After a bit of concern, Rizin Fighting Federation will be back in action in August.
Early Thursday morning, the organization sent out a press release announcing its return in the form of two events on Aug. 9 and 10. The shows, titled Rizin 22: Starting Over and Rizin 23: Calling Over will air on back-to-back nights for the promotion, with each containing seven bouts. The Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, Japan, will allow fans to attend at 50 percent capacity, and it will all culminate with a bout for the vacant bantamweight title.
The Japanese promotion has gone through some public issues with finances as of late, with the coronavirus putting a halt to most sporting events around the world including Rizin. Without an ability to put on a show, the funds started to dry up, causing founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara to opine whether Rizin would survive. On Tuesday, the company put up a crowd-funding page to allow for fans to pay for these events to take place. As of the writing of this piece, Rizin has raised over 10 million Yen – around $93,000 – for 20 percent of its goal. Over 1,100 supporters have donated to the cause, encouraging Rizin to announce these events and matchups.
On each card, four of the seven fights were announced via the press release. On Aug. 9, the “Starting Over” show will see a top billing of Naoki Inoue (13-2) vs. Shuto Watanabe (20-4-6, 1 NC) in the flyweight division. Additionally, three other fights including the return of Kanna Asakura (16-4) have been added, as the former atomweight title challenger takes on Mizuki Furuse (7-6) in the super atomweight, 108-pound, division.
The event the next day, “Calling Over,” will be headlined by a bout for the vacant bantamweight title between Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-4-2) and Kai Asakura (14-2). Former champ Manel Kape departed for the UFC in 2020, but not before knocking Asakura out for the title in December. His opponent, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 24 finalist Ougikubo, has won each of his last three since dropping a decision to future king Kyoji Horiguchi. As well as the title fight, Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) makes his way back to the ring following a lengthy layoff against the 20-year-old Deep interim flyweight titleholder Makoto Takahashi (10-1-1) at 125 pounds.
Rizin 22 Current Lineup:Naoki Inoue vs. Shuto Watanabe
Tetsuya Seki vs. Yojiro Uchimura
Kanna Asakura vs. Mizuki Furuse
Yusuke Yachi vs. Roberto de Souza
Rizin 23 Current Lineup:Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Kai Asakura
Seiichiro Ito vs. Makoto Takahashi
Yuki Motoya vs. Mamoru Uoi
Yutaka Saito vs. Kazumasa Majima