Earlier today, RIZIN announced an upcoming press conference featuring a live fighter match-up drawing for their upcoming 16-man Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix. The Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix already has one name situated for it as per Nobuyuki Sakakibara at Rizin 27.
Kai Asakura was revealed by the promotional figurehead as the first tournament participant during an in-ring promo. Asakura is a former RFF bantamweight champion who is looking to rebound from losing the gold in his last outing.
Kai Asakura tasted defeat to Kyoji Horiguchi in the main event of Rizin 26. This evened up the series between these warriors to one apiece.
Horiguchi is also an interesting fixture in all of this tournament talk. He won the 2017 bantamweight grand prix on Rizin’s NYE show that year and as mentioned, is also the reigning divisional titlist.
His involvement in this Rizin Grand Prix seems academic but that’s without the backdrop of Bellator MMA. Horiguchi lost his Bellator bantamweight belt via injury and now that he is back in competition, Bellator promoter Scott Coker indicated that the former 135-pound titlist “will probably be in the mix.”
Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix
Bantamweight is one of the premier divisions within Rizin Fighting Federation. Despite travel restrictions handcuffing the promotion a bit, they still have a deep domestic talent pool to pull from for this tournament.
Possible options for the 16-man Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix abound. Some localized considerations could include Hiroki Yamashita. He is coming off of a sub-thirty-second KO win over Kazuma Sone a few days ago at Rizin 27.
Also, Shooto Watanabe scored a come-from-behind second-round rear-naked choke victory over Takumi Tamaru. This win also came at Rizin 27 and could very well have punched Watanabe a ticket to this Grand Prix.
The 16-man Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix press conference and live fighter match-up drawing goes Friday, March 26th at 3:00 AM EST.
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.