Rizin 45, Stellar Performances, Definitive Matches and an Emotional Farewell.

17. Flyweight Title Match -RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (57.0kg)

Kyoji Horiguchi Defeated Makoto Shinryu by submission (RnC, 2R 3:44)

Shinryu showed his cards early, surging forward and pushing Horiguchi to the corner ropes. The former BW champ displayed textbook defence, sprawling with hips back but somehow Shinryu was able to cut an angle and score a hard fought takedown. From the back striking specialist Horiguchi was able to show his well rounded grappling skills, threatening with a guillotine, adjusting for the perfect angle. Adept at submission defense and offence Shinryu denied Horiguchi the correct angle for the submission as he continued to control from the top. A strong ground specialist, Shinryu has some of the best scrambles in the business and was all over Horiguchi with takedowns, back and top control. With 30 seconds to go Horiguchi looked for his own takedown but was reversed instantly as Shinryu fired off strikes and finished strong.

Horiguchi came into the 2nd roud like a fighter who knew they were falling behind. A lightning fast right high kick and straight right caught Shinryu enough to drop him, a soccer kick missed its mark and before long the speedy wrestler was on his feet again. A sweep from Horiguchi was again countered by a beautiful Makikomi roll from the turtle position. Sitting up to top position Shinryu sought mount before settling in open guard. Deft at escaping from his back, Horiguchi again got to his feet and unloaded. Lefts, rights, uppercuts, the Karate stylist unloaded with explosive power and pinpoint accuracy. Shinryu returned fire, chasing the former champion across the ring. Both fighters showing signs of fatigue, Horiguchi went for his own takedown and this time, Shinryu’s reversal was hampered by the ring ropes. After softening his opponent with ground and pound Horiguchi moved his left arm across the chin. As Shinryu stood and tried to break the Rear Naked Choke the arm slipped under the chin and, impossible to escape, Shinryu tapped at … of the 2nd round. 

Jubilant, Horiguchi sounded elated as he let his emotion out. After congratulating his tough opponent and offering to train with him, the inaugural Flyweight champion capped off his stellar 2023 with a proposal, not to fight, but to marry his girlfriend Natsuki Kawamura. The Rizin ambassador and former ring girl accepted, to the relief of all in attendance! While a new chapter of his life awaits, expect the same formidable fighter to defend his title early in 2024!

16. Bantamweight Title Match – RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (61.0kg)

Kai Asakura Defeated Juan Archuleta by TKO (Ground and Pound, 2R 3:20)

Unfinished business set the tone for Rizin’s prestigious Bantamweight title match. Kai Asakura and Juan Archuleta were unable to lock horns when an injured Asakura dropped out of contention. Archuleta went on to defeat Hiromasa Ogikubo in a competitive war of attrition and take the coveted Bantamweight title.

In a wild opening flurry Archuleta stormed across the ring with fists flying. Asakura met him square on and as they both traded. Archuleta sent the Japanese fighter to the canvas briefly before a reversal saw the American fighter on his back. Once they returned standing both once again were firing on all cylinders. Asakura got the better blows in, a blistering right hand to the chin that had his opponent on skates, unable to coordinate his feet. Not one to back down Archuleta kept coming, throwing his own continuous barrage. Regretfully 3 punches after the bell by Archuleta while the referee had already moved between fighters soured an otherwise fantastic round. 

In the 2nd stanza Archuleta made a stance, holding ground while utilizing a crisp jab to the advancing Asakura. A bloodied Asakura was wearing the damage on his face but unrelenting in his determination as he lunged forward with leaping hooks and straights. With 2 minutes left in the round a jumping knee from the Japanese sniper caught Asakura coming in 

15. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (66.0kg)

Kleber Koike Erbst Defeated Hiro Saito by Submission (Darce Choke, 3R 1:22)

Clearly Koike’s intentions were to get the fight to the mat yet to do so distance would have to be closed. With a mixture of drawing his adversary in and pushing him back Koike fished for an opportunity to get the fight to where he does his best work. Saito fought smart, maintaining range the well rounded fighter needed to be careful, avoiding getting too close while seeking to do damage. When not chopping at the legs Saito used a safe strategy of grabbing legs and sweeping or countering with a straight hand. with deceptive speed for a big FW, Koike bounced in his Karate style, with high and low kicks. Saito cut out the rear leg and swept Koike, choosing to deliver kicks to the downed submission guru rather than join him. As the time ticked down Saito picked up the momentum with crosses and hooks. At the end of the 1st Koike appeared frustrated, taunting his foe to engage.

In the following round Koike drove forward and continued to do so. Getting and entry to a double leg, the submission grappler scored a takedown and moved to mount. Saito recovered guard, went to butterfly hooks and pushed off to stand. Another Koike takedown attempt had Saito score a reversal where he rained down hammerfists while in opponents guard. Taking damage on his back Koike could not secure any kind of submission but achieved a textbook butterfly sweep in the last 20 seconds. 

In the final stanza Koike bailed on a double leg takedown and instead dropped to his back in deep ½ guard. Returning to his feet Saito defended well but made the ill advised decision to go for a takedown of his own. Instinctively latching on the guillotine Koike then reversed and locked up a Spinning Choke/ Darce. It was tight and as much as Saito tried to defend he succumbed to the squeeze and went unconscious at 1:22 of the final stanza. 

Saito appeared to be on his way to another decision win, played with fire and got burnt. Koike has highlighted time and time again that going to the ground with him will not bode well. 28 of his 32 wins are now by submission with 2 T/KOs making him one of the most dangerous fighters on the Rizin roster

14. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (66.0kg)

Ren Hiramoto Defeated Ren “YA-MAN” Sugiyama by Decision (Unanimous, 3-0)

A match that had hard core fight fans salivating as soon as it was announced, former K-1 knockout artist Hiramoto collided with “King of the Streets”, technical brawler Ya-Man. Announcing his Rizin arrival in style, “Ya-Man” walked out with a group of exotic dancers then demolished the game Kota Miura in the opening round. Fresh off a 1st round stoppage of Mikuru Asakura in Kickboxing “Ya-Man’s” reputation hit a peak. Hiramoto shocked the world when he pulled off the huge upset by not only defeating Kaew Weerasakreck but knocking him out. Receiving the invite to Rizin Hiramoto notched a quick Kickboxing victory over Takehiro Ashida before committing himself to MMA, where he went 2-3 against top competition.

After a glamorous entrance “Ya-Man” got down to business, throwing lefts and rights without hesitation. A technician with precision, speed and power, Goketsu-Kai Karate stylist Hiramoto moved just enough to evade and countered with straight lefts from the southpaw stance. Testing the waters Hiramoto scored a takedown but could do little with it. Back on their feet “Ya-Man” pressed against the ropes, threw knees and loaded up on huge elbows on the exit. In the final seconds, unflinching, both fighters traded blows with knockout power, simultaneously ducking, weaving and dodging. 

MMA acumen was tested again in the 2nd stanza as Hiramoto scored takedowns and Sugiyama fought back to his feet. Never taking a step backwards “Ya-Man” marched into the fray, throwing hooks and straights. Hiramoto was slick with his counters, always a hair’s breadth out of range; his straight left hand landed frequently mixed with intermittent kicks. In the fiery exchanges, the chins of both fighters held up to massive blows as each took turns throwing heavy leather. As the fight progressed it was clear that the head movement and pinpoint accuracy of Hiramoto was coming out on top. A final counter takedown from Hiramoto kept his foe grounded until the final bell. 

In the 3rd round, “Ya-Man” was showing signs of damage. Unsteady on a reddened front leg with blood around the face the brawler still continued to search for that one fight ending punch. An Outer Reap takedown from Hiramoto frustrated his adversary who once again had to clamber up to his feet. After a doctor check on “the King of the Streets” it was do or die. Searching for high kicks “Ya-Man” brawled hoping to catch the chin or Hiramoto. The former K-1 star picked his shots just out of range then clinched and went for takedowns in close. A final edge of your seat blitz by both ensued as the fight concluded.

After the sensational match, Hiramoto downplayed the victory while praising “Ya-Man”. In tears, the “King of the Streets” was dejected, clearly upset at losing to his nemesis. Hiramoto concluded by calling out Mikuru Asakura once again, stating that he will knock out the former champion and youtube sensation. 

13. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (49.0kg)

Izawa Seika Defeated Miyuu Yamamoto by submission (RnC, 2R 0:37)

For her retirement match, decorated wrestler Miyuu Yamamoto, elder sister of the late Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto chose Rizin champion, submission guru and Rizin champion Seika Izawa. 

Yamamoto showed no fear in taking the fight to the ground, hoisting Izawa in the air and dropping her with an immaculately timed double leg. Izawa latched on to the guillotine and proceeded to crank on the neck of the wrestling phenom. Yamamoto endured and praised her head free where she delivered some efficient ground and pound. Izawa tried to find a small window to work her submission magic but was denied at every attempt. A stand up led to another easy single leg for Yamamoto who shut down another guillotine attempt. The bell sounded with both on their feet after a final standup. 

In the 2nd round Izawa came out like a champion, pushing the pace and creating a scramble the submission ace angled out of a single leg just enough to grab the neck for a “hookless” rear naked choke. Izawa intertwined her leg around Yamamoto’s, hindering escape as the blood was cut off.  After a valiant effort Yamamoto tapped, bringing a close to the fight and her career. The submission queen had bested the wrestling queen. 

Had women’s MMA been more lucrative and recognised during her era of wrestling dominance there is little doubt Yamamoto could have been a champion.  Thanking her fans, coaches and family Yamamoto’s illustrious career came to an end at 49 years of age. Izawa pledged to carry the torch for women’s MMA. Expect more sensational submissions from the undefeated Atomweight champion. 

12. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (120.0kg)

Mikio Ueda Defeated Tsuyoshi Sudario by TKO (Ground and Pound, 2R 0:55)

For heavyweight fighters both Ueda and Sudario were fast on the feet, moving incredibly well. Kicks were the staple of Kyokushin Karate champion Ueda’s attacks through the opening round. Front, side, leg and question mark/ “roundhouse neck kicks” shot at considerable speed toward the former Sumo wrestler. Sudario found closing distance tough but, when he did, was able to clock Ueda with a heavy straight hand. Ueda survived a takedown and was able to return standing, where he continued to implement his hard to read arsonal of kicks. 

Sudario and Ueda got busy in the following round, Ueda came close with quick knees before trading fists. From southpaw Ueda launched a knee then a kick as Sudario fell just short with his hands. The high kick Ueda had been searching for landed as his opponent dropped levels. Though only the knee landed it was enough to floor Sudario who ate some hammerfists as the referee came to his aid.   

11. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (57.0kg)

Hiromasa Ogikubo Defeated John “The Musician” Dodson by Decision (Unanimous 3-0)

Former UFC Flyweight title challenger and Bare Knuckle FC champion, Dodson entered his 3rd Rizin fight a consummate and deadly striker. With a victory over current UFC Flyweight champion Ogikubo brought top shelf grappling combined with full contact Karate to the table. 

In the first round, Ogikubo took command of the center of the ring, applying pressure to the southpaw Dodson while awaiting a reaction. Dodson bounced on his feet knowing that correct timing would be pivotal. Ogikubo achieved the clinch he had been waiting for as he pushed Dodson into the corner and executed a takedown. Passing to side control, working for openings, Ogikubo attempted armlocks while maintaining excellent control. Methodical and well timed punches peppered Dodson until the Japanese fighter seamlessly took mount. Pummeled by ground and pound Dodson had little answer to his opponent’s ground game as the first round concluded. 

The following round kicked off with Dodson seeking to establish jabs and straight hands while not over committing. Ogikubo remained content to fire kicks at range and initiate clinches as soon as his opponent closed distance. Diving straight hands from the American came close but he struggled to find the mark. Clearly wary of his opponents striking prowess Ogikubo fought smart, shutting down his opponents techniques while scoring with a continuous array of kicks. Sensing he needed to adapt, Dodson flipped the script and tried to take Ogikubo down, leading to an entertaining exchange of positions.

Upping the aggression to start the round Dodson rattled off 1-2 combinations. Ogikubo avoided the brunt of the strikes as he continued to tee off with kicks. With a small cut on Ogikubo’s nose from a possible class of heads Ogikubo was tenacious with the clinches and takedown attempts. While Dodson was able to ward off the grappling of his opponent he was unable to get his own game going. Winging hooks, crescent kicks, high kicks, Ogikubo was sharp off his lead left leg and threw power with the right, keeping the knockout artist at bay. The round concluded with Ogikubo on offence, throwing a baseball swing hook and high kick combination.

All judges sided with Ogikubo who sealed a dominant win over a fighter many considered a favourite for title contention. Tactically keeping Dodson at bay with the Karate kicks and big swings, Ogikubo controlled the real estate and grappling exchanges. Other than the opening stanza Dodson was in little trouble but unable to mount attacks needed to win the bout. With his first win in 2 years, Ogikubo reversed a 3 fight skid of decision losses, aiming to rebuild his career moving into 2024.

10. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (61.0kg)

Vince Morales Defeated Yuki Motoya by Decision (Unanimous 3-0)

Morales wasted no time in engaging with the infamously slow starting Motoya. Peppering with punches, Morales’s goal was more to get Motoya on the defense rather than land with big power. A fighter that likes to absorb and analyse, Motoya could not find his timing and while never really in danger he gave up a fair bit of ground as the first round concluded. 

In the second the furious pace continued. The much larger, more muscled fighter Morales continued to tt off on his opponent against the ropes. Motoya covered up well, answering with sharp and accurate hooks to the chin. The aggression was tipped highly on Morales’s side as he threw multiple times more than Motoya. Scoring 2 takedowns in the round, the Japanese submission specialist uncharacteristically could not capitalise and take the back in the scrambles. Morales was able to get to his feet and continue with an onslaught of punch, kick and knee combinations. It was a better round for Motoya, who landed left hooks flush but still he was falling behind on output. 

Picking up the tempo in the final stanza Motoya had ground to make up as he pursued his foe with straights and hooks. Covering up at the right times the Japanese all rounder was not taking damage while finding a home for the hooks and straights. A slick takedown from Motoya as he attempted to take the back in the scramble once again. Morales defended and slipped out, dropping elbows until the fighters went to their feet. A guillotine choke from Morales had Motoya on defence until the veteran escaped and controlled position. With a minute remaining Motoya again failed with the back take and had to work free from a Spinning Choke/ Darce. Reigning down strikes as the 3rd round concluded it was too late for Motoya who was out hustled for much of the match. 

Morales picked a big win in his Rizin debut, the Japanese Top Team representative showing he is the complete package. Motoya, far from a physical fighter, gave up too much ground and lost a competitive decision. A trip back to 125lbs may be in order for Motoya, who has struggled with the bigger BW fighters. 

9. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (61.0kg)

Shinobu Ota Defeated Ryusei Ashizawa by TKO (Ground and Pound, 1R 2:21)

Olympic wrestler Shinobu Ota clashed with elite Kickboxer in a classic grappler vs striker match up. 

Not falling for the feints from the striker, Ota drove home a perfectly executed double leg takedown to take the match into his realm. On the mat Ashizawa did well to get his guard back though it seemed that Ota was unconcerned of position, as long as he maintained the top. Ashizawa threw elbows from the bottom until Ota pressed to side, using the position to pull the Kickboxer into a Spinning Choke/ Darce. Showing that he possessed some knowledge of submission defence Ashizawa tried to stay on “all 4’s” and out of danger. The Olympian rolled to his back and, grip secure, took the striker with him. Ashizawa looked like he was about to tap before Ota seemingly let go. Unclear whether he was out or not the wrestler delivered a few punches on the mat until there was no doubt. 

8. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 2 rounds (65.0kg)

Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka Defeated Kota Miura by TKO (Soccer Kicks, 2R 0:59) 

A fan favourite Kickboxer, Kouzi made his MMA debut against another popular Japanese celebrity, Kota Miura, son of soccer superstar Miura. 

Miura, light on his feet, gradually inched Kouzi back to the ropes before stunning him with a solid straight right hand. Waiting for the range to close Kouzi answered back with a left hook. A tense opening round on the feet saw momentum slowly shift towards the more experienced Kouzi who rattled Miura with a massive left hook. In the last 30 seconds a combination from Kouzi against the ropes prompted a change of levels by Miura. On the ground however the Kickboxer stayed in a dominant position and delivered some short strikes as the bell sounded. 

In the 2nd and final round Miura went for his first takedown of the match. Kouzi proved to have a strong base though and after defending the low level takedown he was the stronger fighter in the clinch. Body to body on the feet Kouzi broke Miura’s posture before catching him with a crushing elbow. Instinctively grappling as he went down Miura tried to get in on a leg. Kouzi hammered away and, after getting a warning for wayward strikes to the back of the head, finished the fight by soccer kicking the son of the soccer superstar.  

Kouzi appealed on the mic for a rematch under MMA rules with Ryusei Ashizawa, should the fellow kickboxer get past Olympian Shinobu Ota. 

7. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (77.0kg)

Igor Tanabe Defeated Shinsho Anzai by Technical Submission (RnC, 1R 1:32)

Igor Tanabe, likely Japan’s greatest grappler in the heavier weight classes, entered for his 5th MMA bout against the game wrestler turned brawler Shisho “Animal” Anzai. 

The massive size differential was clear from the get-go as Tanabe towered over his foe. Wasting little time in getting the fight to the ground, Tanabe expertly took the back from a takedown attempt. From there he worked for a Rear Naked Choke, adjusting grips to counter Anzai’s defence. With his head tucked into the ridge of his opponent’s arm Anzai appeared to be safe, until he wasn’t. Tanabe stretched Anzai out and applied forearm pressure to the neck. With hands clasped the grappling phenom had his elbow on opponents back leveraging considerable pressure. Anzai, to the shock of many, went out cold, choked seemingly by Tanabe’s chest and forearm. The rare choke sealed the deal for the grappling ace at just 1:32 of round 1.

Confessing to having 7.5kg in weight to drop, Tanabe again out-sized his Japanese counterpart at 170lbs. A physical specimen at the weight, Tanabe also possesses world class elite grappling skills. A force to be reckoned with, should Rizin add a 170lb belt Tanabe would almost certainly be the favourite to win.   

6. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (57.0kg)

Hiroya Kondo Defeated Jo Arai by TKO (Referee Stoppage, Straight Right 2R 2:53)

Shooto 115lb and 125lb Champion, feared knockout specialist Jo Arai made his debut against the game grappler Hiroya. The opening stanza got underway with Arai, following the script, took command of the centre, pursued and pressured. Loading up for the finish Arai backed Hiroya into the ropes and unloaded with power that belied the weight class. Hiroya was slick on the feet to evade and consistent with the jab as he tried to keep his deadly foe honest. As the round finished Arai was in the driver’s seat, Hiroya, to his credit, had minimised damage while remaining competitive.

The 2nd round saw Arai continue where he left off, showing no respect to the power of the much larger Hiroya, Arai walked through his opponents blows to blast the body and head. Hiroya countered big with a left hand to the jaw of the advancing Arai that turned the tide. A high right kick was blocked but still had Arai, who had not recovered, on wobbly legs. A follow up right straight was picture perfect, dropping the Shooto champion against the ropes as the referee rushed in. 

Hiroya, with the victory, stopped the feared striker that was running rampant over 2 divisions. For Arai, the loss will be a bitter pill to swallow given the dominance asserted through the opening stanza. With a career defining win Hiroya will be elated as he throws his name into the hat for title contention. Arai may need to pack on some size to contend with the larger 125lb fighters, his “walk through fire” style always gives opponents opportunities, always gets hurt. Hiroya, however, was the first to capitalise and actually stop the formidable striker.

5. RIZIN MMA Special Rule: 5 minutes, 2 rounds (70.0kg)

Yuta Kubo Defeated Ryuki Anpo by Submission (RnC, 4:28 R1) 

As K-1 Champions from different era’s squared off under MMA rules, it was Kubo, with 4 MMA fights that took his opponent down. While current K-1 champ Anpo had the advantage on the feet he had little to offer from his back. Kubo went to mount and peppered with elbows and straights. Just when it seemed that Anpo was going to ride out the whole round in mount, the kickboxer turned to give his back. From there Kubo transitioned to the Rear naked Choke for the tap out with just 32 seconds left in the round. 

Elite Kickboxer Anpo was set to face fellow Kickboxer Minoru Phillip Kimura before Kimura was forced out with another failed PED test. The change of opponents likely played a factor for Anpo with Kubo being a more educated MMA fighter than expected. 

4. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (66.0kg)

Suguru Nii Defeated Satoshi “Dominator” Yamasu by KO (Right Straight, 2R 1:03) 

“Dominator” circled and chipped away at Nii, striking first with calf kicks. Nii upped the intensity, charging in a straight line with combinations, chasing Yamasu down. Another kick clubbed into the lower leg causing Nii to walk gingerly. As the round concluded the matador Yamasu had successfully avoided the bulrushes and compromised Nii’s leg.

On the outside Yamasu threw straights to mask the low kicks, doing substantial damage as Nii continued to tee off and hit air. A massive calf kick had his foe limping yet, just as Yamasu went in for the kill Nii calculated the distance and found what he had been looking for all fight. A monstrous right hand knocked “Dominator” out cold as he fell stiff to the canvas. A 1-2 follow up as the referee lept in gave Nii a phenomenal come from behind victory just as he seemed to be on the brink of defeat!  

Former DEEP Featherweight champion Yamasu equipped himself well with current Pancrase 145lb title holder. That is until the final seconds of the match. The brutal knockout may have an impact on “Dominator” who has become more defensively minded, shifting away from his aggressive style. Nii has surprised time and again, pulling submissions and knockouts out of nowhere just when needed. The exciting fighter is now undefeated in his last 5 outings.

3. RIZIN Kickboxing Rules: 3 minutes, 3 rounds, MMA gloves (60.0kg)

Tatsuki Shinotsuka Defeated Taichi Tomizawa by Decision (Unanimous, 3-0)

After a short feeling out process a left hook just above the ear dropped Tomizawa 1 min into the opening round. Tomizawa showed that was not going down without a fight, driving his opponent back with left hands until a clash of heads stopped the action. The match resumed as, Tomozawa, the busier fighter, fell short with long combinations. Shinotsuki had the accuracy but it was not enough to really damage his foe again as the round came to a close.

In the 2nd round Tomizawa edged into range and mounted a comeback. Slipping Shinotsuka’s rangy jab, Tomizawa tagged with short, fast hooks and straights. Shinotsuka called his adversary on but appeared slightly frustrated as Tomizawa gained in confidence. 

As the final round commenced Tomizawa read where Shinotsuka’s head would go, catching him at the end of long combinations. At around the ½ way mark Tomizawa started to see the fruits of his work as Shinotsuka looked hurt for the first time. Pouring on the pressure he attacked relentlessly, backing up a somewhat shell-shocked Shinotsuka. Overconfidence ultimately cost him though as another perfect right counter from the sniper Shinotsuka sat Tomizawa down for another 8 count. 

Tomizawa pulled out the stops and went for broke, Shinotsuka spent much of the fight evading and avoiding but proved his power was the deciding factor. 

2. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (54.0kg)

Ryujin Nasukawa Defeated Shin Jong Min by TKO (Ground and Pound, R2 2:16)

Ryujin Nasukawa, brother of combat sports superstar Tenshin,  made an unexpected but welcomed MMA debut against Korean grappler Shin Jong Min. 

A calf kick from the striker Nasukawa got the action started in the 1st. JongMin attempted to get the fight to the canvas but was thwarted by Nasukawa, who showed great takedown defense. Another low kick dropped the Korean to the mat where Nasukawa charged in, attempting to pass guard and land ground and pound. JongMin threw his legs up, trying a triangle before converting to a straight armbar. Nasukawa’s counters were stomps until the threat was negated. A Sakuraba-esque jumping stomp attempt was fruitless and the referee stood the fighters up. It was then JongMin’s moment to take the fight down, keep top position and throw down ground and pound.

Nasukawa received a warning for grabbing the ropes in the opening round and needed to be careful in the 2nd round. Calf kicks and jabs again kept distance and stopped the grappler charging in. A tackle from JongMin had little penetration and Nasukawa capitalised, moving back and punishing. With JongMin wilting under fire on his back Nasukawa did not let up. Knees, punches then passing guard the Kickboxer overwhelmed with ground and pound until the referee had seen enough. 

Nasukawa follows in his brother’s footsteps and while he is not on the same level as a Kickboxer, Ryujin has moved to MMA earlier in his career and promises to keep getting stronger. 

 1. RIZIN MMA Rule: 5 minutes, 3 rounds (61.0kg)

Jo Hiramoto Defeated Yushi Sakura by Decision (Unanimous, 3-0)

Jo Hiramoto, younger brother of Ren made his pro debut against the ladies man, host and body model Yushi Sakura. “Yushi” was 3-1 in Rizin entering the fight and on a 3 fight win streak. Hiramoto carried a 7-1 amateur kickboxing record and thanks to an appearance in Abema.TVs “Fighting Dreamers” was touted as a fighter to keep an eye on. 

Hiramoto relied on basics, jabs, straights which, like his brother, were executed with impeccable technique. Yushi was more versatile, taking risks with jumping knees and punches while also going low with kicks. A knee tap from Yushi had Hiramoto tasting canvas before popping to his feet. From a bodylock the tides to turn as Hiramoto takes Yushi down at the end of the round.

Yushi brought out a spinning backfist and superman punch in the 2nd. Hiramoto skillfully evaded the strikes and made him pay, with knees, straights and low kicks. Yushi was burning through energy at a furious pace while his adversary remained more composed. A final opportunistic takedown from Hiramoto ended in ½ guard, where they remained until the bell sounded.

The final round commenced as Hiramoto countered a right high kick with a left one, sending Yushi to the canvas. After the referee stood him up, both engaged in striking exchanges before Yushi absorbed another head kick. Hiramoto countered a superman punch with a crisp combination, finishing with a left that stunned his foe. Taking the fight to the canvas once more Hiramoto was in command of the match as he let loose with ground and pound, knees and submission attempts. An exhausted Yushi showed tremendous heart and held on until the end of the fight.

There was little doubt as to the victor as all 3 judges sided with Hiramoto who follows in the footsteps of his older brother. 


About the Author

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

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