RIZIN 13 Recap: Typhoons, Emotional Tributes, and a Landmark RIZIN Event

Horiguchi and Tenshin post-fight. (© RIZIN FF)

RIZIN 13 Recap: Typhoons, Emotional Tributes, and a Landmark RIZIN Event.

Well, the most highly-anticipated RIZIN Fighting Federation show in history came and went on Sunday morning. And what a show RIZIN 13 was.

We saw some legends return, we saw Miyuu Yamamoto take the ring just 12 days after her brother’s unfortunate death, we saw one of the biggest fights in the history of Japan, but perhaps more than anything else, we saw blockbuster fights, finishes, and performances.

Here it is, from the opening fight of the night to the final fight of the night, here is the RIZIN 13 Recap. Check out the RIZIN 12 Recap as well!


Norifumi “KID” Yamamoto Tribute

Immediately, the show opened up with what many people thought it would; a tribute to
“KID” Yamamoto.

A moment of silence was held for “KID,” and despite the Saitama Super Arena housing 27,000 for the show – the most in promotional history – you could quite literally hear a pin drop in that place. Japan lost a genuine legend two weeks ago, and that much was obvious from this moment.

Along with this moment of silence, RIZIN also aired a touching  tribute video. It featured family, friends, former opponents, and fellow legends, all of which paid their respects to Yamamoto and got emotional doing it. From Masato to Hideo Tokoro, many tears were shed in the video. And it tugged on the heartstrings of everyone in attendance as well as everyone watching at home.

The passing of “KID” touched a tremendous amount of people, and to see RIZIN pay such heavy respects to him just two weeks after his untimely death was incredibly nice. As heavy and emotional as it all was, it was a powerful way to open the show. For the live audience and the people watching worldwide.

Rest in peace, Norifumi Yamamoto.

One thing was perfectly clear, this event was a celebration of Japanese MMA and “KID” Yamamoto.


Typhoon?

Before we fully get into the opening fight, let’s get into the whole typhoon situation surrounding this show.

A typhoon was set to hit certain parts of Japan during the live show. Now, to make it clear, a typhoon was not about to destroy the arena or anything. But due to the Saitama Super Arena’s location within Japan, a vast majority of people in attendance had to get there by way of train and other public transport.

Due to the typhoon, the train systems and whatnot were all slated to be closed early – 8pm local time to exact. This meant that the people leaving to catch those last-minute trains would miss the final three fights. Because of this, the main three fights of RIZIN 13 were switched to an earlier timeslot on the card. This so the people leaving due to the typhoon would be able to see the main attractions.

The main event, Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kyoji Horiguchi, moved down three spots on the show. The co-main event, Miyuu Yamamoto vs. Andy Nguyen II, moved down three spots on the show. And the bout between Mirko Cro Cop and Roque Martinez moved down three slots on the show.

The fights they replaced were Cruickshank/Brandao, Asakura/Dautbek, and Prochazka/Heun. Those fights would now close out the show and be treated as postlims. The live crowd (albeit a fraction of the 27,000 that were there before leaving due to typhoon) would be able to watch them as well as the people at home.

Due to them needing to speed things up thanks to the typhoon, we saw no classic opening ceremony, no post-fight interviews, and no intermissions… apparently.


*records listed all pre-fight

Manel Kape (12-2) vs. Yusaku Nakamura (14-5)

Manel Kape puts Yusaku Nakamura to sleep at RIZIN 13 (© RIZIN FF)

Opening up the show we saw a banger at flyweight as Manel Kape returned against Yusaku Nakamura.

On-paper it was a great striker vs. striker match-up with Kape looking to rebound from the controversial Kai Asakura loss at RIZIN 10 and Nakamura looking to win his inaugural MMA fight with RIZIN.

As Manel Kape made his way to the ring – killer entrance, by the way – the big talking point being made was the changes to his training. Instead of taking MMA not-so-seriously and being a bit of a party connoisseur, Kape decided he wanted to go all-in on mixed martial arts. So he moved to AKA Thailand and had started to take the sport and it’s training very seriously.

Yusaku Nakamura hits the ring decked out in full gi. The longtime Team Alpha Male Japan athlete makes the walk smiling from ear to ear, clearly excited to make his return to MMA after having not competed under the rule set in nearly one year.

A very smart striker, Nakamura sometimes sits back a bit too much. It is addressed on commentary that he has been given some harsh words regarding this fight – from his corner no less. Apparently being told that if he loses this, he should retire.

Round one consisted of some very nice kicks by Kape, whether it be to the body, legs, or head. He does, however, make what could’ve been a pivotal mistake had he been facing a more prepared grappler. A bit later in the round, as Nakamura has him up against the ropes, Kape curiously pulls guard. Despite his back being against the ropes. This, of course, gives him less room to work and could’ve had him seriously trapped. Fortunately for him, he was fighting Yusaku Nakamura.

Eventually, he does get back to his feet, however, and towards the end of the round Manel Kape hits a very nice double leg and gets in some punches before the final bell.

Round two saw some more clean kicks from Kape, as well as him beginning to really work that body lock takedown. He got it with about ninety seconds remaining in the round. During the scramble, Nakamura gave up his back and ate some really solid shots from Kape throughout the final minute of round two. He was getting pummeled, but to his credit, Nakamura reversed position right at the end of the round.

The international stream got super choppy in round three, sadly. After multiple crashes, the stream resumed to a bloody Yusaku Nakamura. In the final minute of the fight, Kape got another takedown, worked his way towards the back of Nakamura, and choked him unconscious with about thirty seconds remaining.

This provided a rather disturbing visual of a seemingly lifeless Nakamura.

This was the second time in his career that Nakamura had been submitted. The first came against Seiji Akao way back in 2011. The fact that Kape, typically a striker, was able to win in this fashion is very impressive. It was a very surprising ground game from the Angolan, and much improvement overall.

Pre-fight it was Nakamura perhaps looking past his opponent, clamoring for a fight with Kai Asakura on NYE. With the win, maybe Kape will get his rematch with Kai… assuming he wins tonight, of course. Wink.


Taiga vs. Kento Haraguchi

Kento Haraguchi avoids the right-hand of Taiga. (© RIZIN FF)

In the first of two kickboxing bouts of the night, former K-1 and KRUSH title-holder Taiga made his highly-awaited RIZIN debut against ACCEL Champion and RISE Tournament Winner; Kento Haraguchi.

Taiga came in looking to fight Tenshin on NYE and seemed to fully expect to walk through Haraguchi. It was the aggressiveness and output of Taiga vs. the ranged kick-centric attack of Kento Haraguchi.

Sweet Melvin Manhoef-esque blue trunks for Taiga opposite Kento’s all-gold getup.

Tough to give any analysis on fast-paced kickboxing. It was just a highly-entertaining scrap. A fun, back-and-forth round one that saw Taiga getting wild with Kento using excellent distance management to stay outside and attack with his kicks, including an Andy Hug spin kick to the leg!

As the bout progressed, the story stayed the same. Taiga was all-action, but it wasn’t very effective here. The head movement of Haraguchi was on-point and helped him out tremendously in this one. Taiga kept up his ultra-aggressiveness in round three, but he did noticeably begin to look… not like the Taiga people know and love. Really landing nothing worth much.

That is until he hammered home a flying knee, but even then Kento was unfazed and responded immediately with a sharp right-hook. The two exchanged spinning back-fists at the final bell, and the fight was ruled a majority draw.

In my opinion, Kento was the clear winner here. But, regardless, it’s his stock who goes up big time here. Not that Taiga’s drops necessarily, but Kento was supposed to get walked over. And that certainly did not happen.


Ayaka Hamasaki (15-2) vs. Mina Kurobe (12-3)

Ayaka Hamasaki taps Mina Kurobe with a kimura at RIZIN 13. (© RIZIN FF)

In one of the more intriguing bouts of the night, former Invicta FC Champion, Ayaka Hamasaki faced Mina Kurobe, the current DEEP JEWELS Champion.

The theme of this fight is very much #1 atomweight vs. #2 atomweight, who will come out as the best 105lb’er in the country – and perhaps the world.

Ayaka Hamasaki enters the night 7-1 in her last eight, with the sole loss being against Livia Renata Souza in a bout that saw Hamasaki move up a division whilst holding the Invicta Atomweight Championship. Her loss prior to this was also a division up, but that was back in 2013. She has never been defeated as an atomweight and has in fact beaten some of the best fighters the class has to offer.

Also coming into RIZIN 13 with a record of 7-1 in her last eight, Mina Kurobe won the DEEP JEWELS 105-lb Title in early 2017 and brought it to ROAD FC, unsuccessfully challenging Seo Hee Ham in a bout to determine who would take home the vacant atomweight belt. She has since bounced back with two wins.

On paper this bout was seemingly impossible to call, but it didn’t play out with the same amount of uncertainty. Ayaka Hamasaki dominated from pillar-to-post.

After a shockingly aggressive striking onslaught from her immediately in the fight, Hamasaki eventually bullied Kurobe onto the mat and took a crucifix position. From there she landed hard shots to the head of Kurobe using hammer fists and grounded-knees.

Kurobe briefly reversed position before getting swept and submitted by Hamasaki with a nasty kimura.

The cakewalk first-round finish marks Hamasaki’s first submission win since March of 2016, and first kimura finish since May of 2012. Prior to the run-in with Hamasaki, Kurobe had never been submitted in her six-year career.

If the goal was to make a statement, the statement has been made, Ayaka Hamasaki.


Kai Asakura (10-1) vs. Topnoi TigerMuayThai (6-1)

Kai Asakura pounds away at Topnoi from mount. (© RIZIN FF)

For my money, this was the best fight of the night, at least on paper. The two were supposed to fight at RIZIN 11, but an injury to Kai put Topnoi against Tadaaki Yamamoto.

The fight was slated to be spectacular violence. Kai Asakura is a former OUTSIDER title-holder and a highly-aggressive striker. He hit the ring having won three-straight, amassing a record of 3-0 within RIZIN. Asakura’s walkout featured a custom song/opening.

Topnoi entered the fight with six-straight wins, having recently won his RIZIN debut in spectacular fashion. In a typical Topnoi entrance, he comes out dancing his ass off. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, but who on earth is gonna tell him that. Keep it up, Topnoi! Absolutely fantastic character.

The commentators proceed to say that Asakura’s street fighting experience is comparable to Topnoi’s muay thai experience. But, I digress. Here we go with the first of two Asakura Brothers vs. Tiger Muay Thai match-ups on the card. Mikuru in Kai’s corner before he fights tonight.

Topnoi twirl finger. (Using RIZIN 11 GIF because at RIZIN 13 there was some lag between the twirl and finger. You saw both, but I figured one smooth motion was better! Trust me, it happened. No differently than you see here.)

The two jawed a little bit at weigh-ins, having one of the more intense staredowns of the night. And during pre-fight introductions – much like at RIZIN 11Topnoi greets his foe with a beautiful jumping twirl followed by a middle finger. Great technique on the spin.

As the fight begins, both are very much taking it seriously. It takes 70-seconds for Asakura to shoot in on a takedown, getting it after a bit of struggle. Topnoi managed to work his way back to a standing position but was dragged down almost immediately by Asakura.

From that position, Kai slid into side control without much issue and easily worked to mount. From here he proceeded to dish out a hellacious beating throughout the entirety of round one. Topnoi survived, but he took a lot of massive punches and elbows in the opening round.

Topnoi was able to finally work a bit of his striking game in round two, scoring some accurate – albeit insignificant – punches in the opening minute. Once again at 1:45 of the round, Asakura shot in on the Thai, this time unsuccessfully. As Kai whiffs on a straight-right, Topnoi proceeds to show more proof that he doesn’t give any f*cks by flipping the Japanese slugger off.

Just a few seconds later Asakura managed to hit a successful clinch throw that put him in a position to land some nasty skyscraper knees to the dome of Topnoi.

These appeared to have opened up a cut. The muay thai fighter manages to work his way back to the feet but finds himself in a guillotine. A bloody Topnoi escapes the guillotine and finds himself in mount, closing out the round with a massive knee to the head of Asakura as he begins to stand up.

In the opening minute of round three, Topnoi is yet again having success on the feet. He lands a few nice punches before Asakura forces a clinch. But when Asakura gets inside, he’s met by some tight knees and elbows courtesy of Topnoi, so the Japanese fighter breaks the clinch on his own.

The final two minutes of the fight is all Topnoi. He finds a home for multiple hooks and crosses among other strikes, even managing to open up a late cut above the left eye of Asakura.

Unfortunately for Topnoi, the late resurgence was too little too late. Kai Asakura got the nod via unanimous decision due to his early dominance.

Between this bout and his last appearance vs. Kape in RIZIN, Asakura has gone the distance and won twice. These are the only two times judges’ scorecards were needed in his fights, meaning he has a 100% win rate in fights that go the distance.

This is the first defeat by way of decision for Topnoi. He had previously gone to the judges once, but he came out on top that time.

Really impressive performance from Kai Asakura. Not the fight many expected, but it was certainly the smart approach for him to have given Topnoi’s late success with his hands.


Haruo Ochi (17-7) vs. Mitsuhisa Sunabe (29-7)

Haruo Ochi launches a soccer kick at the head of Mitsuhisa Sunabe. (© RIZIN FF)

In one of the biggest fights on the card, it was title vs. title as two of the division’s finest, and champions in their respective promotions, do battle.

Strawweight King of Pancrase Mitsuhisa Sunabe put his 16-fight, seven-year unbeaten streak on the line against a streaking Haruo Ochi, the DEEP Strawweight Champion. Both men are big fish in the small pond that is MMA’s male strawweight division, and they set out to prove that the 115-lb class belongs in RIZIN.

Immediately the massive size difference is wildly prevalent. Ochi stands at 5’3 opposite a near 5’9 Sunabe. And in terms of reach, the discrepancy is pretty similar.

Round one was very competitive. Ochi was fantastic with his positioning, getting a hold of Sunabe’s back multiple times. He or Sunabe weren’t able to do much in the opener, however.

In round two, Ochi shows off some beautiful double-leg entries and completes the takedown multiple times. With 30-seconds remaining in the second round, Sunabe uses a lovely kimura sweep from a standing position and ends up taking the back of Ochi. He doesn’t stay there for long, though. As Ochi still closes out the round on top.

Round three is where the absolutely brutal finish comes.

It doesn’t take long for Ochi to, yet again, work the takedowns. He gets one early in the round, and shortly after even picks up a Hughes/Trigg-esque running slam. Sunabe is allowed back to a standing position by Ochi. The end was near.

Haruo Ochi tagged Mitsuhisa Sunabe with a left-hook that visibly sent him reeling. That was followed up with a beautiful hook to the body and overhand-right that faceplanted Sunabe.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Ochi fires off not one but two soccer kicks for the KO win.

The massive win brings Haruo Ochi’s win streak to six, with this being the first knockout inside of that streak. The last time Ochi won by way of (T)KO was in December of 2015, but even that isn’t comparable. If you want to see another Ochi knockout that is even somewhat comparable to being as clean a KO as this one, you have to go all the way back to 2012.

Mitsuhisa Sunabe lost his first MMA fight in seven years, and his 16-fight win streak has been snapped. The last time he lost by knockout in an MMA bout was over a decade ago, September of 2007.

This was the first strawweight fight in promotional history, and something tells me it won’t be the last. Insanity.


Bob Sapp (11-20) vs. Osunaarashi (0-0)

Bob Sapp sweeps Osunaarashi. Yes, this is real. (© RIZIN FF)

Oh, God.

This was, obviously, both on paper and in practice, the lowlight of the entire night. But what an absolute spectacle it was. That is the best compliment I can pay it.

Bob Sapp is legitimately one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts history – for all the wrong reasons. His name is synonymous with real fight-throwing accusations, backed up by a large amount of evidence in the form of his fights.

This is a massive, massive man who once defeated Ernesto Hoost – finished Ernesto Hoost  – twice in K-1. This is a man who once, in PRIDE, gave a prime Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira absolute hell for fifteen minutes before ultimately being submitted.

He was never the best, but he was a legitimate threat, and his nickname of “The Beast” was genuinely fitting. Then, all of a sudden, he loses 14-straight. All in a similar fashion. Sometimes to truly awful fighters. Weird. It’s almost like promoters pay him a tonne of money because he draws eyeballs, so Sapp dives to make easy money and rebound to do the same again shortly after.

Allegedly.

Anyways; Sapp comes out to some Ric Flair music, rocking a Ric Flair robe, and the debuting sumo wrestler trained by Josh Barnett, Osunaarashi, comes out in a pharaoh getup to what sounded like Abdullah The Butcher’s music.

The second the fight begins, Osunaarashi swarms Sapp. Massive barrage of punches, Sapp bleeding almost immediately. And during this time, many people – really everyone – figured Sapp would fall. Right? That’s how it goes. That’s the formula. Fight over.

Sapp.

Didn’t.

Fall.

Oh my God, Bob Sapp is actually trying to win a fight in 2018. Ninety seconds into round one of three, and they are both exhausted, and it becomes very clear what kind of fight this is. Thankfully, the rules for this bout make it three rounds, three minutes each.

As round one ends, the feed cuts to multiple fighters in attendance just laughing. Gomi, Kanna, Yachi, Reina, etc. It was great.

In round two, Osunaarashi kind of, like, runs into Sapp. No goal in mind. He just hobbles into him. And the two of them bounce off the ropes and do a bit of a tumble, but BOB SAPP SWEEPS OSUNAARASHI TO GET TOP POSITION. I repeat; BOB SAPP SWEEPS OSUNAARASHI TO GET TOP POSITION.

Sapp slides into mount, does nothing, gets punched in the face a few times by Osunaarashi from the bottom. Both on the brink of death due to exhaustion. In round three, Sapp lands a sloppy right-hand on Osunaarashi that genuinely seems to put the Egyptian out on his feet.

Fight over.

Kidding.

Bob Sapp was too exhausted to move in for the kill. So they just stand still, stare at eachother, and dry heave until the final bell.

The fight ends, and Bob Sapp wins via unanimous decision.

In a one-eighty of the situation with Sunabe/Ochi earlier, Bob Sapp has won his first fight in eight years and snapped a 14-fight losing skid. Osunaarashi loses his MMA debut – and hopefully his retirement fight.

Under MMA rules, Sapp had never won via decision previously, this dating back to his debut in 2002.

I hated this. In real time, watching live, having a laugh, it’s fine. But in retrospect, I hate it.

I’m all for freakshows, but I enjoy freakshows, like, say, Baruto vs. Mirko Cro Cop. At least we know that Cro Cop is capable and legitimately good. So you could say I like freakshow fights if it’s 50% freakshow.

When it is two frankly unskilled people like we saw here, it is pretty embarrassing. And it’s made even more noticeable on RIZIN shows. Because these shows are tremendous. So one black spot, one lowlight, and it sticks out like a sore thumb.

I do not blame RIZIN. Unfortunately, Sapp is money. I don’t think the same can be said for Osunaarashi.

Watch the whole fight. I dare you. Actually? Watch the third round. Just the third round. You’re welcome.

It’s kind of beautiful. Osunaarashi, in his debut mind you, has beaten the streak. He did the impossible. He lost to Bob Sapp.


Mirko Cro Cop (36-11) vs. Roque Martinez (12-3)

Mirko Cro Cop stares down Roque Martinez. (© RIZIN FF)

At 44-years-old, combat sports legend Mirko Cro Cop is currently on the best run of his entire career having won eight-straight. This streak includes wins in the UFC as well as a RIZIN Grand-Prix Championship.

Opposite him was the highly-underrated Roque Martinez, riding a very nice win streak of his own. This was the biggest test of his career by far, but Martinez was super confident and all smiles during the walkout. He made his way to the ring looking giddy at the chance in front of him, and then he proceeded to watch one of the most iconic entrances of all time whilst standing in the ring.

The action began pretty quickly with these two as Cro Cop threw a low kick that was caught by Martinez who forced the Croatian against the ropes in a clinch. The referee wasted virtually no time breaking them up, though.

Mirko Cro Cop fired off two of his most notable strikes; the straight-left shortly followed by that devastating left headkick. The straight found the target, but Martinez was able to block the headkick entirely.

Mirko did manage to land a sharp step-in left elbow, however. Resulting in Martinez pressuring Cro Cop to the ropes, throwing some unorthodox hammer fists to that left leg of Mirko when there.

While in the ‘dominant’ clinch position, Martinez lands a big right uppercut, but Cro Cop follows with a fight-ending elbow that opens a big gash on the forehead of Roque. And that did the job. The referee stopped the fight due to the cut very quickly.

Roque Martinez was furious with the stoppage. But, can you blame him? He was proving to be a formidable challenge to the legend. Giving him a better fight in just a few minutes than anyone has been able to in recent memory.

The win for Cro Cop marks his ninth-straight. Officially ruled a doctor’s stoppage, it is the fifth time Mirko has forced the doctor to step in and stop the fight. Most recently, the doctor was forced to save Satoshi Ishii from Mirko. That was four years ago, and it just so happens to be the first win on his current nine-fight win streak. Fitting.

It will go down as the 28th (T)KO win of Cro Cop’s MMA career. He plans to return on NYE at RIZIN 14, make it ten-straight wins, and retire. Let’s see if he can go out on a tremendous note. This is the best run of the legend’s long, hall of fame worthy career.

Roque Martinez had never been defeated by doctor stoppage, but this is his second (T)KO defeat. The first came in June of 2011, this also happens to be the last time he had been defeated.


Miyuu Yamamoto (2-3) vs. Andy Nguyen (6-6) II

Miyuu Yamamoto batters Andy Nguyen from crucifix position. (© RIZIN FF)

Oh boy. Emotions.

Twelve days removed from the death of her brother, Miyuu Yamamoto took the ring to face a woman she knows all too well in the form of Andy Nguyen. The two fought in 2016 in what was Miyuu’s second pro fight, Nguyen won via first-round armbar.

Before we get into the fight, let’s talk walkouts. This was the best walkout duel of the night. By far.

Miyuu Yamamoto came out to “Ready or Not” by the Fugees, but the introduction prior to ‘her’ walkout song was “I Believe,” which was “KID” Yamamoto’s signature walkout when he was competing as a star in Japan. The second “I Believe” kicked in, you heard the crowd get very excited before going silent out of respect.

She came to the ring dancing like her little brother would, even pointing to the sky and trying her best to speak to him directly. Powerful entrance.

Immediately following Yamamoto’s great walkout, it was, of course, Andy Nguyen. She uses the RIZIN platform to her full advantage when it comes to making spectacular entrances, and RIZIN 13 was no different. Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal,” one white glove and all!

They say on commentary that Nguyen claims she puts more into her entrances than she does the fight camp, and I believe it. Not because she isn’t a good fighter! Her entrances are just that elaborate.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this fight, honestly. Miyuu did it. She won. And she looked spectacular doing it. She may be 44-years-old, but man is that not obvious when you see her compete.

She has been a high-caliber wrestler since the 1990’s and has multiple world championships to back up that claim. Back at RIZIN 11, she showcased a much-improved all-around game, including some nice striking.

Against Nguyen, she went back to her roots. Single legs, double legs, body locks, Miyuu was pulling out all the stops to get the loss back from Nguyen. And she did just that.

To her credit, Nguyen tried. For the little amount of time they were on the feet, she tried to get a striking game going. But the only real notable strike she landed throughout was third-round Kikuno kick to the stomach of Yamamoto, but Miyuu was out to make a statement.

She did it for herself while also doing it for her brother. And something tells me “KID” would be very proud of her. Props to Nguyen and Yamamoto for the respect post-fight, as well. Just beautiful to see.

Miyuu Yamamoto has yet to get a finish in her career but has come close in all three of her wins. This win over Nguyen was her second unanimous decision victory. She gets revenge against one of the three women who has defeated her. It is the fifth time Nguyen has been on the wrong end of a one-sided unanimous decision.

In a bit of a novel stat, Yamamoto is now the first fighter in RIZIN history to avenge a loss from a previous show.

Worth noting that post-fight Miyuu Yamamoto took to the microphone. First fighter all night allowed a post-fight interview. Given the circumstances, that is awesome.


Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

Tenshin Nasukawa and Kyoji Horiguchi mid-exchange. (© RIZIN FF)

Here we go. The main attraction of RIZIN 13, the technical main event, the fight that single-handedly brought 27,000 fans to the arena despite an upcoming typhoon.

Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kyoji Horiguchi under kickboxing rules.

Kickboxing legend Peter Aerts joins Trigg and Ferraro on commentary for this one, and I’m almost certain he is wasted, but I love it. “Kick the legs” indeed, Peter. Every time.

The one thing that becomes blatantly obvious when watching this, even if you are someone who has no idea who either of these fighters are, this is a big fight. And that big fight feel is very, very prevalent.

Kyoji Horiguchi comes out, per usual, to “My Time,” and I believe him. I believe that this madman thinks despite being 0-0 in kickboxing, he’s going to take out the 28-0 phenom that is Tenshin Nasukawa. And the way he can’t wipe the smile off his face during the walkout almost makes me believe it’s going to happen as well.

Tenshin’s entrance follows. and by this point, oh god, the goosebumps.

Rarely these days do super-fights happen, but even when they do, it’s pretty typical for them to just feel like a normal fight. Not here. The atmosphere is special. And it is making this genuinely feel like a mega-fight is about to go down.

The fight was, simply put, fantastic.

The intensity throughout was insanity. Both guys got their licks in during round one, but things started to heat up in round two. Tenshin launched a cartwheel kick that Horiguchi wound up catching, and the two engaged in some heated exchanges.

There was, unfortunately, two low blows from Tenshin. After the second blow, the referee seemed to be talking to people ringside and considering a point deduction. Horiguchi – the man who would’ve benefited greatly from a potential deduction – was having none of it. Basically telling the ref to resume the fight. He is insane, and it is amazing.

The opening rounds were highly-competitive, perhaps more than they should have been. But round three is when Tenshin came alive and showed why he is Tenshin. He threw everything including the kitchen sink at Horiguchi, but he just couldn’t stop him.

Pre-fight the big comparison was KID/Masato. A fight that took place 14-years ago, and arguably the biggest in Japanese history. It saw kickboxing megastar Masato take on MMA megastar “KID” Yamamoto under kickboxing rules. Sound familiar?

Tenshin/Horiguchi is a deserving heir to that fight’s throne, absolutely.

Both men get a chance on the mic post-fight, and it’s just total respect all around. Tenshin commenting on Horiguchi’s ridiculous chin, and Horiguchi giving Tenshin all the credit in the world for being an absolute animal and phenom.

“You beat me tonight, Tenshin. But I can beat you in fishing.”

Kyoji Horiguchi

Go watch this fight.


INTERMISSION

TEKKEN 7 TOURNAMENT

(© RIZIN FF)

As mentioned previously, about 4,500 words ago, the Saitama crowd would begin to dwindle out after Tenshin vs. Horiguchi due to a typhoon. And that’s exactly what happened.

We were hit with an unexpected intermission, and it was because a vast majority of audience members had to head out before they were unable to get home thanks to the typhoon.

During this intermission, a TEKKEN 7 tournament took place. Oddly enough, the Fite TV stream was just a highlight of previous fights of the night on repeat. The live tournament was going down on TEKKEN’s Twitch account.

Unfortunately, that is about all I can tell you due to the fact I don’t speak Japanese.

It was Japan vs. South Korea. Three Japanese TEKKEN pros vs. three Korean TEKKEN pros. Korea came out on top 2-1.

I would also like to play TEKKEN at the Saitama Super Arena, thanks.


Daron Cruickshank (21-10) vs. Diego Brandao (23-12)

Daron Cruickshank knocks out Diego Brandao. (© RIZIN FF)

Two very recognizable names in this one. All-action lightweights Daron Cruickshank and Diego Brandao are both equally incredibly exciting, but also very different.

The American is as flashy as it gets. He’ll throw everything, including wild techniques, with picture-perfect technique, and his arsenal is plentiful. He came into the night with three-straight wins. In just those three bouts he’s showcased Mirko-esque left headkicks, rolling thunders, wheel kicks, spinning back-fists, mounted elbows, and virtually everything else you can imagine.

The violent Brazilian is just raw power. Nothing flashy about his game. He throws bombs and typically puts people to sleep on impact. Along with a great striking game, Brandao is also a fantastic grappler with multiple highlight-reel submissions to his name.

Round one was tense throughout. Brandao constantly wading in with looping shots that Cruickshank was forced to narrowly avoid. Amidst getting tagged a few times, he worked in some nice body kicks to keep the Brazilian at bay. And then, in round two, the finish came.

Very early in the round, with his back against the corner of the ring, Cruickshank went airborne with a flying knee that slept Brandao. He adds another highlight to an already extensive highlight reel.

The second-round KO is knockout #14 of Cruickshank’s career, but his first ever by way of flying-knee. Prior to RIZIN 13, Brandao had not been knocked out since facing Conor McGregor in 2014. The Brazilian has now been knocked out seven times since his 2005 debut.


Mikuru Asakura (7-1) vs. Karshyga Dautbek (6-1)

Mikuru Asakura punches Karshyga Dautbek. (© RIZIN FF)

In the second and final Asakura Brother vs. Tiger Muay Thai bout of the night, Mikuru Asakura takes on Karshyga Dautbek. And, honestly, there’s not much to say here. It played out very much like Kai vs. Topnoi from earlier in the night.

Multiple takedowns from Mikuru, lots of ground-and-pound, a tight guillotine early. It was a very solid and rounded performance by Asakura.

Dautbek landed a few bombs in the fight and scored a good takedown of his own, but it just wasn’t anywhere near enough.

Mikuru Asakura won his third-straight bout and is now 2-0 in RIZIN. This is only his second victory by way of decision, the other coming earlier this year in his sole DEEP bout. Prior to this defeat, Karshyga had never seen the judges’ scorecards in his MMA career. This loss snapped a five-fight win streak.

Dautbek becomes the first person to proudly represent Kazakhstan in RIZIN, despite the loss.


Kazuyuki Miyata Retirement

Kazuyuki Miyata addresses Japanese fans. (© RIZIN FF)

Very quickly prior to the final fight of the night, 42-year-old “Little Hercules” Kazuyuki Miyata took to the ring.

The 24-fight, 14-year veteran announced his retirement, saying he will compete at RIZIN 14 on NYE for the final time.

Miyata is a former “KID” Yamamoto foe but has not competed in two years. The last time we saw him in the ring was in December of 2016 under the RIZIN banner, here he submitted Andy Souwer in the first-round with an armbar. He has won four straight and is hoping to leave the sport with five-straight victories.


Jiri Prochazka (21-3) vs. Jake Heun (11-7)

Jiri Prochazka stops Jake Heun. (© RIZIN FF)

And finally, here we are. The final fight of RIZIN 13.

PFL, WSOF, and ROAD FC veteran Jake Heun of Alaska makes his RIZIN debut. A fan-friendly fighter who has a style that could fit in quite well with RIZIN. Unfortunately for him, he was fed to the sharks in his debut against always-violent Czech Jiri Prochazka.

In another contender for walkout of the night, Jake Heun comes out to “Danger Zone” fully rocking a Top Gun getup. Not a terrible first impression. At all.

The story heading into this fight really has nothing to do with this fight. Prochazka wants Cro Cop. That is the story here. Per usual, the Czech is all-business and ready to murder somebody.

There is not a whole lot to mention here, sadly. Jiri worked his feints early, but he beat Heun up. And didn’t need very long to do it. Jake Heun attempted to land a few big shots but didn’t connect with anything significant. Meanwhile; Prochazka was busting up Jake with combos and big shots to force a standing (T)KO mid-way through round one.

Prochazka gets win #22 and (T)KO #19. This is his 20th first-round finish. He is currently riding a six-fight win streak with five finishes. One of RIZIN’s longest-tenured athletes, Prochazka has been present since their debut show in 2015. Since then he has gone 7-1 in the promotion. Those seven victories officially tie him with Kyoji Horiguchi for most victories in RIZIN, as well. Big night for the Czech brawler.

With six knockouts in the organization, Jiri Prochazka holds the record for most KO’s inside a RIZIN ring. And oh, what do you know, Mirko Cro Cop is just behind him with five.

Losing for the third time in 19-fights by way of (T)KO, Jake Heun has dropped two-straight. Perhaps the worrying part? All three of those (T)KO losses have happened within his last four fights.

As previously stated, I do believe Heun has a style built for RIZIN. So hopefully he gets another shot with the organization, maybe not against an absolute killer right away.


Final Thoughts

I love RIZIN. In my personal opinion; the best thing in combat sports today.

Every event feels like a big deal. All the fighters feel like a big deal. The fighters all come across as unique individuals as opposed to being apart of a giant machine, a revolving door of fighters.

It is the most I have enjoyed MMA in years, and I have thought this since their first show on December 29, 2015. It kind of rejuvenated my love for combat sports. My stance is not unique. I know many others will echo that same sentiment, but I feel like so much more would as well if they’d give it the chance it deserves.

The roster is chock-full of absolute killers and some of the best fighters on the planet. It may not be as deep as other organizations, but that’s beyond the point.

MMA can be more than just a fight. MMA can be fun and enjoyable. The entrances can be lavish, sometimes even silly. That doesn’t mean the fights aren’t world-class. One card featuring 12-fights isn’t automatically a terrible freakshow card because Bob Sapp happens to be one of 24 fighters featured.

Japan gets it. They understand that there is more to the sport than what we typically would see in North America. It’s not just about the fights with RIZIN. It’s about the experience as a whole, and when coupled with the always incredible fights, these events are must-watch.

There has been fifteen RIZIN events to date. When the worst thing that can be said about any of those shows is that it was great, clearly they’re doing something correct. They have the formula, and if they continue with that, RIZIN is going to become a massive, massive deal. Which is exactly what it should be.

Go watch RIZIN 13. Do that much for yourself. See you guys in December for RIZIN 14.

 

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