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Rizin Landmark 5 Preview: 5 Fights to Look Forward To

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Rizin did not disappoint when it came to star power for Rizin Landmark 5. They booked some of their most popular fighters for their second show of the year. In the main event, Mikuru Asakura will take on former featherweight champion Juntaro Ushiku. In the co-main event, former K-1 kickboxer Ren Hiramoto will take on the returning Yutaka Saito. There is also the return of Rena, Kanna Asakura, Roque Martinez, and much more to look forward to.

RIZIN FF Returns in a Big Way with Landmark Volume 5

Kojia Takeda vs Luiz Gustavo

This should be dubbed “the people’s main event.” Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Koji Takeda (15-4) has become one of the unsung heroes of the lightweight division. A strong grappler with exceptional durability and stamina, his last fight was a loss to Gadzhi Rabadinov at Bellator vs Rizin. While losing, he made Rabadinov earn that win. He has victories over Johnny Case, Bey Noah, and Zach Zane. His specialty is an armbar variation that he can slap on from almost any position.

Luiz Gustavo (12-2) goes by the nickname “Killer” for good reason. That is what he looks like as soon as the bell rings. He throws strikes with rage, ill intent, and machine gun-like volume. All his wins have been finishes and not one of them has been in the third round.

The Fight

This fight will be determined if Takeda can withstand Gustavo’s strong and violent striking and if Gustavo can defend the grappling from Takeda. Gustavo has an incredible fight IQ and will make Takeda pay with a failed takedown with a soccer kick to the face. Takeda will need to utilize grappling while being careful of Gustavo’s standup.

Kazuma Kuramoto vs Shinobu Ota

This match will continue the rivalry between these two champion wrestlers. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

These two have Greco-Roman wrestling history with each other. They met in the finals of the 2014 Emperor’s Cup with Kuramoto coming out the winner by points.

Kazuma Kuramoto (9-3) has made the transition to MMA seamlessly from wrestling. He is fast and if he manages to grab you, expect a one-way trip to suplex city. He also is not afraid to brawl if the fight needs to get ugly in his favor. For this fight camp, he trained with Henry Cejudo at Fight Ready.

Shinobu Ota (2-2) is an Olympic wrestler who won the 2016 silver medal. He is still developing as an MMA fighter. His strongest asset is his wrestling. His striking has gotten better since his first fight along with his submission defense.

The Fight

Will these champion wrestlers wrestle? Or will they keep it standing? Kuramoto has been in some wars and he’s older so can he keep with Ota’s fast pace? Ota’s lack of experience will definitely be a factor in this fight and Kuramoto should look to exploit that.

Tsuyoshi Sudario vs Roque Martinez

Kaijus will clash in this heavyweight bout. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Tsuyoshi Sudario (6-2), under the tutelage of Enson Inoue, has become the most successful sumo fighter to transition to MMA. He has stated that from now on he only wants to fight foreign fighters. He has finished all of his wins including going 3-1 against foreign fighters. His striking is heavy and precise and can put you down with one shot.

Roque Martinez (16-8-2) before going to the UFC was one of Rizin’s most exciting foreign heavyweights. Even though he hits like a freight truck, he has underrated ground skills as evidenced by his scarf-hold win over Jerome Le Banner and a kimura submission win over current UFC fighter Da Un Jung.

The Fight

This fight should not go past the first. Both throw hard punches with knockout intent. It will be a matter of who strikes the hardest and in the right place. I don’t expect either fighter to grapple in this fight or go to a judge’s decision.

Kanna Asakura vs Mei Yamaguchi

This fight will feature two different generations of Japanese women’s fighter clashing. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Kanna Asakura (19-7) is maybe Rizin’s most popular female fighter. She is the first Super Atomweight Grand Prix winner having beaten Rena in the finals. She also has wins over current UFC fighter Maria Oliveria and Invicta’s Alesha Zappitella. Asakura’s strength is her grappling and she trains out of the famed Paraestra Chiba.

Mei Yamaguchi (21-14-1),also known as V.V. Mei, needs no introduction. One of the original pioneers of Japanese women’s MMA. She also has competed in ADCC, Shootboxing, Deep Jewels, and One. Known for her grappling and jiu-jitsu skills, expect her to hunt for the submission at almost every opportunity.

The Fight

Striking is neither of these fighters’ strong points. Both will likely control the fight with grappling and jiu-jitsu. As this fight is taking place in a cage, both will likely try to use the enclosure to aid and defend in grappling. Both are hard to finish and this will likely in a tough decision by both fighters.

Masanori Kanehara vs Sora Yamamoto

Another fight between two different generation of fighters. Photo courtesy of Rizin FF.

Masanori Kanehara (29-14-5) is a longtime veteran of the fight game. The 40-year-old has been fighting since 2003 and he has been undefeated at featherweight in Rizin. His career has taken him to the UFC, Pancrase, Deep, Sengoku, and many other places. He is a true mixed martial artist who mixes up strong grappling and striking.

The 22-year-old Sora Yamamoto (16-8-2) is an exciting new prospect from Hokkaido. A former Fighting Nexus champion, he has wins over veterans Kyle Aguon and Daisuke Nakamura. Like many current generation of fighters, he brings a particular set of skills to the fight that mixes in striking, grappling, and takedowns.

The Fight

These two fighters despite the age difference are incredibly high-level. It is hard to figure out who will dictate and control this fight. It feels pretty much even. Yamamoto has defeated veterans in Rizin but Kanehara has been so dominant at featherweight in the promotion. It should be a great showcase to see if the veteran continues on his dominant ways or if the prospect puts away another veteran in Rizin.

Rizin Landmark 5 will air live on Fite on Saturday, April 29 at 12 am PST/3 am EST. It is available as a singular purchase or bundle with Rizin 42.

Full Fight Card

Mikuru Asakura vs Juntaro Ushiku
Yutaka Saito vs Ren Hiramoto
Kazuma Kuramoto vs Shinobu Ota
Koji Takeda vs Luiz Gustavo
Kanna Asakura vs Mei Yamaguchi
Rena vs Claire Lopez
Tsuyoshi Sudario vs Roque Martinez
Masanori Kanehara vs Sora Yamamoto
Tatsuya “Yanbo” Saika vs Ali Abdulkhalikov

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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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