RIZIN 24 was an all over the place show. There were some great finishes alongside some pretty baffling decisions by the judges. But most of the fighters who came out on top looked especially great. All in all, with a card that had 11 fights (Three kickboxing and eight MMA), there were four finishes. Three of those were in the first round. However, some fighters didn’t finish, went the distance, and looked awesome in the end. Let’s take a look at some of the fighters who looked strong at RIZIN 24.
When you talk about sending someone to the Shadowrealm with a knockout, you need to just look at what Taishi Hiratsuka did to Yuki Kitawaga in their kickboxing match. All Hiratsuka needed to do was a left hook to Kitagawa’s temple and it sent him down to the canvas in the second round. The referee didn’t even need to count. He immediately waved it off. After the fight, Kitagawa said he was retiring from this loss.
RIZIN kickboxing is kind of an odd duck to fantasy book. Especially with Japan’s borders closed to foreigners, some talent exclusive to places like ONE or K-1, the talent pool for 130 pounds is hard to book. Looking at people from this card and others, even though he lost in his match, Hiratsuka taking on Koji would be an immediate step up in competition. There is also Heat lightweight champion Henry Cejas who made his RIZIN debut earlier this year at RIZIN 21 with a decision win over Seido. Both would be ample competition for Hiratsuka on a show in the future.
When has Teshin Nasukawa not looked good in a kickboxing match in RIZIN? To think the last time anyone looked competitive against him was when he had the super-fight against Kyoji Horiguchi. And that was Horiguchi’s first pro kickboxing match. While this fight went the distance, Nasukawa just took apart the Osakan native and former K-1 fighter, Koji. His striking accuracy and speed are just on another level.
No matter what Koji did, Tenshin was 10 steps ahead of him. We didn’t see a lot of the fancy stuff that Tenshin has done in previous fights. Instead, we saw Tenshin use basic moves such as jabs, crosses, and knees to the face and body. It looked like Koji may have just gotten only one punch to significantly connect on Tenshin all nine minutes of the fight.
Honestly, there are maybe only two names that would be the next best opponents for Tenshin. Muay Thai champion Rodtang, but he is exclusive to ONE. Takeru but he is fighting in November and is exclusive to K-1. Anybody else just has no realistic chance to put up a competitive fight against Tenshin. To quote manager Gedo from New Japan Pro Wrestling, “He’s just on a whole different level!”
It’s amazing to think at one time, it seemed that the 145 lbs. division was just mostly one fighter: Mikuru Asakura. RIZIN stepped up big time to expand the division by bringing notable names and competition this year. Bringing in fighters such as Shooto featherweight champion Yutaka Saito, Kyohei Hagiwara, and Takahiro Ashida who we will be talking about.
Ashida is the former DEEP featherweight champion. He had made his RIZIN debut by way of the Bellator Japan post-lims last year in a kickboxing match against top kickboxer Ren Hiramoto. Unsurprisingly Ashida lost by knockout.
RIZIN 24 he came in and looked like a house of fire submitting his opponent, Kyohei Hagiwara, with a beautifully modified omoplata in the first round.
In the post-fight press conference, he said he would be interested in facing “the Youtuber or the kickboxer.” Of course, he is referring to Mikuru Asakura and Ren Hiramoto respectively. Hiratmoto makes no sense. Even though he is now training in MMA, it would be a clear advantage for Ashida and an empty win for him. The Mikuru fight makes more sense down the line. Given Mikuru’s star status, it should be built up. Perhaps a number one contender’s match would make more sense, in this case against Yutaka Saito. The winner of that could face Mikuru for the inaugural featherweight championship.
Sudario Tsuyoshi vs. Dylan James was the one fight that stuck out the most. It was a heavyweight fight, a weight class we didn’t see at RIZIN 22 or 23. It was the pro debut of both fighters. It was between former sumo and a pro wrestler. This had the makings of a meme fight that fans would laugh at.
When the bell started, Sudario immediately ran towards James with a jumping teep kick that he was not expecting. After that, it was all Sudario. He controlled James and brought him down to the ground. As soon as that happened Sudario delivered brutal knees to the head of James that broke his nose. After the first round, James was bleeding badly from the nose and the doctor waved off the fight.
The sumo experiment had been done in PRIDE and RIZIN with not a lot of success. With Sudario, under the tutelage of Enson Inoue, he looks like he can be on his way to being the most successful former sumo to go into MMA. The problem is finding his next opponent. James was a pro wrestler. An easy first fight. There is some higher competition that Sudario will have to eventually fight. Hideki Sekine, Ryo Sakai, or Shoma Shibisai would all be major steps up given their experience and how many years they have put into the sport. If you wanted to put him in a high profile fight that he more than likely could win, RIZIN matchmakers might have to give Bob Sapp a call.