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Rizin signs Wanderlei Silva, announces seven fighters for next card

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RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced during a press conference, the signing of all-time Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) great Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) to a multi-year promotional contract, as well as the first two bouts, one of which will feature Silva, for its second live event that will take place at the 10,000 capacity Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17.

Rizin signs Wanderlei Silva, announces seven fighters for next card

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” are on sale and can be purchased online at

Silva, the former PRIDE middleweight champion and 2003 PRIDE Grand Prix middleweight champion, will team up with a fighter to be determined, in a special grappling “tag match,” the rules for which will be announced soon, and battle a duo consisting of another legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

Following the April contest, Silva, who held several records under the PRIDE banner, including longest win streak and most KO’s, will compete under MMA rules in future RIZIN FF events.

In a 180 pound MMA rules contest, devastating power puncher Hisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow prolific finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

A former HEAT middleweight title holder, the 33-year-old Kato made an explosive debut before a live U.S. television audience on Spike when he scored what was later named “Knockout of the Month” – a crushing, second round (:34) KO (punch) on American star Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling at Bellator 139 on June 26, 2015.

To date, all of Kato’s professional victories have come by way of (T)KO.

Watanabe is a 31-year-old grappling ace who boasts a splendid 84 percent finish rate, with 11 of his 19 career wins to date having come by way of submission and another 6 victories having come by way of (T)KO.

The number 10 ranked welterweight in Japan, Watanabe will make his first appearance of 2016 and look to rebound from a first round (2:00) submission (rear-naked choke) defeat at the hands of Keita Nakamura on July 20, 2015, a loss that halted a seven-fight win streak for Watanabe.

In two different women’s bouts, Rena Kubota (1-0 MMA, 31-5-1 shoot boxing) will square off an opponent to be named under shoot boxing rules, while decorated wrestler Kanako Murata (0-0) will make her highly-anticipated MMA debut against an opponent to be announced soon.

The 24-year-old Kubota is a three-time shoot boxing tournament champion who made her much-anticipated MMA debut in stunning fashion at the RIZIN FF New Year’s Eve extravaganza, where she notched a second round (3:31) submission victory over Jleana Valentino with a flying armbar.

The 22-year-old Murata’s impressive resume includes three junior Olympic medals. Her most impressive feat, however, came in 2011 when Murata nearly defeated four-time Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida during the All-Japan championships.

Additional bouts for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” will be announced soon.

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Jeremy Brand is an experienced MMA writer and columnist. He is the founder of, and has represented the company with media credentials at many mixed martial arts fights. Jeremy is also a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training in BC, Canada.

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