGHT #2 Aito vs. Ryuya Koide (61.5kg – RIZIN Kickboxing rules [3min × 3R])

OPENING FIGHT #1 Syouki Hoshikubo vs. Ganbare! Furukawakun (58kg – RIZIN Kickboxing rules [3min × 3R])

About the Author

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

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