Asian MMA

Rizin Announces Title Match and Additional Fights for Rizin 31

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It seemed like Rizin 30 was just yesterday. Rizin 31 will now be soon upon us arriving faster than the speed of light. At a press conference Thursday, Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced additional fights for the upcoming show on October 24 show at the Pia Arena in Yokohama. Featherweight champion Yutaka Saito will make his first defense against Deep featherweight champion Juntaro Ushiku. Heavyweight and former sumo Tsuyoshi Sudario will return to take on Deep fighter Saint.

Yutaka Saito vs. Juntaro Ushiku

Rizin featherweight champion Yutaka Saito will make his first title defense against Deep featherweight champion Juntaro Ushiku. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Yutaka Saito (20-4-2) has had incredible success since debuting in Rizin. The former Shooto featherweight champion is 3-0 in the promotion and is only 1 of 3 people to have defeated Rizin’s most popular fighter, Mikuru Asakura. Saito’s last fight in Rizin was a non-title match against Vugar Karamov. Karamov committed many visible fouls against Saito and despite those occurrences, Saito won by split decision. “Despite my opponent, I demanded this fight to be a title defense, so it doesn’t matter who my opponent is,” Saito said. “I’m going to do what I do and that is to defend my belt in a convincing way.”

Juntaro Ushiku (19-8-1), 26, will be making his debut in the promotion. He is the Deep featherweight champion winning the title from Dominator Yamasu. Ushiku trains out of the top gym K-Clann and also has notable wins over Guy DeLumeau and Daisuke Nakamura. Ushiku is a surprise as the challenger as it looked like the promotion was going to book Kleber Koike in the spot.

“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to fight for the title on my promotional debut. I will put everything I worked for on the line to fully capitalize on this opportunity,” Ushiku said. “[Saito] is very clever and he can execute his game plan very well. I look forward in facing him.”

Tsuyoshi Sudario vs. Saint

Tsuyoshi Sudario will look to avenge his first loss this year as he takes on up-and-coming fighter Saint. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Tsuyoshi Sudario (3-1) makes his return to the promotion and it will be his third fight this year. He suffered his first loss at Rizin 28 when he was submitted by Shoma Shibassai. All three of his wins have been by TKO in the first round. Training under JMMA legend Enson Inoue, he has spent much of his time training in the US, mainly at the UFC Performance Center in Las Vegas. “This fight will be the beginning of my second year as a professional fighter,” Sudario said. “I will show you what I’ve learned in the US. My opponent is big and has a long reach but I will fight my fight regardless of my opponent.”

Not much is known about his opponent Saint (2-0). The New Jersey-born marine is currently stationed in Japan but will look to go to war in his biggest fight to date. “I’m excited to showcase my skills in RIZIN,” he said. “My opponent is just a big sack of nothing so I’m not worried. He’s an easy opponent for me because I’ve succeeded in several life-threatening missions and I don’t plan to fail this one.”

Announced Bouts:

Yutaka Saito (c) vs. Juntaro Ushiku for the Rizin featherweight championship
Kanna Asakura vs. Saori Oshima
Tsuyoshi Sudario vs Saint
Yusaku Nakamura vs. Yuki Ito
Daisuke Nakamura vs Suguru Nii
Masanori Kanehara vs. Takahiro Ashida
Daichi Abe vs Akira Okada
Rikuto Shirakawa vs Takuya Yamamoto
Seiichiro Ito vs Kunta Hashimoto

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Andrew has been a long time MMA and pro wrestling fan. When he isn't writing about MMA, he is usually training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, playing video games, or going bar hopping (he only drinks on days that end in "y"). He also co-hosts the RIZIN focused podcast "We are RIZIN" which you can listen to on Soundcloud & Stitcher.

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