Rizin Fighting Federation returned to the MMA fold with their annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza. It all emanated from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan featuring multiple title fights and several notable names on the JMMA scene. This is your Rizin 26 Recap.
In the main event, Kyoji Horiguchi captured the Rizin bantamweight championship and avenged his August 2019 knockout loss to Kai Asakura in the process.
Horiguchi was out of action for over a year from a serious injury and had a storybook return to the ring.
— Streetfight Banned-cho (@streetfitebncho) December 31, 2020
Kyoji Horiguchi once again lets everyone on the planet know of his pound for pound status and the future for the former dual bantamweight champ (Bellator and Rizin simultaneously) looks bright indeed.
That top of the marquee rematch was not the only championship bout on the card though.
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Miyuu Yamamoto was for the vacant super atomweight belt and the contest produced arguably one of the calendar year’s most impressive submission finishes.
Exhibit 7657 why I refuse to do year-end awards before the year ends https://t.co/6Kg6l7zSPm
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 31, 2020
Some familiar names bolstered the card including vaunted giant slayer/ Super Hluk champion Minowaman. As is his modus operandi, Minowa took on someone much bigger than him, this time in heavyweight leviathan Sudario.
Unlike in his PRIDE/ DREAM heyday though, Minowa did not emerge victorious over his gigantic adversary and ate an extra hammer fist for good measure after being felled by the fight-ending kick.
Takanori Gomi also returned to combative competition in a special rules contest. The Fireball Kid donned the big gloves in this standup exclusive that adhered to the three knockdown rule.
After a pretty inauspicious opening round, Gomi would turn up the pace and the two put on an interesting bout in the later frames.
Tenshin Nasukawa showcased his savvy kickboxing skills in the co-feature, veteran Hideo Tokoro emerged victorious in his 65th pro-MMA bout overall, and we even got a soccer kick finish to name but a few of the Rizin 26 highlights.
Full Rizin 26 event results
RFF Bantamweight Championship Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Kai Asakura. KO/TKO at 2:48 in Round 1
Tenshin Nasukawa defeats Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit (kickboxing). UNANIMOUS DECISION
Mikuru Asakura defeats Satoshi Yamasu. KO/ TKO at 4:20 in Round 1
Takanori Gomi defeats Koji Tanaka (custom rules bout). MAJORITY DECISION.
RFF Vacant Atomweight Championship Ayaka Hamasaki defeats Miyuu Yamamoto. SUBMISSION, LEG SCISSORS CHOKE at 1:42 in Round 1
Naoki Inoue defeats Yuki Motoya. SUBMISSION, REAR NAKED CHOKE at 3:00 in Round 1
Kleber Koike defeats Kyle Aguon. SUBMISSION, D’ARCE CHOKE at 4:22 in Round 1
Kyohei Hagiwara defeats Ren Hiramoto. KO/TKO, GROUND AND POUND at 1:29 in Round 2
Hideo Tokoro defeats Shinobu Ota. SUBMISSION, ARM BAR at 2:45 in Round 2
Yoshinari Nadaka defeats P. Phetjaroenvit (kickboxing). KO/TKO (3 KNOCK DOWN) at 2:20 in Round 1
Ulka Sasaki defeats Kenta Takizawa. UNANIMOUS DECISION
Kanna Asakura defeats Ai Shimizu. UNANIMOUS DECISION
Atsushi Saito defeats Hiroya Kawabe (custom rules bout). SUBMISSION, ARM BAR Round 2
Kazuma Kuramoto defeats Taiyo Nakahara. KO/TKO, SOCCER KICK at 2:12 in Round 1
Tsuyoshi Sudario defeats Ikuhisa Minowa. KO/TKO, LOW KICK at 3:19 in Round 1
Sakura Mori vs Eru Takebayashi. NO CONTEST, ARM BAR at 1:37 in Round 1
Rizin 26 Recap
Rizin 26 is available for replay viewing over the next seven days via LIVENow. What was your favorite moment from the NYE spectacular?
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.