Rizin Fighting Federation

Rizin Announces Atomweight GP for Rizin 37

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Rizin is getting back into the Grand Prix game this year. At a press conference yesterday in Japan, additional fights were announced for the July 31 Rizin 37 show at the Saitama Super Arena. Four of the fights announced were opening matches in the atomweight GP.

This will be the second atomweight GP under Rizin. The first happened in 2017 and was won by Kanna Asakura. Fighters from Japan and around the world will be participating. The first-place winner will receive 7 million yen ($51,000+) and second place will receive 3 million yen ($22,000+). The semi-finals will be in September and the finals will be on New Year’s Eve.

The following fights have been announced for the GP:

Seika Izawa vs Laura Fontoura

It’s the battle of the undefeated champions. Rizin atomweight champion Seika Izawa (6-0), 24, will take on PAWFC strawweight champion Laura Fontoura (7-0), 21. To quote Mike Goldberg they are both “virtually identical.” Izawa fights out of Japan while Fontoura fights out of Brazil.

Izawa beat Ayaka Hamasaki at Rizin 35 this year to capture the atomweight championship. After winning, she implored Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakaikbara to make a GP for the division in her post-fight speech

“I’m grateful to be participating in such a fun tournament,” Izawa said. “I will win this all and raise the popularity of woman’s MMA in Japan.”

Kanna Asakura vs Si Woo Park

Kanna Asakura (19-6) is a Rizin mainstay and won the inaugural atomweight GP in 2017 by defeating Rena. Her career since then has had ups and downs with wins over Alesha Zappitella and another win over Rena.

“This will be my second time participating in the GP. Despite the result of the last GP, I haven’t been performing great recently,” Asakura said. “I will do my best to beat Park, and aim for the second win of the GP.”

Si Woo Park (7-4) is a fighter from South Korea who now lives in Japan. Training out of the famed Krazy Bee camp, she has mostly fought in Deep and Deep Jewels. She made her Rizin debut last year at Rizin 33 with a controversial decision win over Rena.

Rena vs Anastasia Svetkivska

Rena (12-4) is a former shootboxing champion and one of the most popular female fighters on the roster. She was a finalist in the first GP and is looking to become the winner in this one. “The original plan was an eight-woman domestic tournament but I was not interested,” she said. “But now that the borders are opening up I decided to participate.”

Anastasia Svetkivska (2-0) is the least experienced fighter in the tournament. Fighting out of Ukraine, her sole two pro fights are first-round finishes. She was a winner of the 2019 IMMAF World Championships.

Ayaka Hamasaki vs Jessica Aguilar

This is a battle of women’s MMA legends.

Ayaka Hamasaki (23-5) is a two-time Rizin atomweight champion and was the top atomweight in the world for many years. She is 9-3 in the promotion and is looking to snap a two-fight losing streak. Interestingly, her training partner and friend Rena is also competing.

Jessica Aguilar (20-9) is a pioneer in women’s MMA. An unsung hero who has been fighting since 2006 she has wins over Carla Esparza, Emi Fujino, and Megumi Fuji. A little connection between the two veterans is that Fuji is Hamasaki’s coach. This will also be Aguilar’s first fight since 2020.

Aguilar and Hamasaki were supposed to fight back in March 2011 but the fight was postponed due to the Tohoku earthquake.

“I was supposed to fight Jessica 11 years ago but didn’t happen because of the Earthquake,” Hamasaki said. “I feel destiny that this fight is happening after all of these years.”

Announced Fights:

Naoki Inoue vs Kenta Takizawa
Hideo Tokoro vs Makoto Shinryu
Vugar Karamov vs Sora Yamamoto
Shinobu Ota vs Yuki Motoya
Ulka Sasaki vs Yoshiki Nakahara
Tsuyoshi Sudario vs Hideki “Shrek” Sekine
Kota Miura vs Felipe Masoni
Yushi vs Haruki
Marcos Yoshio Souza vs Daichi Abe
Seika Izawa vs Laura Fontoura (Rizin AW GP)
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Jessica Aguilar (Rizin AW GP)
Kanna Asakura vs Si Woo Park (Rizin AW GP)
Rena vs Anastasia Svetkivska (Rizin AW GP)

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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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