Rizin FF held a press conference today to announce the bantamweight Grand Prix semifinal matchups and a lightweight title fight, all of which will take place on December 31 at Saitama Super Arena.
Due to the draw, former champion Kai Asakura will square off against Kenta Takizawa. On his way to the semifinals, Asakura had finished Shooto Watanabe and won by unanimous decision over Alan Yamaniha. Takizawa had a decision win over Masakazu Imanari and a first-round TKO win over Yuki Motoya en route to this semifinal matchup
In the second semifinal, UFC veteran Naoki Inoue will fight the participant of TUF 24 alum Hiromasa Ougikubo. Inoue knocked out Shintaro Ishiwatari and won by decision over Yuto Hokamura in order to advance to this stage of the Grand Prix, while Ougikubo won by decision over both Takeshi Kasugai and Takafumi Otsuka.
Other announced matches are a clash of two quarterfinalists, Yuki Motoya and Yuto Hokamura, and a lightweight title defense by Roberto de Souza.
Unfortunately, not everything goes as smoothly as a mentioned tournament. Due to the ever-changing pandemic situation in the country, Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara has stated that NYE fight card might have little to no international matchups.
“We have had a rough year with COVID, and although we are grateful to have been able to make it with Japanese fighters, we were very much looking forward to bringing in international fighters for NYE. However, the Japanese government has just announced that Japan will be closing its borders for the next 30 days. We have still not been told that we are prohibited from bringing in international fighters, so at the moment I will say that we will continue to do our best to bring in international fighters, but if that doesn’t work out we will have some ideas to change up the current fight ideas we have.”
Featured Image courtesy of Rizin Fighting Federation