Justin Scoggins replaces an injured Ulka Sasaki at RIZIN 15 + three new bout additions
In one of the most highly-anticipated bouts on the RIZIN 15 fight card, former UFC standout Ulka Sasaki was set to take on rising star Kai Asakura. Unfortunately, a visceral infection has caused Sasaki to pull out of the contest.
In his place steps another UFC veteran, flashy striker Justin “Tank” Scoggins. The news was confirmed on Wednesday morning.
Also added to the card was two pivotal women’s flyweight bouts, and the return of the heavy-hitting Swede; Karl Albrektsson.
Kai Asakura vs. Justin Scoggins
At just 25-years-old, Kai Asakura (12-1) has been on an absolute tear since joining the RIZIN ranks in late 2017. Entering the promotion after a knockout loss to Jae Hoon Moon in ROAD FC, the former The Outsider champ took out Kizaemon Saiga in brutal fashion in his debut.
Since that successful RIZIN debut, and after never going the distance in his MMA career, Asakura has won three-straight, with all three of these wins coming by way of decision. He defeated Manel Kape in somewhat controversial fashion, and then decisively took out Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai and Jae Hoon Moon. All thee of these wins came in 2018, and it was all capped off with him avenging his sole career loss to Moon.
Known for his flashy karate style, Justin Scoggins (11-6) has been competing at the highest level of the sport since 2013 when he signed with the UFC. His run with the promotion came to an end in 2018, with Scoggins amassing a record of 4-5 in the organization.
With wins over the likes of Ray Borg, Josh Sampo, and Richie Vaculik, he made a nice run for himself in the UFC. His losses came against some high-caliber opposition in the form of Josh Moraga, Dustin Ortiz, Pedro Munhoz, Said Nurmagomedov, and funnily enough, the man Scoggins will be replacing at RIZIN 15; Ulka Sasaki.
The Nurmagomedov was the last of his career, and the split decision call for the Russian was a controversial one. “Tank” was beating Sasaki handily on the feet before making a few silly mistakes and getting caught in a choke in round two. He made his RIZIN debut at RIZIN 15 and was defeated by former DEEP title-holder Yuki Motoya by way of teepee choke, marking his fourth-straight loss.
Karl Albrektsson vs. Christiano Frohlich
Fighting out of Pancrase Gym Sweden, the well-rounded Karl Albrektsson (8-2) is one of the top fighters out of Sweden alongside the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, a fellow light heavyweight athlete.
Albrektsson has a 2-2 record in RIZIN, including wins over Vadim Nemkov and Teodoras Aukstuolis. His two losses came against Valentin Moldavsky and Jiri Prochazka, with Albrektsson looking great early on vs. Prochazka before getting finished in the final three seconds of the ten minute opening round.
“King” Karl has won two-straight in Superior Challenge since his last RIZIN outing, picking up a knockout in both bouts.
Christiano Frohlich (10-4) is a Wanderlei Silva protege and fights out of Evolucao Thai MMA in Brazil alongside of the likes of Sergio Moraes, Rafael Carvalho, and Luiz Gustavo. He is an exciting fighter who has finished seven of his ten career wins.
A winner of six of his last seven, “Urso” most recently defeated Eduardo Rufino at Katana Fight 5, successfully rebounding from a loss to Hayward Charles in LFA. Prior to this loss, Frohlich fought and beat some solid opposition in the form of Cortez Coleman, Edilberto de Oliveira, and Leonardo Guimares.
Kana Watanabe vs. Justyna Haba
Following three-straight first-round finishes, the undefeated Kana Watanabe (6-0-1) is riding a massive wave of momentum. After a majority draw against Yukari Nabe in early 2018, Watanabe rematched Nabe a few months later and won very decisively.
Since then she has finished three-straight opponents. This includes a first-round armbar against a game Asami Nakai, a wild 11-second knockout against Shizuka Sugiyama, and most recently at DEEP JEWELS 23, a first-round mauling of Soo Ming Kang.
Opposite Watanabe will be another incredibly tough foe in the form of real-life “Lara Croft,” Justyna Haba (1-0), a former Polish soldier. After a successful amateur run, Haba decided to turn pro last year and faced fan-favourite Shinju Nozawa-Auclair in her debut at RIZIN 14.
Coming in as an unknown, she had virtually no pressure on her. Despite this, she delivered. After a close opening round, Haba got mount in round two and pummelled Shinju with huge shots to create some nasty swelling. All this before locking in a rear naked choke and sleeping the previously unbeaten prospect. Speaking of Shinju Nozawa…
Shinju Nozawa-Auclair vs. Saray Orozco
Returning to action after a devastating loss, and the first loss of her pro career, Shinju Nozawa-Auclair (2-1) is ready to get back on track in Yokohama. Prior to the Haba defeat, Shinju won two-straight in RIZIN, both by first-round armbar.
Though the level of opposition wasn’t the best, she did earn a pro win over Chelsea LaGrasse. This was her avenging her sole amateur loss to LaGrasse. Shinju trains out of El Nino Training Center alongside the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Keri Melendez, and many others.
Fighting out of Legion MMA in Mexico, not much is known of Saray Orozco (3-2). But if she fights the way Mexicans have been known to fight for generations, then she is an outstanding pick-up for RIZIN Fighting Federation.
With five professional bouts across five different local promotions in Mexico, Orozco competed just one time every year from 2015 to 2017. After going 1-2 while doing so, she decided to be more consistent in 2018, winning two-straight.
RIZIN 15 is slated to go down on April 21, live from the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.
The night will see Jiri Prochazka and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal fight for the first-ever RIZIN Light Heavyweight Championship. We will also see the return of RIZIN bantamweight title-holder Kyoji Horiguchi as he faces Ben Nguyen in a non-title contest.
Rounding out the card will be the debuts of Koji Takeda and Roberto de Souza, as well as the returns of Mikuru Asakura, Luiz Gustavo, Damien Brown, and Manel Kape.