RIZIN 11 delivered with one of the best events of 2018 to date on Sunday morning. The event featured several violent finishes, a lot of fun fights and all of the standard Japanese MMA flare we’ve come to expect from the promotion. With that in mind, who should the warriors of RIZIN fight next? Here’s a look at 10 fights to make following RIZIN 11.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Tatsumitsu Wada
Horiguchi has done it again. He overcame some early adversity in his rematch with Hiromasa Ogikubo to pull out a decisive victory. It was Horiguchi’s stiffest test under the RIZIN banner to date. What’s next for the elite flyweight/bantamweight? A flyweight bout with Wada would not only be fresh, but it’d be a lot of fun. Both men bring it and know how to finish fights. Wada is also one of the top flyweights that RIZIN could offer to Horiguchi. Sign us up.
Hiromasa Ogikubo vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari
Ogikubo put on a good showing in his second loss to Horiguchi, but is still one of the top flyweights/bantamweights in Japan. He should take on a fellow top bantamweight in Ishiwatari next. Ishiwatari had a seven-fight winning streak snapped by Horiguchi in his last outing, falling in the finals of the RIZIN 2017 bantamweight Grand Prix. He is still 3-1 with the promotion. Ogikubo is on an 11-2 run, with his only losses in that span coming to Horiguchi. Make no mistake that Ogikubo vs. Ishiwatari is a battle of two elite bantamweights.
Kanna Asakura vs. Naho Sugiyama
The surging Asakura has really come into her own. She’s 8-0 since February 2017, won the RIZIN super atomweight Grand Prix last year, and holds two wins over Rena Kubota. Not a bad resume at all. Her last defeat came to Alyssa Garcia, but she’s been lights out ever since. One name she hasn’t fought yet is Sugiyama. “Sugi Rock” is one of the top atomweights in the world, having fought Jessica Penne, Seo Hee Ham and Ayaka Hamasaki. A fight between her and Asakura would be an interesting test for one of the top prospects in the world.
Rena Kubota vs. Maria Oliveira
“RENA” fell short in her contest against Asakura on Sunday, who remains the only woman to defeat her. The Japanese star is 7-0 otherwise. She’s shown improvements with her takedown and ground defense, but Asakura’s grappling proved too much. While Kubota is improving that aspect of her game, it’s time to match her up with a fellow striker. Oliveira, who last competed in a loss to Asakura last year, should be brought back to RIZIN to face Kubota. It’d be a fresh, exciting fight between two strikers with several T/KO wins on their records.
Diego Brandao vs. Yusuke Yachi
UFC veteran and finisher Diego Brandao made good on his RIZIN debut with a KO victory over Satoru Kitaoka, who was finished via strikes while attempting a leg lock. Yachi also owns a TKO win over Kitaoka. Both Brandao and Yachi are violent finishers and very exciting fighters. Whether the fight happens at RIZIN 12 (Yachi’s scheduled opponent, Bruno Carvalho, pulled out) or at a later date, this is the fight to make.
Takanori Gomi vs. Daron Cruickshank
Gomi and Cruickshank, two UFC veterans, both picked up wins at RIZIN 11 this past weekend. Gomi snapped a six-fight losing streak dating back to 2014 with a vicious knockout of another former UFC veteran in Melvin Guillard. Cruickshank put together a striking clinic on Brazilian power-puncher Tom Santos and got a submission win via elbows that put two holes in the face of Santos. Both Gomi and Cruickshank are finishers, so this fight is almost sure to end in the first round.
It’s worth noting that Gomi has looked significantly better since returning to Japan, as he put a scare into Yusuke Yachi before being submitted. Gomi would get a chance to prove he’s rejuvenated in RIZIN, while Cruickshank would get the chance to add a legend’s name to his resume. Plus, the fans win.
T. Tiger Muay Thai vs. Manel Kape
Speaking of fans winning, this is a spectacular fight between two absolute bangers that absolutely needs to happen. Tiger Muay Thai scored a crazy comeback KO over Tadaaki Yamamoto mere seconds after being dropped. Kape is 2-2 in RIZIN, holding a victory over Ian McCall while losing to Horiguchi and Kai Asakura. The Asakura fight was a tight split decision loss that was entertaining all the way through. These two have dynamite in their fists for two guys in the lower weight classes, and would guarantee to put on a show.
Jiri Prochazka vs. Fabio Maldonado
Prochazka put a swift and violent end to Bruno Henrique Cappelozza’s night in 1:23. Finding light heavyweights is tough in Japan, so RIZIN may need to import Prochazka’s next opponent. RIZIN and Fight Nights Global worked together to make Brandao vs. Kitaoka happen, so perhaps they can arrange for UFC veteran Maldonado to come and fight Prochazka.
Tom Santos vs. Diego Nunes
Santos could never get his dynamic striking game going against Cruickshank in his RIZIN 11 loss. Nunes is coming off a split decision loss to Yusuke Yachi in his promotional debut at RIZIN 10. Both fighters are wild and have a lot of finishes to their name. It’d be a great bout as long as it lasts, and the winner would gain some momentum.
Miyuu Yamamoto vs. Alyssa Garcia
“Mamamoto” got back in the win column against Saori Ishioka this weekend. Josh Barnett protege Alyssa Garcia is looking to do the same, as she’s riding a tough three-fight losing streak. She looked awesome in a loss to the arguable best atomweight in the world in Ayaka Hamasaki, which is a very encouraging sign for her. Garcia has a fight on August 26, but could return to RIZIN for a match-up with Yamamoto. It’d be a very fun grappling affair.