Brackets have been announced for RIZIN’s much talked about lightweight grand prix. The matches were revealed last week during a press conference. Matchups were made by random lottery draw. The first round of fights will be kicking off at RIZIN 19 at the Edion Arena in Osaka October 12. To see the other fights that have been announced so far click here.
Tofiq Musayev vs. Damien Brown
Tofiq Musayev (15-3) is a 29-year-old Azerbaijani fighter who has not been beaten since 2015. He beat Daron Cruickshank by unanimous decision to qualify for the tournament at RIZIN 16. In his debut at RIZIN 14, he knocked out Nobumitsu Osawa with hammer fists. Musayev said via video at the press conference, “I’m happy with the matchup. Honestly I didn’t really care who I face in the first round. I am here to beat everybody who stands in front of me.”
Australia’s Damien “Beatdown” Brown (19-12), along with his opponent, are undefeated in the RIZIN ring. In his RIZIN debut, Brown submitted Cruickshank at RIZIN 14 with a guillotine choke. In Brown’s qualifying match, he went to a decision with DEEP lightweight champion Koji Takeda. Takeda was undefeated at the time. Brown told MMASucka, “I’m happy with my match up. I think he’s the dark horse so it’ll be nice to get it done early. I’m excited to fight someone who brings a high work rate.”
Johnny Case vs. Roberto de Souza
Johnny “Hollywood” Case (26-6-1) enters the tournament undefeated in RIZIN with two TKO stoppages. In his debut, he ended his fight with Yusuke Yachi due to doctor stoppage. Case caused enough damage to Yachi that doctors waved off the fight. In his qualifying match against Satoru Kitaoka, Kitaoka’s corner threw in the towel after the first round ended. Case, who fights out of the Las Vegas team Xtreme Couture, has not lost a fight since June 2017. He told MMASucka, “I’m very much looking forward to this matchup. Satoshi has some good skills to bring to the table and will be a very formidable opponent.”
Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza (9-0) enters the tournament as the only undefeated fighter. He has finished all of his fights. Also, none have gone to the third round. Originally from Brazil, he resides in Japan where he teaches jiu-jitsu with his brother Marcos. He has knocked out both of his opponents during his RIZIN tenure. In his qualifying match, he sent former UFC fighter Mizuto Hirota down to the canvas with knockout punch. “I am very happy with the opponent since I didn’t want to face any Japanese fighter yet. What I really want is the RIZIN belt and I want this belt to stay in Japan,” he said during the press conference.
Hiroto Uesako vs. Luiz Gustavo
Hiroto Uesako (16-7) comes into the tournament with only one RIZIN fight, but made sure to memorably dispatch his opponent in said match. Uesako finished with punches Yves Landu at RIZIN 18 to secure his spot in the tournament. A former DEEP featherweight champion, Uesako is on a three-fight win streak finishing all of his opponents. He said at the press conference, “I am honored to be part of this prestigious Grand Prix, even though I have only fought for RIZIN once. As long as I’m in it, I am here to win the entire thing. I will put on an exciting performance and make it over to New Year’s Eve.”
Luiz “Killer” Gustavo (9-1)is the youngest fighter in the tournament at 23. He has finished all of his fights. In his debut, he went up a weight class to lightweight and knocked out Yusuke Yachi. He took the fight on little more than a week’s notice. His one loss was a decision loss against Mikuru Asakura this year. He said, “I am happy to be participating in the GP, and I look forward in putting on an exciting performance every time I fight.”
Patricky “Pitbull” Freier vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Representing Bellator MMA, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire enters as the sole fighter to have never fought in RIZIN, or Japan for that matter. He comes in with the most knockouts in Bellator at 10 and is on a five-fight win streak. Three of those wins have by knockout. Pitbull said, “I respect Kawajiri a lot. I have been watching him fight from 10 years ago. I have always wanted to fight a top PRIDE fighter. This is a great fight for me and for my career.”
Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (37-13-2) is the oldest fighter and no stranger to MMA tournaments. The 41-year-old Kawajiri has competed in tournaments in Shooto, PRIDE, and DREAM. His RIZIN record has not been, going a total of 2-3. He did win his qualifying match against Ali Abdulkhalikov by decision. He said, “I am very motivated to be encountering a Bellator fighter, and am motivated to win this GP. I know he said he respects me and all, but in the ring he is going to try to take my head off. I’m looking forward to a battle and to survive to make it to New Year’s Eve.”