RIZIN has not had a great week. During a press conference, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced the cancellation of their RIZIN 22 and RIZIN 23 May show due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The same week, RIZIN bantamweight champion Manel Kape announced on his Instagram that he had signed a with the UFC.
RIZIN 22 was expected to take place on April 19 at the Yokohama Arena. One fight was officially announced between Mikuru Asakura vs. Kotetsu Boku. Other fighters on the poster include Kape, Kai Asakura, Luiz Gustavo, and Tofiq Musayev. On a press conference streamed on Youtube (press conference is entirely in Japanese), Sakakibara said it was in the best interests for the fans to not run the show. He also announced that their show in May, RIZIN 23, that was to take place in Sedai is also canceled.
Sakakibara said they are aiming for a show in July, in which they hope to have a humongous martial arts show. “We have plans to make martial arts Olympics,” Sakakibara said.
Sakakibara also said they are looking to reschedule the RIZIN 22 and 23 shows for later in the year.
RIZIN’s second bantamweight champion, Manel Kape, announced on March 31 his signing with the UFC. He signed a four-fight deal and will be competing for the promotion’s seemingly restarted flyweight division. Kape is the second Angolan born fighter to be on the UFC roster.
“It is with great enthusiasm and joy that I announce that I am the new athlete of the UFC. I am extremely grateful to all the people who have made and are a part of my sports career, because alone I would not be where I am or achieved what I have already achieved,” Kape wrote on his Instagram.
“The road was long, hard and cruel, but with persistent dedication and hard work we all managed to achieve our goals… My work, my focus, and my determination will be redoubled, as I aim for this year or the next to become world champion again.”
Kape became RIZIN champion after replacing an injured Kyoji Horiguchi at RIZIN 20. He knocked out Kai Asakura in the second round.
This is RIZIN’s second fighter this year who signed with the UFC. The first was RIZIN light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka.