RIZIN returns to Fukuoka on May 6, 2018, and the first batch of fights has been announced for the card that will be dubbed; RIZIN 9.
Winner of the RIZIN 2017 Bantamweight Grand-Prix; Kyoji Horiguchi returns to take on fellow tournament participant, “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. Winner of the RIZIN 2017 Super Atomweight Grand-Prix; 20-year-old Kanna Asakura returns to face Melissa Karagianis, while Kai Asakura faces the 2017 bantamweight grand-prix semi-finalist Manel Kape.
It has also been announced that multi-division Kunlun Fight and Top FC Champion; Weili Zhang will make her RIZIN debut at RIZIN 9 against high-level wrestling prospect Kanaka Murata.
Along with this, RIZIN has announced the full event scheduled for 2018. It will feature five shows, but surprisingly only one show is listed for December as opposed to the typical doubleheader.
今年の大会スケジュール。RIZIN Event schedule in 2018.
May 6 RIZIN. 9 (Fukuoka)
July 29 RIZIN.10 (Saitama)
Aug 12 RIZIN.11 (Nagoya)
Sep 30. RIZIN.12 (Saitama)
Dec 31. RIZIN.13 (Saitama)
— RIZIN FF STAFF (@rizin_STAFF) February 14, 2018
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ian McCall
Kyoji Horiguchi (23-2) has been red-hot since joining the RIZIN ranks last year whilst riding a three-fight win streak in the UFC. He is a perfect 5-0 inside the RIZIN ring with all but one of those wins coming via finish. He picked up three finishes in two days to win the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix in December, defeating former foe and current Pancrase title-holder Shintaro Ishiwatari in the finals.
“Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall (13-6-1) unfortunately enters Fukuoka while riding a string of bad luck. Having not won since July of 2014 – and only fighting two times since then – McCall joined the RIZIN roster late last year. He did so following a loss to John Lineker in January 2015 and having six fights after that fall through for one reason or another. He took on rising Portuegese prospect Manel Kape and lost via TKO in round one after he was cut open on the ropes very early in the first round.
Kanna Asakura vs. Melissa Karagianis
Kanna Asakura (11-2) has had an unbelievably impressive career for someone who just turned 20-years-old four months ago. Fighting out of Paraestro Matsudo, the wrestling prodigy is currently riding a six-fight win streak – this includes winning the RIZIN Super Atomweight Grand-Prix in December. She finished two highly-touted prospects on December 31 to win the aforementioned championship, including Japanese superstar RENA and Brazilian striker Maria Oliviera.
Canada’s Melissa Karagianis (3-3) will enter the contest as a massive underdog. Opposite Asakura’s impressive six-fight win streak, Karagianis will enter having won just one of her last four. Two of her career wins came against RIZIN veteran Andy Nguyen, the last of which won her the KOTC Atomweight Championship in August of last year.
Manel Kape vs. Kai Asakura
Manel “Prodigio” Kape (9-2) went from relative unknown to an overnight sensation following his quick KO win against fan-favorite Erson Yamamoto last October in his promotional debut. This was the first-round of a sixteen-man field that was vying to win the RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix. He then faced UFC and WEC veteran Ian McCall on December 29 and won despite the controversy in the fight. This put him in the semi-finals where he got submitted by eventual tournament winner Kyoji Horiguchi.
Kai Asakura (9-1) is a former champion of The Outsider promotion in Japan. He made waves in his RIZIN debut this past December. Scheduled to face Seiichiro Ito on December 29, Ito had to pull out of the contest a few weeks prior due to a nasal fracture. In stepped Kizaemon Saiga. The two slugged it out before Asakura got the destructive finish he’s so used to in the second round. The 24-year-old has never seen the final bell in his pro career.
Kanako Murata (6-1) will return to the RIZIN ring for the first time in a year and a half to face the incredibly dominant Weili Zhang (16-1).
Murata was submitted by UFC and Pancrase veteran Rin Nakai in December of 2016. The 24-year-old Murata followed the loss up by winning two back-to-back fights, defeating Claire Fryer at Pancrase 288 and Yukari Nabe at DEEP 79 Impact.
China’s Zhang is one of the most phenomenal fighters on the planet right now. After losing her MMA debut, Zhang went on to win an incredible 16-straight fights in the three-year span that followed. In 2017 she won the Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship, the Kunlun Fight Flyweight Championship, and the Top FC Strawweight Championship.
And lastly, in kickboxing action; Tomohiro Kitai will face the RISE West Tournament Winner, which will be announced on March 18. Combat sports sensation Tenshin Nasukawa has also been announced for the card after just picking up a huge kickboxing win this past weekend over Suakim Sit.Sor.Thor.Taew.
RIZIN 9 is scheduled to take place on May 6, live from the familiar Marine Messe Fukuoka in Fukuoka, Japan.