At Rizin 30 we saw two great finishes and some great career comebacks. Though almost all the fights ended in decisions there were still impressive performances from the fighters on the show. We will look at some of them and see where the fighters could go from here.
Rizin 30 Standout Performances
Shoji is called the “Samurai” but he might need to change it to the “Quick Finishing Samurai.” Having the record for fastest knockout in pro-MMA history at 3 seconds, he got a 20 second knockout in his fight against Chihiro Suzuki. In what was an eerie close prophecy to the type of fight they had, Suzuki during a press conference said “My ideal fight on Sunday would be Don Frye vs Takayama.”
The fight already had a different atmosphere due to the entrances of the fighters. Shoji came out brandishing a samurai sword and Suzuki came out looking like a video game character with a giant buster sword. As soon as the bell rang, it was on. Like Frye and Takayama, they just wailed on each other. It was left hook that sent Suzuki to the canvas and ending the fight.
This marks Shoji’s first win in the promotion and snaps his 2 fight losing streak. Shoji could’ve come, tried to play a safe fight, and win in a boring way. He took a risk against Suzuki who also is a kickboxer and came out on top. “At 24, I lose in DREAM, I lose to Kai [Asakura] too. I finally have a win the third time. I say don’t give up,” he said in a post-fight press conference.
Right now there is no announced alternate for the bantamweight GP. If anyone deserves to be waiting backstage ready to replace someone due to injury or other reasons, Shoji should be the man to get that opportunity.
Kenta Takizawa gained no fans with his performance in the opening round of the BW GP against Masakazu Imanari. He basically ran away and barely engaged his opponent, occasionally striking from a distance with his long reach. It made for a bizarrely entertaining fight but made the fans that night boo him. Going into the next round of the GP, the question was would he fight the same way against a more versatile grappler like Yuki Motoya?
In fact, the opposite happened where which helped end the fight. Motoya tried to strike as he previously did in his fight against Ryo Okada. But as we wrote in the preview for the Rizin 30 show, that would not be a wise move by Motoya. After a few strikes were traded between the two, Takizawa cracked Motoya. Motoya was getting swarmed and ran to the ropes. While Takizawa pummeled him, Motoya stepped one foot of the ring and the ref waved off the fight.
Takizawa’s Rizin tenure has not been memorable up to this fight. But this truly solidified him as a potential finalist of the GP. Even though he has fought and was beaten by Ougikubo, potentially getting matched up against Naoki Inoue or Kai Asakura is a lot more interesting now.
Yusuke Yachi doesn’t have an MMA nickname, but if he needs one the “Miracle Comeback Kid” would definitely suffice.
After some depressingly poor fight performances, he finally showed some fire and smart fight IQ against Koji Takeda.
While initially losing at the beginning (including getting almost submitted with a kimura), Yachi made an incredible comeback. He was able to block Takeda’s takedowns, keep him at bay with striking, and managed to make his eye get swollen shut with a punch. Yachi came away with a unanimous decision.
Yachi has changed camps, is wearing different fight gear, has new music, and has a different approach to fighting. He said he wanted to face all of the smaller promotion champions and with this win thinks he should be next for Rizin lightweight champion Roberto Satoshi d’Souza. As of now, he has defeated Shooto champion Yuki Kawana and Deep champion Takeda. But he neglected to challenge Takasuke Kume who is the Pancrase champion.
As of now, Yachi does not deserve to be next in line for d’Souza. His loss to d’Souza was one year ago and is still fresh in the mind. He needs one more fight. It should be against Kume. If he can defeat him, he would be able to say he defeated all the other smaller organization champions and that should definitely put him in title contention.
Yoshinori Horie has had a great run in Rizin. He knocked out his debut opponent Tetsuya Seki and dominated Ulka Sasaki at Rizin 30.
During the fight, Horie was able to outstrike and defend against Sasaki’s attempts at grappling with ease. He was able to get a unanimous decision win.
Horie is climbing up the Rizin ranks and with the featherweight division getting more fighters, should soon in line to fight for a title shot after Kleber Koike. An ideal fight for him next would be the winner of Mikuru Asakura vs. Kyohei Hagiwara at the first Rizin Landmark show. Yes, Rizin would probably want to fast-track Asakura for another title shot since he is the most popular fighter on the roster. Horie, if he continues his winning ways will snag a #1 contender’s spot.