RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara has been dropping big announcements lately. He held another press conference and announced updates regarding upcoming events. The Rizin 28 Asakura vs Koike press conference featured the titular combatants. Mikuru Asakura and Kleber Koike, who were decided to participate in the Tokyo Dome event, took the stage.
“RIZIN has been focused on putting on intriguing fights during the covid pandemic. Things are moving forward for May 30th in Osaka, June 13th in Tokyo Dome. Worst case-scenario, we will hold the event without spectators. More RIZIN 28 announcements will be made today, and tickets have already gone on sale. If we decide to do non-spectators, refunds will be available.” said Sakakibara during the press conference.
After rumors of a possible bout for reigning Bantamweight Champion Kyoji Horiguchi on the upcoming Tokyo Dome card, Sakakibara threw cold water on things. He stated, “MMA will be making a return to the Tokyo Dome after 18 years so we won’t hold back on our cards. Horiguchi won’t be able to make it so it’s natural to bring in our best cards that we can put together at the moment.”
Rizin 28 Asakura vs Koike
RIZIN stalwart Mikuru Asakura (14-2, 1NC) takes on fellow top contender Kleber Koike (27-5-1) in an intriguing bout between elites of the division. Asakura has enjoyed an 8-1 stretch under Japan’s premier banner, with his sole defeat coming in a close and exciting match to crown the inaugural featherweight champion against Yutaka Saito back at RIZIN 25 last November. He quickly rebounded with a first round TKO victory against Satoshi Yamasu just a month later, handing him his first stoppage loss in almost half a decade.
Kleber Koike has scored consecutive submission wins, showcasing his vaunted ground game while also impressing on the feet. Wins over Kyle Aguon and Kazumasa Majima (who brought a 12-1 streak into the bout, only losing to the champion Saito since 2014) have propelled the former KSW Champion to the top of the divisional heap.
“This will be my 3rd fight in RIZIN. I haven’t fought at my 100% yet, maybe only 50% until now. So I’m eager to show my all in this next fight. There’s pressure but I’ll handle it. Mikuru is a top fighter in Japan but I will do my best to beat him. I’ve sparred with Asakura a long time ago but that was a very long time.”
“We’ve both changed styles since. Practice and an actual fight are two different things. So I’m not sure what to say about when we practiced together. I’m not worried at all about his grappling. It won’t be a problem. 6 months of training won’t change your style. If it goes to the ground, he’s going to have a bad time. I’m not worried whatsoever. I will finish this fight with a submission, one opening is what it will take for me to finish this fight.”
“Kleber’s fought internationally and has a great finishing rate. He’s definitely a dangerous opponent for me. I want to show a different style. Want to show that I can grapple and hold my own against an opponent like Kleber. I want to knock out my opponent.”
Confirmed Bouts for RIZIN 28 – June 13th
Mikuru Asakura vs Kleber Koike – 66kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
Kai Asakura vs Shooto Watanabe – 61kg Mixed Martial Arts Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Takeshi Kasugai – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Naoki Inoue vs Shintaro Ishiwatari – 61kg Mixed Martial Arts Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Yuki Motoya vs Ryo Okada – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
RIZIN 28 streams live on SkyperfectTV and RIZIN LIVE PPV with Japanese commentary. English commentary stream goes via LiveNow.