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RIZIN President Nobuyuki Sakakibara discusses updated rules ahead of RIZIN 24

RIZIN 24 takes place this Sunday, Sept. 27. As per usual, it looks to be another solid night of action. However, one thing that will be different is a rule change.

As RIZIN prepares for its third event since returning from the worldwide shutdown, a change has been made pertaining to athletes who decide to wear wrestling shoes.

Historically the option of wearing shoes in MMA has been utilized by wrestlers dating back to the early days of the UFC and PRIDE FC. Over time, the usage of shoes in Western MMA was phased out but still stuck around in certain Eastern-based promotions.

In RIZIN, we’ve seen wrestlers wear shoes like we’re generally accustomed to seeing. But in the cases of fighters who offer up a more striking heavy approach, a handful has worn shoes to avoid slipping in the ring. Now, shoes will still be an option but thanks to the rule update, fighters who choose to wear them will have their offenses severely limited as they’ll no longer be allowed to throw kicks or knees of any kind.

“My take on the rules, any kind of rules… There should be minor rule changes every time in order to evolve as a sport,” RIZIN Founder and President Nobuyuki Sakakibara told MyMMANews on BROADENED HORIZIN, “If one thing doesn’t work out, let’s tweak it out a little bit, let’s try this, let’s try that. So I do think that minor changes should be made all the time. If it’s the elbows, shoes, soccer kicks, if there’s a flaw or someone feels like there’s a flaw, there should be changes. At least they should be tried.

“The rule changes on the shoes, it’s one of those things that we’re just going to try out. We’ll see what happens. And in terms of the reasoning behind it, and all that technical stuff, I do recommend that you talk to the officials. I don’t really have an opinion on the details and the reasoning behind it. But I do agree that minimum changes should be made on a regular basis to evolve anything.”

Upon RIZIN’s creation in 2015, eight years after the closing of PRIDE, the idea was for the PRIDE ruleset to be copy and pasted directly over. And for the most part, that is what happened. Meaning that the option for shoes remained despite the changing of times in modern MMA.

While shoes are only made to cover the feet, the exclusion of knee strikes came as a bit of an odd addition to this rule update. Thus leading to several fans questioning why not just ban shoes entirely?

When it comes to taking away knee strikes, the reason for that is to avoid any grey areas or exploitations of the shoes in the first place according to RIZIN officials. For example, when a fighter wearing shoes get their opponent into the clinch to throw a knee but coincidentally the foot wearing a shoe may also land and do damage to the opponent. Think of it as creating unnecessary controversies.

As for why not just ban the wearing of shoes entirely, it comes down to talent scouting. If an elite level amateur wrestler is going to start their MMA career and they have the option to wear shoes in their first fight, they will feel a lot more comfortable than if they were forced to fight without shoes. They’ll just be without the luxury of kicks, which for them at that stage shouldn’t be too big of a deal anyway. It’s a small factor, but still a factor none the less.

In the end, RIZIN President Nobuyuki Sakakibara is just looking to keep evolving and trying out new things in MMA. And aside from the update regarding shoes, the RIZIN 24 kickboxing main event pitting Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Koji Tanaka will feature some freshness to it as well.

“We have developed new RIZIN boxing gloves based off of fighters’ opinions and we’ve been consolidating all these opinions from each fighter,” Sakakibara revealed, “So this will be the first time that we will be using a new type of boxing glove for the Tenshin vs. Koji fight. Hopefully, we can make adjustments to our open finger [MMA] gloves as well. But incorporating the ideas and voices of fighters is something that will probably make the rules and the gear much better.”

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