The Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix now has specified first-round matchups. Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara and the tournament combatants appeared at a presser to unveil the news.
The only known name for the Grand Prix prior to this announcement was former Rizin FF 135 pound champion Kai Asakura. The remaining 15 combatants were spotlighted as were their respective prizefights.
The Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix first-round bouts read as follows:
Yuki Motoya vs. Ryo Okada
Naoki Inoue vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari
Kenta Takizawa vs. Imanari Masakazu
Kazuma Kuramoto vs. Alan Yamaniha
Kintaro vs. Kuya Ito
Shooto Watanabe vs. Kai Asakura
Shian vs. Takafumi Otsuka
Takeshi Kasugai vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo
Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix
A big name that is notably absent from the Grand Prix is the promotion’s bantamweight champion himself. Kyoji Horiguchi, who wrested the gold from Kai Asakura at Rizin 26, is not featured in this tournament field at all.
This omission of the reigning divisional kingpin may be indicative of a couple of different things.
First off, it seems to imply the winner of this Grand Prix will be positioned for a later lineal title bout.
Secondly, that perhaps Horiguchi will be busy for the foreseeable future. Perhaps looking to return to Bellator to recapture the bantamweight belt that he never lost in the cage.
The tournament kick-off spreads out over the next two Rizin events. Both set to go down in May. The contests split evenly across these events with each card getting four GP bouts apiece.
As of this writing, Rizin 28 goes May 23rd at the Tokyo Dome. The promotion aims to do Rizin 29 a week later. They take over Maruzen Intec Arena in Osaka on May 30th.
The second round goes in late September. The venue for these Quarter Finals is TBD because of the Tokyo Olympics. The Semi-Finals and Finals go down on Rizin’s NYE extravaganza.
There is also a myriad of cash prizes for the GP winner as well as the runner-up. Plus, a variety of tournament bonuses as outlined in a Rizin FF twitter thread.
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