It’s been over two months since Japanese combat sports promotion Rizin has put on a show.
The hiatus ends this weekend when Rizin 44 goes down live at the Saitama Super Arena. No titles will be defended on the show, but the event will feature a number of regular Rizin talent as well as international fighters looking to make a great second impression.
Let’s take a look at some of the fights that will be happening!
Kleber Koike vs Masanori Kanehara
Former Rizin and KSW featherweight champion Kleber Koike (31-6-1, 1 NC) has been a dominant force in Rizin, getting all of his wins by submission. An astounding 27 of his finishes have come by way of submission, and he is a fighter that you do not want to follow on the ground or leave your neck open. He also never lost the belt.
Instead, at Rizin 43, he missed weight as champion, beat challenger Chihiro Suzuki, and as a result, the title was vacated and deemed a no-contest.
Since moving back up to featherweight Masanori Kanehara (30-14-5) has looked like a beast. He is unbeaten in his weight class in the promotion and has finished all but one of his opponents. Funnily enough, even though he is more known for his grappling he finished those opponents by TKO.
His seemingly new and improved striking prowess has given him a new fighting life.
Kazumasa Majima vs Takeji Yokoyama
This fight will be a grappler’s delight, with a seasoned veteran taking on an up-and-comer.
Kazumasa Majima (15-4) had an unlucky start in Rizin. After going on a 12-fight winning streak, he cratered with a three-fight losing streak in Rizin. He got his first win this year submitting Takahiro Ashida. He has finished all of his wins but one by submission.
Takeji Yokoyama (5-0) is a jiu-jitsu black belt. He is the Fighting Nexus featherweight champion, defeating Rizin fighter Sora Yamamoto to take the belt. Like Majima, all of his wins but one have come by submission. While new to MMA, a win over a veteran like Majima will surely show he belongs in the sport.
Ryuya Fukuda vs Erson Yamamoto
Ryuya Fukuda (20-7-1) is maybe the best flyweight in Japan who has yet to showcase his skills internationally. He is a rough and gruff striker who also has sneaky-good grappling. He was the winner of this year’s Deep Grand Prix, defeating a total of four opponents.
Erson Yamamoto (4-5) is continuing the lineage of the legendary Yamamoto fighting family. The nephew of the late Kid Yamamoto and son of Miyuu, he got thrown to the wolves at the beginning of his career, losing to the likes of Kron Gracie, Hideo Tokoro, and Manel Kape. After an almost three-year layoff, he took on the formidable Yuki Ito this year and handily beat him
Erson appeared comfortable throughout the fight, and picked his spots while calculatingly mixing up striking and wrestling.
Takaki Soya vs Ramazan Temirov
Takaki Soya (12-5-1) might be the hardest puncher in Japan at 125 pounds. He has nine finishes by TKO/KO and they mostly come in the first round. He hits hard and fast.
Despite being one of Japan’s top flyweight prospects, his career has been stonewalled by health issues and injuries that have caused him to have long layoffs.
His opponent, Ramazan Temirov (16-2), is a top prospect from Uzbekistan. Like Soya, most of is wins come by knockout. Temirov is fast and explosive and he loves the first-round finish. Expect these two to throw bombs at one another.
Check out our previous coverage of Rizin 44 with fight announcements here.
Kleber Koike vs. Masanori Kanehara
Juntaro Ushiku vs. Kyohei Hagiwara
Spike Carlyle vs. Yoshinori Horie
Rukiya Anpo vs. Sho “Patrick” Usami (Kickboxing)
Yoshiki Nakahara vs. Rikuto Shirakawa
Kazumasa Majima vs. Takeji Yokoyama
Ryuya Fukuda vs. Erson Yamamoto
Taichi Nakajima vs. Ryo Okada
Shoma Shibisai vs. Janos Csukas
Takaki Soya vs. Ramazan Temirov