Today RIZIN FF held yet another press conference. Promotion’s CEO, Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated that the RIZIN 33 fight card is not completed, and there will be more fights announced as we’re getting closer to New Year’s Eve.
At today’s presser, there was only one kickboxing bout announced, Krush and K-1 veteran Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka will square off against RISE competitor, YA – MAN.
Tanaka debuted in RIZIN at the RIZIN 24 event in a match against one of the promotion and kickboxing top stars, Tenshin Nasukawa, and lost by unanimous decision. At RIZIN 25 he fought Takanori Gomi in a catchweight special rules match with a 10 kg weight difference between them. The rules of the match made kicking and grappling forbidden. This time Kouzi lost by majority decision. He wanted to switch his focus back to kickboxing, that’s why he gave an idea of four-man tournament, which was accepted by promotion executives. In the tournament semifinal, he fought Genji Umeno but the bout ended due to an accidental head clash, and because his opponent wasn’t able to continue Tanaka advanced to the final. At RIZIN 29 he lost by unanimous decision to Taiju Shiratori. He bounced back at RIZIN 32 by defeating Kazuma Sone by another unanimous decision.
This will be RIZIN debut for YA – MAN. The Japanese kickboxer is a RISE promotion mainstay, where he has 8 – 3 record. He fought outside the promotion once and beat Ryota Saito by anonymous decision, adding one more victory to his overall record. He’s on a three-fight winning streak and has won six out of seven fights.
But the main reason that fans and media representatives were interested in today’s press conference was to find out if there will be an announcement about Tenshin’s last fight in RIZIN. Fight fans around the world are still hoping to see a dream match between Nasukawa and K-1 superstar, Takeru. Sakakibara said that he’s fully aware of fans’ expectations, but as of today, he will share no comment on the topic.
The time to finalize this bout is running out, as Tenshin has decided to retire from the Kickboxing competition and switch to Boxing in 2022, leaving a small window of opportunity for everyone involved, which means RIZIN, RISE, and K-1. What’s more, Nasukawa himself stated that he would be glad to have a rematch bout against Rodtang Jitmuangnon as his last Kickboxing fight, leaving Takeru as a second choice.
featured image courtesy of Rizin Twitter.