JMMA fans can rejoice! Japan looks to soon be reopening which means Japanese sports can come back. It looks like RIZIN might start having shows as early as June. RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara even hinted at a “martial arts mega event” that would be announced.
Most of 2020 was tough on the promotion. RIZIN had to cancel shows and lost champions to the UFC. Sakakibara even took to Twitter to express his frustrations over not being able to put on shows.
While on hiatus RIZIN has been using their Youtube channel to put on past fights. Whether you are new to the Japanese MMA promotion, a hardcore fan, or just looking for something a little different in MMA (like soccer kicks), these matches can satisfy your fight appetite.
Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (Kickboxing)
Crossover fights are all the rage now. Boxers going into MMA, MMA fighters going into boxing, and so on. Very rarely do these fights tend to showcase a level playing field. Floyd Mayweather barely broke a sweat against Conor McGregor. James Toney was a fish out of water in the few minutes he lasted with Randy Couture.
If you thought taking one of the best bantamweight and flyweight MMA fighters in the world and to have him face an undefeated world champion kickboxing prodigy in a kickboxing match, it would be another one-sided fight. Up until this fight, Kyoji Horiguchi was walking through all his opponents in MMA. Tenshin Nasukawa was already known as a human highlight reel with his finishes.
It all started with a call out by Horiguchi at a RIZIN show. Nasukawa was game for the challenge. J-MMA and J-kick fans bought into the build-up of the fight and it delivered. What resulted was an incredible fight with Horiguchi putting up more of a fight than some of the kickboxers Nasukawa had faced previously. It is one of the few crossover fights thatt didn’t turn into a squash match.
Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Seo Hee Ham
The women’s atomweight division is their most stacked division. They feature an array of talent from all over the world from Ayaka Hamasaki, Seo Hee Ham, Jinh Yu Frey, and many more. Eventually, a showdown between the two best has to happen.
Korea’s Seo Hee Ham, the ROAD FC atomweight champion, earned a reputation for punishing her opponents as if they weren’t practising proper social distancing. Nicknamed “Hamderlei,” she quickly rose the ranks of RIZIN to earn a championship against RIZIN super atomweight champion Hamasaki.
The two had fought twice previously with Hamasaki winning both times. But Ham had grown as a fighter since then.
When the two clashed for the third time, it became a bloody brawl, a tense grappling contest, and one of the most exciting fights of the year in women’s MMA.
Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo
I know I wrote before that RIZIN’s women’s atomweight division is their most stacked division, but the men’s bantamweight division is incredibly close. Their roster includes top-ranked fighters such as Victor Henry, Kai Asakura, and Naoya Inoue. In that list you can include Hiromasa Ogikubo and Shintaro Ishiwatari.
Both Ogikubo and Ishiwatari were champions in their respective organizations previous to fighting in RIZIN. Ogikubo was the Shooto flyweight champion while Ishiwatari was the Pancrase bantamweight champion. You can argue that a clash between them would be a dream fight.
Going into this fight their RIZIN records were as follows Ogikubo was 1-1. Ishiwatari was 4-1. Both of their singular losses were to Kyoji Horiguchi.
Ogikubo was fresh off a split decision win (and FOTY) candidate against Yuki Motoya, while Ishiwatari submitted Ulka Sasaki in the second round.
When these two clashed in this number one contender fight, we got a technical back and forth. Not the bland kind of technical fight either. Both men’s heart and determination to power through and beat the other resulted in a very close split decision.
Yusuke Yachi vs. Takanori Gomi
This is the shortest match on the list ending in the first round, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting.
Yusuke Yachi was brought into RIZIN and it was clear from the get-go, the Krazy Bee fighter was primed to be one of their main guys at lightweight. Up until this fight, he was on a three-fight win streak finishing all his fights.
Takanori Gomi needs no introduction to MMA fans. He fought in PRIDE and UFC and has gained the adoration of fans due to his ability to take an absurd amount of punishment and just brush it off and deliver a beating. He is truly a legend.
What this fight symbolized was the old guard vs the new guard. For Yachi to be the true next Japanese lightweight ace, he has to get through the fighter who had that mantle first. This results in one of the most exciting fights to go only one round. Just watch and be amazed at the fighting spirit of these two.
Bob Sapp vs. Osunaarashi
The late, great film critic Pauline Kael once said “Movies are so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in them.” I think the same can be said about MMA. For every Frye/Takayama, we have an MVP/Daley, Ngannou/Lewis, or Romero/Adesanya. But can a fight be so bad it’s good?
Yes. And the answer is Bob Sapp vs. Osunaarashi.
Sapp is one of the strangest enigmas in MMA. He has so much charisma and raw strength and looks like he could rip you in half if he wanted to. Instead of embarking on a serious career in fights, he decided to take literal dives in his fights. Up until this fight, he was on a 14 fight losing streak! Some losses not even a minute into the first round.
Osunaarashi is an Egyptian sumo wrestler whose backstory is… interesting. He was a highly ranked sumo who was blackballed from the sport due to driving without a license. Actually, even if he had a license it wouldn’t have mattered because apparently sumo drivers are not allowed to drive in the first place. This was his first MMA fight and he enlisted the help of Josh Barnett to prepare.
The result is a wild, hilarious adventure in freakshow openweight MMA. You have horrible boxing on display, heavy gasps of air, members of the RIZIN roster being shown on camera laughing at the lack of athleticism, and the audience trying to rally behind Sapp in the hopes he snaps his losing streak. There is so much going on in this fight to list. Please take time to watch this fight!
For more fights and English subtitled fighter documentaries, go to RIZIN’s Youtube channel here.
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