Rizin 35

Photo via @Rizin_PR on Twitter

Rizin 35 bout announcements ft Spike Carlyle and Kanna Asakura

Rizin 35 is set with additional bouts. International fighters return to Rizin, as Vugar Karamov faces Pancrase Interim Champion Taichi Nakajima. Also, unbeaten Rihards Bigis takes on Shoma Shibisai, and Spike Carlyle squares off against former DEEP Champion Koji Takeda. 

On March 22nd, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara held a press conference and provided these updates for this martial arts extravaganza.

Rizin 35

Takahiro Ashida (24-11-2, 1-1 RIZIN FF) vs Kyle Aguon (13-10, 0-2 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA 

The former DEEP Featherweight Champion Ashida holds 13 stoppage wins. Ashida made his Rizin debut at Rizin 24 against surging contender Kyohei Hagiwara. A bout where he won via 1st round submission. But was defeated by long-time veteran Masanori Kanehara at Rizin 31 last October. He is 3-1 in his last 4 bouts. This since losing his title to Satoshi ‘Dominator’ Yamasu at DEEP 86 Impact in October 2018.

Kyle Aguon has already faced some of the division’s toughest competition in just 2 bouts. Losing against Vugar Karamov at Rizin 21 and Kleber Koike at Rizin 26. Just before his Rizin debut, he fought to a split decision loss in a title fight for the Pancrase Featherweight strap against Isao Kobayashi at Pancrase 309 in October 2019. He looks to snap a 3-fight skid, and having only lost to the division’s elite, a win at Rizin 35 would certainly keep him on the books for another top contender fight. 

Vugar Karamov (15-4, 1-1 RIZIN FF) vs Taichi Nakajima (15-11-1, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA 

Tofiq Musayev’s stablemate Karamov made his promotional debut at Rizin 21 where he defeated Kyle Aguon by only the 2nd decision victory in his career, and had to wait nearly 16 months due to the pandemic before his next bout in Rizin. A true well-rounded finisher, he has won 6 bouts by KO/TKO and 6 bouts by submission. He lost a split decision to then-champion, Yutaka Saito, which was a closely contested bout that saw the referee give Karamov a yellow card due to persistent infringements and fouls.

Although it was a non-title bout, the competitiveness elevated the Azerbaijani fighter’s profile in the division. With just one loss in the last 8 years and an 11-1 record in that time, Karamov remains a top contender in Rizin’s ever-growing featherweight division. Taichi Nakajima is the reigning Pancrase Interim Bantamweight Champion, winning the title just 4 months ago, and had been coming off a decision loss for the Pancrase Featherweight Championship against Isao Kobayashi in May of last year.

Currently on a 3-1 stretch in his last 4 bouts, the 33-year-old has scored impressive victories over current UFC top-10 ranked featherweight Dan Ige, and current Rizin contender Yoshinori Horie.

Shoma Shibisai (7-3, 2-2 RIZIN FF) vs Rihards Bigis (9-0, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 120kg MMA 

Coming into his 5th bout in Rizin, Shibisai’s career has been action-packed. After making his debut in 2012, he took a 3-year hiatus before storming the JMMA heavyweight gates. Shibisai’s first Rizin victory came at Rizin 19, where he tapped Chang Hee Kim with a kimura in just 69 seconds. Ahead of his bout with Tsuyoshi Sudario, Shibisai carried an astounding career average victory time of 57 seconds; his 3rd round submission victory over Sudario pushed it to 2:29.

After a shock defeat at the hands of Hideki ‘Shrek’ Sekine on the New Year’s Eve show, Shibisai looks to get back to winning ways. Bigis is the former FREON Heavyweight Champion – the top promotion in his native Latvia. He carries a perfect 9-0 record into his Rizin debut, with 7 stoppages and an average finish time of 1:15. Not only do both fighters score lightning fast stoppages; they have only gone the distance twice in a combined 19 professional bouts. The judges will not be needed for this Rizin 35 heavyweight tilt. 

Tsuyoshi Kosaka (29-21-2, 1-2 RIZIN FF) vs Mikio Ueda (0-0, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 120kg MMA 

‘TK’ will be stepping into the Rizin ring for the 4th time, having competed in the promotion’s first-ever bout on December 29th, 2015. On that night, he defeated James Thompson by a 2nd round TKO. He then faced Baruto in the 2016 Openweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals, where he dropped a decision, and then returned for Rizin’s 2017 New Year show, facing Croatian legend Mirko Cro Cop. His last bout was in January 2020 at HEAT 46. Kosaka welcomes Mikio Ueda to the world of MMA.

Ueda is the 12th World Open Karate Championship winner, winning the tournament at 24 years of age back in 2019. He also participated in the 100-man kumite last year, with the doctor intervening after the 60th match. He announced his willingness to compete in MMA last September, and joined BRAVE gym the following month. 

Rizin FF

Koji Takeda (13-2, 3-2 RIZIN FF) vs Spike Carlyle (13-3, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 71kg MMA 

Former DEEP Lightweight Champion Takeda makes his 6th appearance under Japan’s premier banner. With a hat trick of wins over newly-promoted DEEP Lightweight champion Juri Ohara and a win over fellow domestic champion in Pancrase’s Takasuke Kume at Rizin 27, the 26-year-old is firmly at the top of the division. He scored his first finish in Rizin at Rizin 33 against Beynoah with a 2nd round armbar. Now, he faces his 2nd international opponent in Spike Carlyle.

‘The Alpha Ginger’ is riding a 4-fight win streak, including an incredible come-from-behind finish with just 2 minutes against Dan Moret at Bellator 272 last December in his promotional debut. He enjoyed a 3-fight stint in the UFC, scoring an 85-second stoppage in his debut. With 12 stoppages (6 by KO/TKO, 6 by submission) in 13 wins, and never being stopped himself, he is an exciting addition to Rizin’s lightweight division. This will be a true clash of styles in Rizin’s biggest event so far this year. 

Kanna Asakura (18-6, 9-5 RIZIN FF) vs SARAMI (16-12, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 49kg MMA 

2017 Super Atomweight Grand Prix Champion Kanna Asakura has experienced ups and downs in her Rizin career. From losing her debut, to firing off 6-straight wins (where she scored an upset win over RENA in the Grand Prix finals), to 2 failed title challenges against Ayaka Hamasaki, the 24-year-old has earned a wealth of experience in her young career. She has faced the old guard, and served as a gatekeeper against the next generation. She now faces the Shooto Atomweight Champion Satomi Takano, aka ‘SARAMI’.

The 31-year-old captured the title in her last bout against Mina Kurobe nearly 5 months ago. She is 5-1 in her last 6 bouts. Previously challenging for the DEEP Jewels Featherweight (105lbs) and DEEP Jewels Atomweight (104lbs) titles. This Rizin 35 contest has a lot of intriguing facets to it.

Yuki Motoya (29-10 1NC, 6-5 1NC RIZIN FF) vs Alan ‘Hiro’ Yamaniha (19-9-4, 2-1 RIZIN FF) 61kg MMA

Two-weight DEEP Champion Yuki Motoya had a busy 2021. He went 3-1 and went to the Grand Prix 2nd round, along with earning an alternate bout on New Year’s Eve at Rizin 33, defeating Kintaro via unanimous decision. He also defeated eventual Grand Prix Champion Hiromasa Ougikubo’s teammate and Shooto Champion Ryo Okada in the opening round in what was perhaps his best performance in the Rizin ring. Yamaniha is coming into his 4th Rizin bout and is 5-1 in his last 6 bouts.

He defeated GRACHAN Champion and surging bantamweight Motonobu Tezuka via 2nd round submission at Rizin 34 earlier this month, avenging a loss from earlier in his career in the process. The two veterans loom near the top end of the division. A Rizin 35 win for either of them will push them that much closer to the top.

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Dylan Bowker
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.