Asian MMA

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell headlines nine RIZIN 14 additions

Image for Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell headlines nine RIZIN 14 additions

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell among nine additions to RIZIN 14!

Nearly a month has passed since it was announced that Floyd Mayweather vs. Tenshin Nasukawa would headline RIZIN 14. And finally, after two more fight announcements a few days ago, the rest of the card is starting to take shape with nine more bouts being confirmed.

RIZIN mainstays such as Kyoji Horiguchi, Jiri Prochazka, Daron Cruickshank, Yusuke Yachi, and Rena Kubota will be present. As will a few new signees, however. Current Bellator champ Darrion Caldwell and former Bellator title-holder Emmanuel Newton will compete.

RIZIN Fighting Federation has also signed four UFC veterans to compete at RIZIN 14. Damien Brown and Johnny Case join the lightweight ranks, as very recent UFC competitors Ulka Sasaki and Justin Scoggins look to make their promotional debuts as well.

All of this and more below, as RIZIN announced nine new bouts for NYE.

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell

Well, Bellator CEO Scott Coker called for it weeks ago, and it is now actually happening.

Former top-ranked UFC flyweight contender and current Japanese star, Kyoji Horiguchi (25-2) will look to make it eleven-straight wins at RIZIN 14. After leaving the UFC in 2017 riding the wave of three-straight wins the year prior, Horiguchi signed with RIZIN Fighting Federation to the delight of the mixed martial arts community.

Within just 15 months of his promotional debut, he had won seven straight. Defeating the likes of Hideo Tokoro, Yuki Motoya, Hiromasa Ogikubo, Ian McCall, and Shintaro Ishiwatari, he also won the 2017 RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix Championship. Now, after facing 20-year-old phenom Tenshin Nasukawa in a blockbuster kickboxing main event at RIZIN 13, a “Wolf” awaits the 28-year-old American Top Team product.

Alliance MMA prospect Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell (12-1, 1NC) enters the RIZIN ring while proudly holding the Bellator MMA Bantamweight Championship, with his eyes set on going for featherweight gold as well. Following a 3-0 run in Legacy FC to start his career, Caldwell has competed in Bellator for his last eleven bouts exclusively.

With permission from the organization due to the Bellator bantamweight division being a little crowded right now, the former NCAA Wrestling Champion heads to Japan riding four-straight wins. After a shocking come-from-behind loss to Joe Taimanglo, the former All-American went on to get his revenge on Taimanglo before absolutely dominating Eduardo Dantas to win the title. Caldwell then went on to quickly defend his belt against Leandro Higo before most recently competing at featherweight and taking out Noad Lahat in August at Bellator 204.

He heads into RIZIN 14 with a large size advantage over a red-hot Kyoji Horiguchi.

Daron Cruickshank vs. Damien Brown

The always exciting fan-favorite Daron Cruickshank (22-10, 1NC) heads into NYE after four-straight stellar knockout wins. “The Detroit Superstar” began his RIZIN run with two emphatic finishes, before losing two-straight by way of devastating first-round finish. Since then, Cruickshank has looked better than ever and hasn’t faced much of a challenge since.

After a 2017 KOP knockout win, Cruickshank competed three times this year in the RIZIN ring, going 3-0 in the process. We’ve seen a bit of everything from him in these most recent outings. Devastating headkick KO vs. Matsumoto, brutal elbows from mount against Tom Santos, and his first ever flying-knee knockout over Diego Brandao back at RIZIN 13.

Making his RIZIN debut, Damien “Beatdown” Brown (17-12) is quite frankly the perfect fighter for the Japanese MMA platform. A former XFC title-holder, Brown is known for his always gutsy showings in both winning and losing efforts.

His fun brawling style has led him to a 2-4 record in the UFC, including a serious contender for Fight of the Year in 2017 vs. Frank Camacho. Brown nears his RIZIN debut on the heels of three-straight UFC losses. This includes a first-round knockout against Vinc Pichel and two somewhat controversial decision losses to Frank Camacho and Dong Hyun Kim. The defeat to Kim came back in February at UFC 221. This was Brown’s most recent outing.

Jiri Prochazka vs. Emanuel Newton

After what seems like a year of build to Prochazka vs. Mirko Cro Cop, that is not what we’re getting at RIZIN 14. Luckily, Jiri Prochazka (22-3-1) will still be competing. The violent Czech is one of the winning-est fighters in RIZIN history, with a record of 7-1 in the organization.

After two-straight knockouts in two days during RIZIN’s inaugural grand-prix in 2017, Prochazka lost to former Strikeforce title-holder “King Mo” in the championship bout. Since that loss, Prochazka is a perfect 6-0. Aside from one Fusion FN win to get back into the swing of things post-injury in 2017, he has absolutely brutalized the opposition in RIZIN. He has smashed Bruno Cappelozza and Jake Heun thus far in 2018 for first-round finishes. Can he do the same at RIZIN 14?

Opposite him will be a man who went from a relatively high profile to seemingly falling off the face of the earth. Emanuel Newton (26-13-1) is a former Bellator MMA Light Heavyweight Champion who went on one of the most surprising and impressive streaks in the organization’s history.

From early 2013 to late 2014, Newton went from obscurity to the top of Bellator. Winning seven-straight bouts, including the 205-lb championship, he defeated “King Mo” twice, Atila Vegh, Joey Beltran, and Linton Vassell. However, including an early 2015 title loss to Liam McGeary, the former Bellator champ has since gone 1-6 with his sole win coming against Matt Baker.

Yusuke Yachi vs. Johnny Case

One of the best fighters out of KRAZY BEE returns to action at RIZIN 14, as Yusuke Yachi (20-7) looks to get back to his winning ways in Saitama. This, of course, following a crushing second-round knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva protege Luiz Gustavo at RIZIN 12 over the summer.

Before this loss, Yachi was on fire. Winning six-straight and scoring big finishes over the likes of Daron Cruickshank, Satoru Kitaoka, and Takanori Gomi. In his most recent win, Yachi outpointed Diego Nunes back in May in a very hard-fought and fun battle at RIZIN 10.

Like a few other fighters in this write-up, UFC-veteran Johnny Case (24-6-1) will be making his Japanese debut on NYE. “Hollywood” is a six-fight veteran of the UFC, posting a record of 4-2 in the promotion.

The former Midwest Cage Champion entered the UFC with eight-straight wins, and he continued his winning ways when joining the big leagues. Finishing Frankie Perez and Kazuki Tokudome during what would be a 4-0 start to his UFC career. Unfortunately, after dropping two-straight to Tony Martin and Jake Matthews, his was promptly released. The MMA Lab fighter is 2-0 on the regional scene this year, picking up KO wins under the Iron Boy MMA and Extreme Beatdown banners.

Nobumitsu Osawa vs. Tofiq Musayev

In what will be his first non-Shooto bout as a professional, Nobumitsu Osawa (12-4) enters the RIZIN lightweight division following a big knockout inside Korakuen Hall back in September. The former Shooto title-holder starched Yu Tanaka with a left-hook as part of his current three-fight win streak.

The Tsudanuma MMA Dojo fighter considers Melvin Manhoef a personal hero, and it shows in his fighting style. Not the cleanest striker in the world, but “Tyson” is an extremely powerful and explosive striker. The former bodybuilder looks to eventually earn a third fight with Koshi Matsumoto, as his last two defeats were against him. It is worth noting that Osawa competed on Road to the UFC: Japan in a losing effort against Mizuto Hirota.

It will be no easy RIZIN debut for “Tyson” as across the ring from him will be a streaking Tofiq Musayev (13-3) out of Azerbaijan. After a less-than-stellar 4-3 start to his career, Musayev went on to win nine-straight and is currently riding that big wave of momentum.

Musayev has finished all thirteen of his career wins, this includes his current run of nine-straight knockouts. He earned the biggest win of his career back in May by knockout out a 20-1-1 Marif Piraev in the opening round at WFCA 48. Musayev is slated to face Fares Ziam at WWFC 13 on December 15.

Ulka Sasaki vs. Manel Kape

Making his RIZIN debut after just fighting in the UFC less than two weeks ago, Ulka Sasaki (21-6-2) heads back home to Japan after an eight-fight stint in the UFC. Though never near the top, his time in the company was spent being utilized as a solid 135-lb / 125-lb gatekeeper. He used a solid grappling game to go a respectable 4-5 in the company. This includes wins over Roland Delorme and Justin Scoggins.

Prior to his four-year UFC run, Sasaki was a Shooto Champion at 60kg following an 11-second KO vs. Kenji Yamamoto. Despite growing up watching PRIDE, and getting into MMA in hopes of becoming the next Takanori Gomi, the Shizuoka native has adopted a more grapple-heavy game. This made evident by him qualifying for the 2013 ADCC World Championships.

Fighting out Portugal, Manel Kape (12-3) signed with RIZIN in 2017 and wasn’t taken very seriously. Despite an absolute starching of Erson Yamamoto. Now, some time has passed, and he is viewed as a very legitimate fighter and one of the best lighter-weight guys on RIZIN’s loaded roster.

The criticisms for Kape were also felt by himself! As he upped his life and shifted his training to AKA Thailand following his controversial loss to Kai Asakura. This so he could take the sport more seriously, and in turn have the sport take him more seriously. Prior to a third-round submission loss, “Prodigio” was giving Kyoji Horiguchi some fits in the 2017 RIZIN Bantamweight Grand-Prix. This after defeating Ian McCall two days prior. Kape followed up a tight split decision loss to Kai Asakura by choking out Yusaku Nakamura at RIZIN 13.

Yuki Motoya vs. Justin Scoggins

CLUB BARBARIAN IMPACT’s Yuki Motoya (22-5, 1NC) has long been considered one of the most under-appreciated fighters in Japan, and for good reason. He is a former DEEP Flyweight Champion, and the current DEEP Bantamweight Champion. After losing to Tatsumitsu Wada in August of 2013, Motoya went on an 11-fight unbeaten run before losing to Kyoji Horiguchi in a competitive affair in what was Horiguchi’s promotional debut for RIZIN in April of 2017.

The loss to Horiguchi has since been followed up with four-straight wins. This includes defeating Je Hoon Moon during the final MMA show inside the Differ Ariake, a dominant submission win over Kazuma Sone at RIZIN 12, and a vacant bantamweight title win against Makoto Kamaya at DEEP 86 Impact.

Much like Sasaki, Justin “Tank” Scoggins (11-5) is one of the talents presumed to have been let go by the UFC due to the organization getting rid of the flyweight division. Also like Sasaki; he will be taking his talents East to join the RIZIN ranks. The kempo karate specialist joins RIZIN in a situation relatively similar to the one Daron Cruickshank was in when he signed. A very exciting, flashy striker who was inconsistent in the UFC, but whose style meshes perfectly with the Japanese fan-friendly ruleset.

From 2013 to now, the former American Top Team rep amassed a record of 4-5 in the UFC. This includes wins over the likes of Ray Borg and Josh Sampo. He leaves the UFC following three straight losses after being defeated by Said Nurmagomedov back in July. In his bout prior to this, Scoggins was putting on a clinic vs. Ulka Sasaki before the Japanese fighter pulled the comeback rear naked choke finish in round two.

Rena Kubota vs. Samantha Jean-Francois

After rumors of her retiring following the RIZIN 11 loss to Kanna Asakura, fan-favorite striker Rena Kubota (7-2) returns at RIZIN 14. The Shoot Boxing star is a former flyweight world champion and a four-time S-Cup winner. Undefeated in S-Cup competition, RENA is often referred to as the face of female Shoot Boxing. In striking competition, she has defeated the likes of Seo Hee Ham, Hisae Watanabe, and Mei Yamaguchi.

However, since making her MMA debut in 2015, the already established fighter began to make a name for herself in a new sport. After beginning with six-straight finishes, RENA was defeated by the young darkhorse Kanna Asakura in the finals of the 2017 Super Atomweight Grand-Prix. She defeated Elaine Leal seven months after the Kanna loss to earn a rematch with Kanna Asakura at RIZIN 11. This marked Kubota’s second career loss as a mixed martial artist.

As RENA looks to get back on track, so does her opponent; Samantha Jean-Francois (3-5, 1NC) of Marseille, France. As evident by her record, “Spicy” doesn’t have a notable career to discuss at this time. But she hopes to change that with a big win over Rena Kubota on NYE.

Samantha Jean-Francois is a former Weili Zhang victim. The combined record of the three fighters she was able to defeat in pro competition is 1-8-1.

Shinju Nozawa-Auclair vs. Justyna Hana

And finally; Shinju Nozawa-Auclair returns to action, looking to make it 3-0 vs. the debuting Justyna Haba.

After a 2-1 amateur run, “Juju” made her RIZIN debut in July of 2017 and made easy work of Sheena Brandenburg. Following the successful pro debut, Shinju defeated Chelsea LaGrasse on NYE 2017. That was LaGrasse’s professional debut, and LaGrasse was the one fighter to defeat Shinju as an amateur.

Justyna Haba was a highly-touted amateur flyweight prospect — back in 2014. She has not competed since.

RIZIN 14 is slated to take place on December 31, 2018, live from the Saitama Super Arena. The main event will be a boxing exhibition between Floyd Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa. Despite the show already having a stacked twelve-fight card, more bouts are reportedly to come.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Tenshin Nasukawa
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Darrion Caldwell
Kanna Asakura vs. Ayaka Hamasaki
Daron Cruickshank vs. Damien Brown
Jiri Prochazka vs. Emmanuel Newton
Erson Yamamoto vs. Kazuyuki Miyata
Yusuke Yachi vs. Johnny Case
Nobumitsu Osawa vs. Tofiq Musayev
Ulka Sasaki vs. Manel Kape
Yuki Motoya vs. Justin Scoggins
Rena Kubota vs. Samantha Jean-Francois
Shinju Nozawa-Auclair vs. Justyna Haba

Share this article

Follow me on Twitter @MikeLovesTacosX.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *