Rizin Fighting Federation’s latest offering went down at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The martial arts extravaganza broadcasted via Live Now on Thursday, December 30th. This is your Rizin 33 recap.
Rizin 33 recap
The RIZIN Grand Prix 2021 Bantamweight Tournament Championship bout with Hiromasa Ougikubo versus Kai Asakura showcased both warriors in their second fight during the same night as each vied for glory.
The tournament title is up for grabs with both looking to line themselves up well. With a win here, they will lock themselves up a shot at lineal Rizin bantamweight world champion Kyoji Horiguchi in the future.
Ougikubo crowded Asakura with a pressure-heavy grinding style often using chipping punches in folkstyle clinches. Asakura looking to work the kicks as a range tool and keep moving at distance.
The feints, wrestling, level changing, and calculated forward entries are paying off hugely for Hiromasa Ougikubo. The urgency was there for Asakura in the final frame. But it was ultimately not enough as Ougikubo would capture the tournament title with a unanimous decision win in the finals.
Roberto de Souza versus Yusuke Yachi was a compelling RFF lightweight title bout with the submission magician defending his crown against a game Yachi. He showcased a lot of positional awareness and fended off a myriad of submissions from the uber-talented de Souza.
Alas, Souza would eventually lock in an armbar off of a slick sweep. To cement himself even more so as Rizin FF’s lightweight king as he now has a successful defense under his belt.
Asakura vs Saito II and Nasukawa vs Gomi
Mikuru Asakura and Yutaka Saito threw down in a consequential rematch. Asakura seemed to rock Saito noticeably in the second stanza as wrestling was utilized to keep himself in the fight.
There was also a moment early in the third and final round where Saito seemed close to being finished by an impassioned Asakura. Alas, both men would battle it out over the distance.
Controversy abounded in the first fight from the decision verdict. Asakura’s UD win here evened up the series with Saito.
Tenshin Nasukawa took on Takanori Gomi in a Custom Rules contest where Gomi steadily looked to bait in his opponent for power shots while Nasukawa showcased a speedy, volume-heavy approach.
The PRIDE icon tested skills with the Rizin mega star Nasukawa in what was purportedly his final Rizin FF effort. This as Tenshin looks to soon transition full time to professional boxing.
The size difference is obvious between the longtime lightweight and the flyweight-sized pugilist in Gomi versus Nasukawa. The boxing-centric affair went for two, three-minute rounds which ended in a time limit draw.
This short notice, generational crossover bout was one of the more fun, and light-hearted in some ways, contests amid the Rizin 33 recap.
Rena and Hamasaki fall in upset losses
Si Woo Park versus Rena Kubota was intriguing for many reasons with former multi-time Rena opponent Miyuu Yamamoto cornering Park.
Park was mixing it up well between the kickboxing and wrestling with takedowns and notable striking combinations abounding. Encapsulated by a sequence in the second stanza where Park connected with a soccer kick as Rena got up from a takedown Park previously secured.
The prolific Shoot Boxer/ major Rizin MMA star had her moments. But Park was slightly outpacing her and Rena would lose via unanimous decision.
Seika Izawa versus Ayaka Hamasaki resulted in a stunning upset win to close out the calendar year. This non-title clash saw the Rizin FF super atomweight champion Hamasaki taste defeat to Izawa who climbed to 5-0 with the win.
The first frame saw multiple shifts in the grappling momentum. But Izawa connecting on several strong up-kicks seemed to be a difference-maker.
The atomweight GOAT fell to the surging contender after a multitude of punches and elbows rained down from a mounted triangle position.
Koji Takeda vs Noah Bey was quite the intriguing stylistic clash with big suplexes for Takeda and nice GNP from mount.
Bey showcased his razor-sharp striking acumen when he briefly drops Koji Takeda in the second stanza. Doing so with a right hook but the storm was weathered.
The overall MMA fight IQ of Takeda came through as he notched the armbar victory later on in the second round.
Shrek, Youtuber, and YA-MAN
Hideki Sekine versus Shoma Shibisai was quite the inspirational heavyweight collision.
Big momentum swings took place in the first round with Shibisai leading the dance in the first half. Then Sekine having his moments in the later stages of the round with his grappling and GNP.
The man known as Shrek conquered Double S as Sekine rattled off several ground and pound punches from side control for the second-round TKO victory.
The young rising prospect was upset by the near fifty-year-old warrior who illustrated a dogged determination and grit on New Year’s Eve.
Kyohei Hagiwara versus Hiroaki Suzuki was a fun featherweight fight by all accounts and the former bested the latter via unanimous decision.
The Kickboxing bout between YA-MAN and Koji Tanaka saw the latter fighter largely on the backfoot in the first frame. Close quarters, borderline head-to-head punch trading is the name of the game in his largely boxing-centric kickboxing bout.
YA-MAN connected steadily on notable strikes early. But the veteran savvy/ energy management of Tanaka coming through in the later stages of the fight.
YA-MAN secured the win via unanimous decision in a hugely entertaining affair. One that showcased some of the best aspects of the highly electrifying Japanese kickboxing circuit.
In a custom rules contest, Atsushi Saito aka Shibatar and Yuta Kubo engaged in quite the entertaining clash. Shibatar ran the ropes in his usual fashion and did the classic heel wrestler begging off gesture while kneeling down and ate a leg kick for it.
Kubo lands on some leg kicks but gets dropped to the canvas with a check hook from the Youtuber. Shibatar shortly thereafter followed that up with a flying armbar victory that sent those watching into a fervor.
Shinobu Ota climbed to 2-1 when he bested near fifty fight veteran Kazuma Sone. Ota secured a beautiful folkstyle throw and would threaten submissions on the mat thereafter.
Sone threw up an armbar but was slammed down to the canvas after being lifted up. A huge spinning backfist dropped Sone in the second stanza.
Ota’s follow-up top control, calculated ground and pound, as well as a barrage of soccer kicks and face stomps secured the stoppage win.
Rizin bantamweight action
Yuki Motoya garnered the unanimous decision victory over Yuto Hokamura aka Kintaro in their alternate Grand Prix bantamweight clash. This was mostly a grinding grappling affair with both looking to break the spirit of the other via wrestling prowess.
The third frame largely shifted to a standup affair. Kintaro got the better of the close quarters exchanges while Motoya utilized the leg kicks as a great range manager.
The second semi-final bout in the Rizin bantamweight tournament saw Hiromasa Ougikubo get the nod over Naoki Inoue on all three judges’ scorecards. Inoue’s leg kicks were the difference maker in round one and he even dropped Ougikubo briefly.
Ougikubo overcame being mounted and put in a triangle choke to gain top control a bit over halfway through round two.
Hiromasa Ougikubo rose to the occasion with unwavering pressure and dogged wrestling. This stifled the stylistic tools of Naoki Inoue on route to the former conquering the latter via UD.
In the first semi-final bout of the 2021 Rizin 135 pound Grand Prix, Kai Asakura bested Kenta Takizawa. Asakura was having some difficulties finding his range in the opening frame courtesy of Takizawa’s kicks and movement.
Both combatants picked up the pace in the second stanza with Asakura edging things out convincingly enough. The third and final frame was much of the same as Asakura got the unanimous decision to advance to the GP finals.
The opening bout of the card featured a pair of MMA debutants.
Kota Miura put it on Yushi with a myriad of submissions (guillotine, triangle, armbar). Yushi showed his mettle by working through these tight exchanges with blood intermittently leaking from his face.
In the end, Miura secured the soccer kick/follow-up punch finish as the referee waved things off shortly following that.
What was your favorite moment from the Rizin 33 recap?
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