RIZIN 18 is over a month away and the main event was just announced earlier this morning at a press conference. Headlining the show will be RIZIN FF and Bellator MMA bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (28-2), he’ll be taking on top ranked bantamweight Kai Asakura (12-1) in a non-title fight. The show takes place August 18 at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.
Announced RIZIN 18 Bouts
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Kai Asakura
“Kyoji Horiguchi may just be the best bantamweight in the world at the moment. And out of all the options we had, I do believe that Kai Asakura is the best option who would be able to fight Horiguchi with the most motivation and determination,” said RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
“He’s young, hungry, and has been our rising bantamweight and most of all, he will be taking on the greatest fighter in his home town in front of hundreds of his supporters.”
Horiguchi last month became a co-promotional champion when he beat Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell at Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden for the Bellator bantamweight championship. The American Top Team fighter beat him by unanimous decision. At RIZIN 14 in December, he submitted Caldwell by guillotine choke to became the first RIZIN bantamweight champion. Horiguchi is also on a 13-fight win streak.
Asakura was supposed to take on Ulka Sasaki, then Justin Scoggins at RIZIN 16 but both fighters had to cancel due to medical reasons. Asakura’s bad luck continued as he suffered a broken orbital bone while training and was pulled from RIZIN 16.
Asakura is undefeated in RIZIN and has defeated Kizaemon Saiga, Manel Kape, Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai, and Jae Hoon Moon. A win over Horiguchi would make him eligible for a title shot over at a later time.
“After I challenged Kyoji Horiguchi on social media, I have received many messages
about me not having a chance, too early, all that kind of stuff. But I know I have a chance
and it’s in my home town. I know I will have my chances during the fight,” Asakura said.
“I have studied him, he’s a great fighter and has very little holes. But I have found out
some patterns and tells that I would like to utilize as my advantage… I will fight a fight where nobody has faced him like.”
Kanna Asakura vs. Alesha Zappitella
Kanna Asakura (14-4) (no relation to Kai) is looking to snap her two fight RIZIN losing streak with a win over Alesha “Half Pint” Zappitella (5-1, 1 NC). The former RIZIN super atomweight champion lost the belt to current champion Ayaka Hamasaki at RIZIN 14 by armbar submission then lost a unanimous decision fight to Miyuu Yamamoto at RIZIN 16. She said she is going to be a new figher with this fight.
“I am on a 2 fight losing streak, but I have learned from it and I plan to show a new
Kanna Asakura to the fans,” Asakura said. “My opponent is a great wrestler and she fights the fight I am not fond of as an opponent.”
Zappitella is a strong wrestler. She was a two time Olympic team trial qualifier in wrestling and also winning numerous national championships. This will be her RIZIN debut.
“I am incredibly honored for the opportunity, it has always been a dream of mine to fight for RIZIN. I am excited to put on a show for a crowd that respects martial arts so highly.”
Both fighters will be looking for a strong win after losing in their previous fights.
Manel Kape vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Expect this fight to have more fireworks than the Fourth of July as the Angolan native Manel “EZ Money” Kape (13-4) takes on Takeya Mizugaki (23-13-2).
Kape is a RIZIN favorite who is known for his showboating antics inside and outside the ring. The AKA Thailand fighter has dialed it back a bit, but still looks for an exciting finish to his fights. In RIZIN, he has wins over Ian McCall, Erson Yamamoto, Yusaku Nakamura, and Seiichiro Ito. Kape said he will be looking to “retire” Mizugaki with this fight.
“Looking at my next opponent, I see someone experienced and at the same time finished.
I know he does not want to do this anymore. The process of this sport is cruel physically
and psychologically, looking at his last fights I saw a fighter in a state of brutal decay,” he said.
“I know that this fight will expand more my name in Japanese territory, and that is my goal for the moment to expand my name and for that to happen August 18, I will retire with a lot of courtesy Takeya Mizugaki.”
Mizugaki is an MMA veteran of Shooto, WEC, and UFC. A former Cage Force bantamweight champion,he went 8-6 in the UFC. He has notable wins over Cole Escovedo, Bryan Caraway, and Nam Phan. He has his sights set on a fight against Horiguchi.
“I am grateful to Horiguchi and RIZIN for giving me a goal to keep on going in this sport I love. I plan to use this time period to get the Horiguchi fight and beat him,” he said.
Updated Card for RIZIN 18
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Kai Asakura (61kg non-title MMA fight)
Kanna Asakura vs. Alesha Zappitella (49kg)
Manel Kape vs. Takeya Mizugaki (61kg)
Hiroto Uesako vs. Yves Landu (71kg)
Takaki Soya vs. Yutaro Muramoto (59kg)
John Wayne Parr vs. Danilo Zanolini (Kickboxing 75kg)
Ryuji Horio vs. Uchu Sakurai (Kickboxing 57kg)
Shota Takiya vs. Kazuki Osaki (Kickboxing 53kg)