Rings founder Akira Maeda announced Tuesday that former kickboxer Takayuki “Taishin” Kohiruimaki will make his MMA debut next month under the Rings banner. Kohiruimaki takes on Englishman Ben Abbott in a two-round welterweight bout at Rings “Reincarnation,” set for March 9 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
A three-time K-1 Max Japan tournament champion, Kohiruimaki compiled a 40-20-2 record in his nearly 13-year career as a striker. The 34-year-old has not entered the ring since an October 2009 defeat to Gago Drago but began training for his MMA debut last fall. His opponent, Abbott, also comes from a kickboxing background and is a pupil of early Rings fighter Lee Hasdell. Abbott has not competed in MMA since September 2010 and holds a 1-4 record overall.
Founded in 1991 as a puroresu (pro-wrestling) league, Rings became one of Japan’s MMA forebears when it began staging mixed fight cards in 1995. With a network of affiliates throughout Europe and the Asia-Pacific, the company imported and promoted numerous future stars, particularly with its “King of Kings” open-weight tournaments. While Rings itself has been absent domestically for more than a decade, it has been succeeded by its grassroots offspring, grapple-centric promotion Zst.
Since 2008, Maeda has used the Rings name to promote The Outsider, an amateur event infamous for its crowd brawls and rough-edged competitors from various Japanese subcultures. Prior to January’s “Battle Genesis, Vol. 9,” Japan had not seen a proper Rings event since Emelianenko defeated Chris Haseman in the 2002 “World Title Series Grand Final.”
Other matchups announced Tuesday for “Reincarnation” include Zst mainstay Toshihiro Shimizu against Outsider featherweight champion Daisuke Maku, and a lightweight scrap between Outsider titlist Hisato Izawa and Russia’s Vitali Krat.