RIZIN lined up its biggest names for a press conference to announce the initial bouts for RIZIN 13, set for the Saitama Super Arena on 30 September.
No less than eight championship belts decorated the panelist table for a stellar lineup of Japanese champions. Under kickboxing rules, the best MMA flyweight in Japan will face the best kickboxing flyweight in Japan, when RIZIN champion Kyoji Horiguchi takes on RISE champion Tenshin Nasukawa.
RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara opened the conference saying RIZIN will learn from the past and move on, and respect the past while it works on building a new era.
Pancrase versus DEEP takes place in the rapidly rising strawweight division as two-time defending Pancrase champion Mitsuhisa Sunabe meets once defending DEEP champ Haruo Ochi.
“This will be a fight between the best strawweights that Japan has to offer,”Ochi said.
“If I win I’m willing to give my DEEP belt to my opponent and I hope he will do the same.”
Sunabe added he was out to prove strawweights were competitive and demanding on the big stage.
“I grew up watching big heavyweight fighters clash on TV. I was concerned we’d never get booked on a big stage. I will prove that strawweights are competitive and demanding,” he said.
In a battle of two of the best female fighters in Japan, former Invicta atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki will face DEEP champ Mina Kurobe.
At 41 years of age, Kurobe said she was a freshman for RIZIN.
“It’s an honor to fight Hamasaki, a top contender. She’s charming and cute, but I look forward to beating her face,” she said.
“I hope RIZIN will introduce me to a boyfriend.”
Hamasaki responded: “I’m honored to fight the DEEP champion and I know she’s been competing at the top level in Japan, but I’ve been at the top level in the world. I’ll beat her and prevent her from getting a boyfriend.”
The Outsider champion brothers Asakura Kai and Mikuru are fighting together on the RIZIN 13 card, versus Topnoi and Karshyga Dautbek respectively. Expect two brilliant battles.
Kai and Mikuru are known for their karate acumen and brutality. Topnoi announced his assault on the division at RIZIN 11 and Dautbek has five first-round KOs on his 6-1 record.
Karshyga’s message was simple. “I’m honored to be the first Kazakh in RIZIN, I will show our warrior spirit. This will be a battle between nomad and samurai. The ring will show who is stronger.”
Mikuru added he was glad for the offer and initially had overlooked his opponent.
“I looked him up and found out how good he is. Both brothers are going to beat up our opponents.”
DEEP flyweight champ Yusaku Nakamura, who recently lost a kickboxing bout to Tenshin, will take on the game Manel Kape.
Cro Cop will make his return against the surging DEEP Megaton champ Roque Martinez.
Martinez said he was honored to fight Cro Cop, but is out to prove the power of the DEEP Megatons and make it his retirement fight.
In a video statement Cro Cop said he was now clear of all injuries. “Please come watch my show.”
In the highly anticipated announcement of Kyoji’s and Tenshin’s returns, it was revealed they would fight each other under kickboxing rules, perhaps under a single 15-minute round.
“I’m very excited this fight is announced. I’m confident I’ll put on an exciting kickboxing match,” Kyoji said.
Tenshin was more blunt. “I will knock him out. I’m okay for a 15 minute round. I’m glad this fight is wanted by the Japanese and international fans. I’m grateful to fight Kyoji on this stage.”
The opening round of an eight-man tournament was previously planned for RIZIN, but Nobuhiko Takada said that because they were able to put together the fight that people wanted, it will be a great start to the kickboxing era. A four-man kickboxing tournament will be held on the NYE event.
There is the possibility that one or two more fights will be announced. Joe Ferraro and Frank Trigg will be the live commentators and the event is expected to be streamed on Fite.tv.
30 September 2018
58kg Kickboxing Match
Tenshin Nasukawa vs Kyoji Horiguchi
Daron Cruickshank vs Diego Brandao
Light Heavyweight Match
Jiri Prochazka vs Jake Heun
Women’s 49kg Match
Andy Nguyen vs Miyuu Yamamoto
Yusaku Namakura vs Manel Kape
Asakura Kai vs Topnoi Tiger Muay Thai
Asakura Mikuru vs Karshyga Dautbek
Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs Haruo Ochi
Women’s 49kg Match
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Mina Kurobe
Mirko Cro Cop vs Roque Martinez
59 kg Kickboxing Match
Taiga vs Kento Haraguchi