At today’s Rizin press conference in Tokyo, five matches and two fighters were announced for Rizin 12 which will take place on August 12 in Nagoya.
Possibly headlining the card, Krazy Bee’s Yusuke Yachi will face Brazilian Bruno Carvalho. Carvalho was a hot prospect who was selected for DREAM in 2011 and lost a unanimous decision to Eiji Mitsuoka. The international recognition also earned him a one-fight shot in Bellator, however it was back to Brazil after that.
His last fight was a TKO that earned him the JF Fight lightweight title at the end of 2016. Yachi’s on a 6-fight win streak since about the time of Carvalho’s last fight, and his fans are probably betting on it to extend.
Hatsu Hioki versus Asakura Mikuru is definitely the old guard ushering in the new, and although the Asakura brothers have a great deal of hype right now, nobody wants to see Japan’s golden boy dismantled either. Hioki’s carried the torch for Japan from Shooto through Sengoku and into the UFC.
He returned to Japan in Pancrase where he’s 2-2 in two years, and his last fight was a sad but stunning repeat loss to Hiroyuki Takaya, the first man to break Hioki’s undefeated reign. Mikuru, the older of The Outsider champion brothers Asakura, has but a fraction of Hioki’s experience, but all of the knockout power. He hasn’t fought nearly the level of fighters that Hioki has, yet nobody is going to sleep on this kid – especially not Hioki.
The announcement that initially caused a stir was Roque Martinez versus “Samurai Mark Hunt”. “Rocky” being the DEEP Megaton champ who submitted Jerome LeBanner at Rizin seemed momentarily – even by Japanese fans – to be set to face yet another legend. However, it’s a more likely candidate whose real name is Kiyoshi Kuwabara. He’s won as much as he’s lost, but he’s also never turned down a fight. Even on a week’s notice as he did against Road FC lightweight champ Kwon A-Sol, catching the surprise KO just 18 seconds into the match. Kuwabara has only heard the final bell three times in all his fights, so if Roque brings it, expect to see a slugfest. Unless Roque decides to train with Imanari first.
King Reina Miura returns to face a very surprising opponent, Invicta FC matchmaker Kaitlin Young. Young is 4 years removed from the game but MMA never really leaves a fighter’s bloodstream. She’s 32 and in prime condition to make a return. Young’s final 4 fights might have been losses, but her fights with Meisha Tate, Gina Carano, and Julie Kedzie cannot be overlooked. King Reina is just 21 and has the whole world still in front of her.
The tannest man in MMA Kiichi Kunimoto takes his second walk to the Rizin ring against Deep Welterweight champ Ryuichiro Sumimura. Kunimoto demolished Kitaoka in his Japan homecoming, while Sumimura’s been methodically dispatching his way up the Japan rankings. In a new age where being in the UFC is not the penultimate of a fighter’s career anymore, this will still be very much Sumimura’s proving ground.
The 4 men’s fights will be under Special Rules, namely 3 x 5 minute rounds instead of 1 x 10 minute round plus 1 x 5 minute round.
Also on the card will be former Deep flyweight champ Yuki Motoya and fireball Kanako Murata. Asia MMA will follow up with future updates to the card.
For more information on Rizin and upcoming events, check out their website Rizin FF.