Rizin 26 New Year’s Eve Lineup Includes Atomweight Title Bout, Return of ‘Minowaman’

By: Tristen Critchfield
Dec 2, 2020

An atomweight championship clash pitting Ayaka Hamasaki against Miyuu Yamamoto is among several additions to the Rizin Fighting Federation 26 lineup on New Year’s Eve.

Yamamoto and Ham initially squared off in October 2019, with Ham winning by second round technical knockout at Rizin 19.

“Miuyuu Yamamoto has been an idol of mine for such a long time. I am very excited to be facing her on such a great stage," Ham said. "Please look forward to a great masterpiece on a great night and great stage against a great opponent. Miyuu’s physical strength is outstanding and she has grown as a fighter, I don’t think I will be able to beat her easily.”

In other noteworthy action, 113-fight veteran Ikuhisa "Minowaman" Minowa will return against Tsuyoshi Sudario at heavyweight, while Greco Roman Olympic silver medalist Shinobu Ota will make his MMA debut against Hideo Tokoro at bantamweight.

“I’m very excited and grateful to be able to perform in the platform I’ve been watching my entire life," Ota said. "I hear many people saying I’m taking MMA lightly, but I am aware of that. But I have been training hard and there is a reason why I decided to make my debut. I have no plans to lose.”

Rizin 26 takes place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, on Dec. 31 and is headlined by a bantamweight championship rematch between Kai Asakura and Kyoji Horiguchi. Fans will be allowed to attend the event in a limited capacity. While the Japanese promotion typically holds three consecutive events at the end of the year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic allows for only one in 2020.

Four other fights were confirmed for Rizin 26: Kyohei Hagiwara vs. Ren Hiramoto at a 150-pound catchweight; Yuki Motoya vs. Naoki Inoue at bantamweight; Yuta Sasaki vs. Kenta Takizawa at bantamweight and Kanna Asakura vs. Ai Shimizu at atomweight.

The Rizin atomweight crown was vacated earlier this year by Seo Hee Ham, who is rumored to have signed with One Championship. Hamasaki lost to Ham via split decision in an atomweight title bout at Rizin 20 on Dec. 31, 2019. Hamasaki returned to the win colum with a submission of Tomo Maesawa at Rizin 22 on Aug. 9.

Yamamoto rebounded from the loss to Ham in her most recent outing, when she outpointed Suwanan Boonsorn at Rizin 20.

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