RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, held a press conference and announced updates about upcoming events. RIZIN 29 Tokyo Dome event pushed back to June 13th, RIZIN 28 will take place as originally scheduled. The international stream will be through LiveNow.
“The Japanese government has declared The State of Emergency in 4 cities starting April 25th to May 9th which will significantly affect the May 23rd Tokyo Dome event. Therefore, we have decided to push back the event to June 13th (Sun)” said Sakakibara during the virtual announcement. “MMA will be making it’s return after 18 years, and we want to put in as many spectators as possible for such a historical moment. Right now we would only be able to put in 5,000 spectators, but we are hoping that by June 13th, we would be able to put in 50% capacity which will be about 25,000 people. Our production team is working hard to give you the best experience at the Tokyo Dome so I hope you all stay tuned.”
RIZIN 28 will take place on June 13th at the Tokyo Dome while RIZIN 29 will keep its original date on May 30th. “I know this may be confusing but since we have already started to sell tickets to both events, we will be sticking with these event numbers. Anybody who has already purchased tickets for RIZIN.28 and cannot attend the new date, we will happily make refunds.”
The RIZIN Bantamweight Japan GP is set with 8 fights for it’s opening round after the drawing that was held in March.
Sakakibara has sorted out the fights for Osaka and Tokyo. RIZIN 28 will see Kai Asakura vs Shooto Watanabe, Naoki Inoue vs Shintaro Ishiwatari, Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Takeshi Kasugai and Yuki Motoya vs Ryo Okada at the Tokyo Dome. Kintaro vs Kuya Ito, Takafumi Otsuka vs Shian, Kazuma Kuramoto vs Alan Hiro Yamaniha and Kenta Takizawa vs Kazunari Imanari will take place RIZIN 29 in Osaka Maruzen Intech Arena.
Sakakibara also announced 2 additional matches to the RIZIN 29 card in Osaka. RIZIN mainstay Yusuke Yachi (21-11) will be taking on current Shooto lightweight Champion Yuki Kawana (16-5-5). In the Featherweight division, 2 hard hitting strikers will clash when Rikuto Shirakawa (9-8-1) meets Jin Aoi (8-3-1).
Yusuke Yachi started off with a 5 fight winning streak with wins over Daron Cruickshank, Satoru Kitaoka and Takanori Gomi since joining the promotion, but has gone 1-5 in his past 6 fights. Yachi looks to bounce back in 2021 by overcoming the current Champion from his former promotion. Yuki Kawana started off his professional career in ZST and went undefeated in 16 fights. Although his run in PFL didn’t turn out as planned, the 30 year old came back to Japan and captured the famed Shooto lightweight crown. Kawana made his RIZIN debut in 2020 against Koji Takeda and lost by split decision.
Rikuto Shirakawa has spent majority of his professional career as a Bantamweight but has recently moved up to Featherweight since fighting in RIZIN and has shown success with the transition. The Osaka native is coming off of a stunning TKO victory against veteran and former ONE title holder Kotetsu Boku. Jin Aoi Has spent his entire career in Shooto and rode a 6 fight winning streak with a 90% finish rate. The hard hitting 24 year old resides in Osaka and looks to make a name for himself on a bigger stage.
Later in the press conference, former K-1 kickboxing staple Kouzi made an appearance and called for a 1 night kickboxing tournament with the finals being the main event for RIZIN 28 in Osaka. RIZIN PR Keiichi Sasahara accepted the idea and will be announcing details of the 1 night kickboxing tournament via release in the following days.
“This will be my first fight of the year. I have reset my approach to MMA and have made several changes in my training environment. I hope to be able to show a new Yachi this time. Let’s forget about my recent fight record for now, and let me make a statement. This year, I will beat all the domestic Champions one by one, starting with the current Champion from my old organization, Yuki Kawana from Shooto. I will see you soon Osaka, look out for the brand new Yachi!”
“I hope everybody out there is well and staying out of trouble. I am the manager of a hotpot restaurant Yuki Kawana. I am not Ronaldo Jacare Souza. I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to fight on May 30th, and my opponent is posterboy on a losing streak Yusuke Yachi. I thought fighting a poster boy would get me new followers and would help promote my restaurant, but after taking a look at his previous opponent’s social media account, the hopes are very low. Fighting a poster boy who can’t win fights has absolutely no merits for me, and such a low return in victory. So to make it worth my while, I suggest we do a winner takes all fight and if Yachi is scared of elbows to the face, I can take that out of the rules as well. Please advise.”
“I’m very excited to be fighting in my hometown. I’m not sure if the Featherweight GP will take place this year but my name hasn’t even been brought up yet. My opponent is a young prospect but my plan is to clean up the entire Featherweight division so this is just my first step. I will show my progress by beating this opponent and make sure my name will be brought up as a candidate in the Featherweight GP. Overall this fight is in Osaka, and I plan to do what the Osaka people want to see. A fun fight with a dynamic knockout.”
“It’s been a while since my last fight, I have been working hard with my team and I know I have gotten stronger. I am excited to show everybody my progress. I’ve trained with Shirakawa a few times, and he’s an aggressive fighter with lots of momentum but I plan to dominate him and finish him. I know that times are tough for all of us so I will do my best to inspire the fans and bring a smile to their faces. Look out for me.”
“I know that I’m the big name in Osaka. And Sakakibara told me that I could headline the Osaka event but I would like to decline his offer. I haven’t won a single fight since joining RIZIN and I don’t want to be handed that main event spot. I want to earn it. So I would like to suggest a 1 night 4 man tournament with the finals being the main event. There are tons of haters out there talking smack about me. Enter the tournament and I’ll fight you. Let’s take care of business, I don’t care who enters the tournament. Let’s get this going!”
RIZIN 29 – May 30th
Kintaro vs Kuya Ito – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Takafumi Otsuka vs Shian – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Kazuma Kuramoto vs Alan Hiro Yamaniha – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Kenta Takizawa vs Kazunari Imanari – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Yusuke Yachi vs Yuki Kawana – 71kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
Rikuto Shirakawa vs Jin Aoi – 66kg MMA Rules (Elbows allowed)
[4 man kickboxing tournament]
Kouzi / TBD / TBD / TBD
RIZIN 28 – June 13th
Kai Asakura vs Shooto Watanabe – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Takeshi Kasugai – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Naoki Inoue vs Shintaro Ishiwatari – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
Yuki Motoya vs Ryo Okada – 61kg MMA Rules (RIZIN Bantamweight GP opening round)
RIZIN 29 and RIZIN 28 will be Streamed LIVE on SkyperfectTV, and RIZIN LIVE PPV with Japanese commentary. English commentary stream is provided by LiveNow.
Doors are expected to open at 1:00PM with Opening Ceremony at 3:00PM for both events. RIZIN.29 on May 30th (Sun) at the Maruzen Intech Arena and RIZIN.28 on June 13th (Sun) at the Tokyo Dome.