If you’ve only started to watch MMA during the past few years (We ain’t judging) then you would never have been able to experience the marvel that was Pride Fighting championship. Pride was a charming organization; it took inspiration from that 80s ‘Karate Kid’ era. It also almost guaranteed that every fighter would be using synthetic chemicals to enhance their body, this allowed fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko & Antonio Nogueira to flourish and go full tank mode. It was a fun organization yet one of the finest traits was the ‘Grand Prix’. Pride held its 68th and final event in 2007. The death of Pride created a void that Rizin is hoping to fill. Rizin is holding two cards this New Years weekend.
Here I’ll cover over some of the best fights on the card and discuss why you can’t miss it.
Bantamweight Grand Prix:
Ian McCall vs. Manel Kape – Ian McCall was an ex UFC 125 pounder, he’s currently 2-1 in his past three fights and is coming off a loss to John Lineker; albeit Lineker missed weight. McCall is also notorious for pulling out of fights. He’s had to pull out of fights nine times during his UFC stint. McCall’s biggest fight was against ‘Mighty Mouse’ Jonhson where he lost a decision, yet it was a very tough fight to call as both fighters had their moments throughout the brawl. It’s hard to gauge how great a fighter McCall could have been if it wasn’t for the multiple injuries. He’s going to be taking on a mountainous challenge against Rodrigo ‘Prodigo’ Kape. Kape is currently riding a six-fight win streak; most recently coming off a devastating 71 second TKO over MMA fighter Erson Yamamoto. Kape is a man on a mission and looks charged to take on McCall who has been out of action for nearly two years. Perhaps the Portuguese Kape can shine through the dark cloud of doubt and be triumphant against the veteran McCall. Regardless of the outcome, a lot is at stake for both competitors. McCall is aiming to launch a new chapter in his MMA career and Kape hoping to create some momentum by sniping McCall away.
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Gabriel Oliveria – This is the second quarter-final match up. Kyoji ‘The Gooch’ Horiguchi is also an ex UFC 125 pounder. He’s only 27 years old and managed to amass a record of 20 wins and 2 losses. His only ‘proper’ loss was against UFC Kingpin Demetrious Johnson. That loss was over two years ago and Kyoji looks to have grown in leaps and bounds since being armbarred by the ‘Mighty Mouse’. He’s on a six-fight streak and seems to act like a fine wine maturing over the years and becoming an all-round better fighter. Kyoji has also risen in Rizin and has become Japans most prolific flagship fighter. He’ll be taking on Gabriel Oliviera; a journeyman from brazil, he is currently undefeated in MMA and obliterated Tatsuya Kawajiri in the second round of his last fight. He loves the body shots and looks to cause a catastrophic upset on Friday. Most expect Kyoji to run over Gabriel like a tank hitting a tortoise. Yet Oliviera posses the potential to land a nuclear knee which may upset the Japanese fans and oddsmakers.
Kevin Petshi VS. Shintaro Ishiwatari – Kevin ‘The Machine Gun’ Petshi is the tallest fighter in the grand prix. He stands 5 feet 9 inches tall and carries with him an elite ground game. He’ll look to take Ishiwatari to the ground and search for the sub. The ground isn’t Ishiwatari’s haven yet he’s no slouch Shintaro he will want to stand and bang it out on the feet, Shintaro is going into this fight as the current Pancrase 135-pound champion and has kept this belt since 2011. He’s a motivated competitor and one who would like to rematch Kyoji Horiguchi as ‘The gooch’ finished him back in 2013 in another organization. This fight looks to be a classic striker VS. grappler match up and hopefully it’ll excite the viewers.
Khalid Taha vs. Takafumi Otsuka – Taha is an all-round beast, in his 11-fight undefeated run he has 9 finishes. He’s a dangerous man to try and strike with and is explosive on the ground. He’s talented everywhere and looks set to impress on the big stage. He’s facing off against Takafumi Otsuka; who tends to grind out decisions and fights intelligently. He’s a sneaky fighter and one which is hard to catch on the feet, he went the distance with UFC Welterweight Rafael Dos Anjos. His smart cunning style may act as the kryptonite to Taha’s explosiveness. This fight’s a stylistic dream and Otsuka is also a man seeking revenge, he got TKOed by Shintaro Ishiwatari back in late 2014 (only loss by KO/TKO) and he’s looking to bounce back from the loss.
That’s the Bantamweight Grand Prix. There’s also tons more to go through, the comeback of Mirko Cro Cop, a women’s super atomweight grand prix (108lb), Takanori Gomi is fighting, Tenshin Nasukawa a kickboxing prodigy is scrapping it out in a kickboxing Grand Prix and of course Gabi Garcia is trying to murder a 53-year-old Granny.
In the kickboxing Grand Prix; One of Tokyo’s hottest prospects Tenshin Nasukawa is currently the favorite. He’s undefeated in MMA (4-0) & Kickboxing (20-0). Most importantly he’s only 19 years old and loves to put on an entertaining show. He also holds an amateur kickboxing record of (99-5-1 draw). His record speaks for itself; many expect Tenshin to breeze through the Grand Prix. He’ll be fighting Yuta Hamamoto who many people as just another tin can for Tenshin to crush, although this is fighting and anything can happen.
“King Rena” is also going to be taking on ex-UFC fighter in Cindy Dandois. King Reina is something of a Japanese Conor McGregor. She’s (7-0) in MMA and 3-0 in Rizin. This fight is certain to be a clanger as both fighters are willing to stand and trade on the feet and it’s worth noting that Dandois is coming off a TKO win over Kerry Hughes at Cage Warriors 89.
You can stream the fights over at fite.tv and for the cheapskates like myself There’s a $20 voucher for getting a friend to join.
*Dec 29, 1AM ET/Dec 28, 10PM PT
*Dec 31, 1AM ET/Dec 30, 10PM PT
And the complete fight order for both Rizin FF events.
Fight order: December 29th
#1 – 75kg (Elbows allowed) 2R 10 min + 5 min
Satoru Kitaoka vs Kiichi Kunimoto
#2 – 57kg 3R x 5 min
Shizuka Sugiyama vs Kana Watanabe
#3 Weight TBD 2R 10 min + 5 min
Kizaemon Saiga vs Kai Asakura
#4 Bantamweight GP Reserve bout – 61kg 3R x 5 min
Anthony Birchak vs Jae Hoon Moon
#5 -66kg 2R 10 min + 5 min
Hiroyuki Takaya vs Battaryn Azjavkhlan
#6 -70kg (Elbows allowed) 3R x 5 min
Reina Miura vs Cindy Dandois
#7 -93kg (Elbows allowed) 2R 10 min 10 min+ 5 min
Jiri Prochazka vs Karl Albrektsson
#8 -95kg 3R x 3 min
Gabi Garcia vs Shinobu Kandori
#9 Bantamweight GP Quarter Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Khalid Taha vs Takafumi Otsuka
#10 Bantamweight GP Quarter Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Kevin Petshi vs Shintaro Ishiwatari
#11 Bantamweight GP Quarter Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Ian McCall vs Manel Kape
Fight order: December 31st
#1 Bantam weight GP Semi Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Winner of McCall and Kape vs Winner of Horiguchi and Oliveira
#2 Bantam weight GP Semi Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Winner of Taha and Otsuka vs Winner of Petshi and Ishiwatari
#3 RIZIN Kick boxing tournament Semi Final -57kg 3R x 3 min
Tenshin Nasukawa vs Yuta Hamamoto
#4 RIZIN Kick boxing tournament Semi Final -57kg 3R x 3 min
Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs Yamato Fujita
#5 Women’s Super-Atom Weight GP Semi Final -49kg 3R x 5 min
Rena Kubota vs Irene Rivera
#6 Women’s Super-Atom Weight GP Semi Final -49kg 3R x 5 min
Maria Oliveira vs Kanna Asakura
#7 -72kg 3R x 5 min
Yusuke Yachi vs Takanori Gomi
#8 -57kg (Elbows allowed) 3R x 5 min
Shinju Auclair vs Chelsea Lagrasse
#9 -120kg 2R 10 min + 5 min
Mirko Crocop vs Tsuyoshi Kosaka
#10 RIZIN Kick boxing tournament Final -57kg 3R x 3 min
Winner of Nasukawa and Hamamoto vs Winner of Sunabe and Fujita
#11 Women’s Super-Atom Weight GP Final -49kg 3R x 5 min
Winner of Kubota and Rivera vs Winner of Oliveira and Asakura
#12 Bantamweight GP Final -61kg 3R x 5 min
Winner of #1 vs Winner of #2
Stay tuned for more Rizin coverage from the Red Monster: Check out the Rizin trailer in all its Glory below.