RIZIN Fighting Federation has hinted at a Lightweight Grand Prix and now we have a date.
RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced the eight-man Lightweight GP will kick off at RIZIN 19 on 12 October. Three qualifying bouts are now set to take place at RIZIN 17.
Japanese legend Tatsuya Kawajiri (36-13-2) will make his return to the RIZIN ring to participate in the Lightweight GP qualifying round. He will face the undefeated Russian prospect Ali Abdulkhalikov (7-0).
UFC veteran Johnny Case (25-6-1) will make his second appearance for RIZIN to meet journeyman Satoru Kitaoka (42-19-9) for a spot on the October card.
The last of the lightweight tournament qualifying bouts sees another UFC vet Mizuto Hirota (18-10-2) make his first appearance for RIZIN against Jiu Jitsu sensation Roberto de Souza (8-0).
RIZIN said more qualifying bouts will take place at RIZIN 18. A date and location for that event are yet to be announced.
The co-promotion between Bellator and RIZIN will form part of the tournament. Bellator CEO Scott Coker has announced he will send Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (21-8) to participate from the opening round.
RIZIN 17 takes place a the Saitama Super Arena on 28 July and will see ROAD FC atomweight champion Ham Seo Hee (20-8) make her promotional debut against DEEP Jewels atomweight champion Tomo Maesawa (12-9).
The RIZIN 17 card now includes:
Yusuke Yachi vs Mikuru Asakura
Yuki Motoya vs Hiromasa Ogikubo
Shintaro Ishiwatari vs Ulka Sasaki
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Ali AbdulKhalikov
Satoru Kitaoka vs Johnny Case
Roberto de Souza vs Mizuto Hirota
Seo Hee Ham vs Tomo Maesawa
Jake Heun vs Vitaly Shemetov
Kevin Ross vs Daiki Watabe (Kickboxing)