On April 30th, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara held a press conference. In subsequent days, he announced updates about the RIZIN 29 kickboxing tournament. The international stream will be through LiveNow.
“RIZIN will continue to progress during the given conditions, under government protocols.” said Sakakibara at the start of the press conference. “A seats and S seats for RIZIN.29 have already sold out. 5,000 tickets are ready but we will continue to put on intriguing matches.”
Kouzi asked for a 1 day tournament a few days back. Sakakibara relayed that he understands where he’s coming from. RIZIN is more focused on MMA and he feels Kouzi’s frustration.
“RIZIN is responding to the fans’s voices. If the fans can continue to raise their voice that they want to see kickboxing we can do more. In order to do so, we have decided to meet Kouzi’s request. Ever since Kouzi’s request, we have had several inquiries from fighters. I will bring in the participants later. This tournament will be sponsored by BODY MAKER. Tournament prize money will be determined later.”
The RIZIN 1-night kick tournament had its 4 participants announced via an envelope drawing. 4 envelopes are set. Only 1 envelope had the ticket to choose an opponent. The fighter who picks the winning envelope will pick his opponent, and the remaining matchup will also be determined.
Rizin 29 Kickboxing Tournament
Muay Thai legend Genji Umeno (47-12-3, 22 KOs) drew first, and picked the winning envelope, choosing Kouzi for the first round. The 32-year-old Battle of Muay Thai Lightweight Champion is 3-1 in his last 4. He is eying a revenge match in the final against fellow participant Taiju Shiratori. The pair first clashed in the RISE World Series 2019 final.
He is perhaps the most experienced participant. He was the former Rajadamnern 135 lbs champion, WPMF World Super Featherweight champion, WBC Muaythai World and International Super Featherweight champion. As well as the former M-1 Featherweight Champion.
Hometown star KOUZI (28-14-2, 10 KOs) is coming off an exciting scrap with Takanori Gomi in a special rules bout at RIZIN 26. He made his RIZIN debut against Tenshin Nasukawa at RIZIN.24 in September of last year. Kouzi is the 2017 ISKA World Lightweight Champion, 2013 HEAT Kick Lightweight Champion, and 2012 TRIBELATE Kick Super Featherweight Champion. He looks to impress in front of his home crowd in a star-studded tournament. Kouzi is 4-2 in his last 6 outings, only dropping decisions to Nasukawa and K-1 Champion, Takeru.
Rizin Fighting Federation
The middle of the three Takahashi brothers, Ryo Takahashi makes his RIZIN debut against RISE star and Tenshin Nasukawa stablemate Taiju Shiratori (20-7-1, 10 KOs) faces Takahashi, and carries a 4-0 record in RIZIN, beating the likes of Hiroto Yamaguchi, Taiga and Yoshiya Uzatsuyo.
The 2019 RISE Lightweight Champion captured the 2019 RISE World Series -61kg Tournament by defeating fellow participant Genji Umeno. Shockingly, he is riding a 2-fight skid after a 12-fight win streak, and looks to bounce back in spectacular fashion over other well-established names in the Japanese kickboxing scene.
Familiar faces return as Sakakibara also announced 2 additional kickboxing matches to the RIZIN.29 card in Osaka.
Seiki Ueyama vs Jyosei Izumi takes place at 56kg. Former SHOOT BOXING 55kg Champion Ueyama has a 2-1 record in RIZIN, debuting at RIZIN.16 where he scored 3 knockdowns enroute to a 1st round stoppage win over Kengo. He then earned a decision win over Taisei Umei at RIZIN.19 before dropping a decision to Rui Ebata at RIZIN.22 in August of last year. Izumi is coming off a split decision win over Ryota Naito at HEAT 48 just days ago.
Yuma Yamahata vs Kiyoto Takahashi rounds out the kickboxing matches, this one being at 63kg. Yamahata returns to the RIZIN ring after coming up short against Taiga at RIZIN.25 last November. Since then, he defended the DEEP Kick 63kg title in his last outing 3 weeks ago, a rematch with Kensaku Oishi, following their draw at RISE 146 in February.
Ryo Takahashi’s younger brother (and the youngest of the three Takahashi brothers), Kiyoto has the chance to capture a title of his own, as he will face Yamato Ashikaga on May 2nd for the vacant NKB 62kg title exactly 4 weeks before his bout with Yamahata to set up a champion vs champion bout.
Sakakibara touched on the rules for the tournament bouts, noting “Fights are 3 minutes and 3 rounds with no extra rounds. The fight will be determined within 3 rounds. RIZIN is focused on delivering what the people want to see. This tournament will be the test case to show the great appeal of kickboxing to the people.”
“Talk is fun, but I really hope these fighters can put on a great performance in the ring that will inspire the people and give hope to the people during these hard times. We have the Bantamweight tournament going on at the same time so I hope these guys can make the people love tournaments.”
Tensions rose as the kickboxers opined about the appeal of kickboxing in RIZIN. “I see many fans saying RIZIN is an MMA organization and there is no demand for kickboxing. But I want to change those people’s opinions with my performance.”said Takahashi.
Shiratori chimed in, saying, “I still hear anti kickboxing opinions from RIZIN fans. I really hope to shut them up with the 4 of us in Osaka.” Umeno added, “‘RIZIN equals MMA’ is the image that has been developed. But I think that we can still show them that kickboxing is fun to watch. I think all of these participants have what it takes to show the appeal of kickboxing.”
Kouzi pulled no punches, and went as far as to blame Sakakibara. “RIZIN MMA is good. I won’t deny it. But as a kickboxer I feel obligated to grow the sport I put everything into. I blame Sakakibara for flaking on the kickboxing part of combat sports. Sakakibara it’s your fault.”
Sakakibara didn’t back down, and hinted at expanding RIZIN’s presence in the kickboxing scene.
“I think this is the time to prove me wrong. Convince me with your performance. Maybe we can branch off and create a RIZIN Kickboxing event if you can create enough demand.”
Confirmed Bouts for Rizin 29
Kintaro vs Kuya Ito – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Takafumi Otsuka vs Shian – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Kazuma Kuramoto vs Alan Hiro Yamaniha – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Kenta Takizawa vs Kazunari Imanari – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Yusuke Yachi vs Yuki Kawana – 71kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
Rikuto Shirakawa vs Jin Aoi – 66kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
[4 man kickboxing tournament]
Kouzi vs Genji Umeno
Taiju Shiratori vs Ryo Takahashi
RIZIN 29 streams LIVE on SkyperfectTV, and RIZIN LIVE PPV with Japanese commentary. English commentary stream goes on LiveNow.
Doors are expected to open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM. RIZIN.29 on May 30th (Sun) at the Maruzen Intech Arena.