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Rina Panchan set to make historic RIZIN debut at RIZIN 30

Top female kickboxing sensation Rina “Panchan” Okamoto is set to become one half of history at RIZIN 30.

RIZIN held a press conference on Tuesday night to announce an additional five bouts for their upcoming RIZIN 30 card on Sept. 19. Out of the five, three are 145-pound featherweight bouts — most notably is the affair between former UFC flyweight Ulka Sasaki and Yoshinori Horie. However, in addition to the four MMA bouts will be the first-ever women’s kickboxing match to take place in RIZIN.

The undefeated 11-0 superstar in Panchan will take on Momoka Mandokoro (20-17-3).

“I am honored to be participating in the first women’s kickboxing bout in RIZIN,” Panchan said at the presser. “I want to show that women’s kickboxing is also appealing and exciting. I want to be the sole fighter shining in this fight and want to keep women’s kickboxing a staple in the RIZIN ring.”

Rina Panchan: A Kickboxing torchbearer with a superhero mentality

Panchan currently holds titles in both the Rebels and Knockout kickboxing promotions. A November 2020 victory over Mari saw the 5-foot-5 striker overcome adversity as she tore a ligament in her hand mid-fight. She was sidelined until May 2021 where she came back with a vengeance and knocked out Mirey in their rematch. Panchan followed it up with a quick turnaround by defeating Hitomi Nagai by majority decision this past month.

Mandokoro is 0-3-1 in her last four fights with her last win coming against Moe Okura in October 2020.

“This is a big opportunity for me and all of the attention is on my opponent,” Mandokoro said. “I think this can be a career-changing win for me so I am very motivated. I also want to show the appeal of women’s kickboxing and I am honored to be the one to be assigned for this task.”

Sasaki’s UFC run lasted from 2014 to 2018 when competing at 125-pounds where he went 4-5 (23-8-2 overall) with all of his wins ending via rear-naked choke. His departure from the promotion came just in time for him to jump to RIZIN for the 2018 New Year’s Eve show where he debuted against future bantamweight champion Manel Kape. Sasaki wound up picking up the win via unanimous decision before dropping his following two. To close out 2020, he came back from a broken jaw bulkier than ever to rebound with another unanimous judges’ call against Kenta Takizawa.

“I apologize for not being able to be at the press conference today,” Sasaki said. “I got beat by the vaccine but I will beat my opponent on fight day. This will be my first fight at featherweight [in RIZIN] and I am facing a fantastic opponent which makes me very motivated. I’ve gone 2-2 since joining the RIZIN roster and both of my wins have come by decision so I plan to finish this one with style. Horie is a great fighter but I think this fight is a battle between myself, and with the fans. Every single message and cheers count for us fighters so please fight with me on fight day. I will see you on September 19.”

Horie, on the other hand, made an impressive RIZIN debut earlier this year at RIZIN 27. Taking on Tetsuya Seki, Horie got stronger as the fight progressed and secured a third-round TKO to advance his record to 10-3.

“Ulka has fought in the UFC longer than me and is a great fighter but I’m just much better than him,” Horie stated. “I plan to hit him over and over until he falls down and hit him more.”

Along with the other featherweight bouts featuring Shinobu Ota vs. Yuta Kubo and Chihiro Suzuki vs. Shoji Maruyama, an exciting lightweight clash between Koji Takeda and Yusuke Yachi was also announced.

The current RIZIN 30 lineup can be seen below.

  • Super atomweight – 108lbs, non-title: (C)Ayaka Hamasaki vs. (Pancrase C)Emi Fujino
  • Kickboxing: Catchweight – 102lbs: Rina Panchan vs. Momoka Mandokoro
  • Lightweight – 155lbs: Koji Takeda vs. Yusuke Yachi
  • Featherweight – 145lbs: Ulka Sasaki vs. Yoshinori Horie
  • Bantamweight – 135lbs, Grand Prix Quarter-Final: Naoki Inoue vs. Kintaro
  • Bantamweight, Grand Prix Quarter-Final: Kai Asakura vs. Alan Yamaniha
  • Bantamweight, Grand Prix Quarter-Final: Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Takafumi Otsuka
  • Bantamweight, Grand Prix Quarter-Final: Yuki Motoya vs. Kenta Takizawa
  • Featherweight: Chihiro Suzuki vs. Shoji Maruyama
  • Featherweight: Shinobu Ota vs. Yuta Kubo

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