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New Year's Eve Just Got Real: Masato vs. KID Yamamoto Rematch

  • Published in Kickboxing

Rizin FF on New Year's Eve has had the eyes of the MMA world since they first announced their event, being headlined by Fedor Emelianenko on New Year's Eve. While that is, indeed, a huge deal, what was announced today has a direct impact on the Japanese audiences by putting together one of the biggest fights that you could put together in Japan. That fight is KID Yamamoto vs. Masato in a 5 round kickboxing fight under the banner of KYOKUGEN on TBS.

One night only.

KID Yamamoto, who is currently under contract to Zuffa/UFC, will be allowed to participate in this event under some strange act of god, while Masato has agreed to return to the ring one last time against KID Yamamoto, whom he defeated in 2004 at Dynamite!! in a three-round kickboxing bout. Let's just hope there isn't a crazy low blow this time. [source]

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Rizin News: Peter Aerts Saves the Day Yet Again

  • Published in Kickboxing

This wouldn't be the first time that Jerome Le Banner has pulled out of a fight without much of an explanation given, nor would it be the first time that Peter Aerts has stepped in on late notice to help to save an event. That's just the kind of guy that Peter Aerts is. Once again Peter Aerts has come to the rescue, just six months after he officially retired from professional fighting. This time it was for Rizin FF's big New Year's Eve spectacular.

Jerome Le Banner was originally slated to fight Kaido Hoovelson in an MMA contest, but has pulled out. Last night at Rizin's first event Nobuhiko Takada stepped into the ring alongside Hoovelson and Peter Aerts to announce that Le Banner was out, officially, and that Aerts was in. 

Those that watched last night's event can attest to it being a violent throwback to the days of PRIDE and K-1 Dynamite!! events that kept the lifeblood flowing through a lot of fans, a stark contrast to the homogeneous UFC events that are pumped out on a weekly basis. 

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Rizin Night 2 Results: Fedor is Back, Souwer Power in MMA and RENA is the GOAT

  • Published in Asia

My god, what a show. 

If you were reading Twitter throughout the Rizin FF broadcast you'll either be under the impression that this was the greatest show to ever grace this good Earth or the biggest monstrosity to ever happen to mankind. That's the kind of divisiveness Japanese fight sports brings to the table. What I can say is that this was one of the most entertaining nights of fights in perhaps years. As someone who gave up watching MMA after the UFC's homogenization went into full force I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of just how exciting that MMA really can be. 

Jiki Prochazka vs. Vadim Nemkov was perhaps one of the most exciting and active MMA fights that I've seen in a very long time, a stark contrast from the weekly fights that turned me away from the sport over the past few years. 

Of course, kickboxing was represented in quite a few ways throughout the show as well. In fact, the show began with Shoot Boxing superstar RENA making her MMA debut against the very tough Jleanna Valentino. Many quickly wrote off Valentino, but she is a decent muay thai fighter who trains in Italy with Giorgio and Armen Petrosyan, which has to count for something. What we got was a really good striking display from both women before RENA pulled off a flying armbar for the amazing win. 

On the K-1 front K-1 55kg champion Takeru came in and destroyed Yang Ming just like you thought that he would. Peter Aerts stepped in on two days notice against sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson in what was an ugly bout, especially considering the kinds of injuries that Aerts has been suffering from and having to watch this behemoth of a man just fall on Aerts and put him in all sorts of awful circumstances. That being said, Aerts went for a choke and an armbar, which was entertaining. 

Speaking of entertainment, Cesar Takeshi, the founder of Shoot Boxing, was out in full force to be the special guest referee in a Shoot Boxing rules bout between Bob Sapp and Akebono. Yes. This happened. Sapp hit Akebono so hard in the back of the head that a cut literally exploded open and Sapp spent the rest of the fight hitting him in the back of the head and Takeshi pausing the fight to let Stitch Duran work on Akebono. This happened like eight times. Sapp eventually won and nobody understood how or what happened to make that happen. 

Andy Souwer, after years of waiting, finally made his MMA debut and he did it against Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima. Nagashima was looking for submissions against Souwer but Souwer had a pretty solid ground game, all things considered, and was pounding and kneeing Jienotsu in the face. When they got back up to their feet Souwer landed a crazy combination and knocked Jienotsu out with body shots. Damn.

The main event saw Fedor Emelianenko make short work of former K-1 and GLORY fighter Jaideep "Heart" Singh. Former New Japan Pro Wrestling star and current Minister of Education Hiroshi Hase came to the ring to present Fedor with the WCW International Heavyweight Championship. I'm not kidding. He presented Fedor with the big gold belt from when NJPW had a working relationship with WCW and Hase briefly held WCW's kind of world championship. Anyway, he gave that belt to Fedor and it was weird but it owned. 

Seriously, that was an amazing night of fights. 

Rizin FF GP Final: King Mo (R1 - TKO) Jiri Prochazka
Fedor Emelianenko (R1 - TKO) Jaideep Singh
Kron Gracie (R1 - Submission) Asen Yamamoto
Andy Souwer (R1 - KO) Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima
Kaido "Baruto" Hoovelson (R2 - Decision) Peter Aerts
Shoot Boxing Rules: Bob Sapp (R3 - Decision) Akebono
Gabi Garcia (R1 - KO) Lei'd Tapa
K-1 Rules: Takeru (R2 - TKO) Yang Ming
Soo Chul Kim (R2 - Decision)
Bellator Rules: Brennan Ward (R2 - Submission) Ken Hasegawa
Rizin FF GP: Jiri Prochazka (R1 - TKO) Vadim Nemkov
Rizin FF GP: King Mo (R2 - Decision) Teodoras Aukstuolis
RENA (R2 - Submission) Jleana Valentino

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Rizin FF Announces Jerome Le Banner Fighting MMA on NYE

  • Published in Kickboxing

Remember when Jerome Le Banner retired? Yeah, about that. Combat sports retirements only last as long as there isn't money on the table and Japan's new RIZIN FF promotion has laid out whatever amount of money that it took to get Jerome Le Banner back into the ring for New Year's Eve. The crazy, three-day long event will culminate with a huge NYE event on December 31st that'll air on Spike TV in the United States. 

Jerome Le Banner will be a part of that, fighting his first MMA fight in over five years against former sumo wrestling star Kaido Hoovelson. Le Banner was a huge star in Japan thanks to K-1 and still holds a near god-like status with fans in Japan. This booking is little surprise considering that, even if the fight is a bit, well, strange. It's Japan, it's New Year's Eve, this is the kind of stuff that we've come to expect, know and love.

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RUMOR: Andy Souwer vs. Jienotsu Nagashima in MMA Rules Set for Rizin on NYE

  • Published in Kickboxing

The news of the return of Sakakibara to MMA on New Year's Eve has the entire combat sports world abuzz, especially for the return of Fedor Emelianenko that same night against an opponent that was originally slated to be Jaideep Singh, but has apparently changed to TBA. The kickboxing world will be represented in this show, with there being talk of there being a kickboxing portion of the event, as well as involvement from some of the biggest names in professional kickboxing under MMA rules, with RENA from Shoot Boxing the first name tossed into the hat. 

The latest addition to this is K-1 MAX veteran Andy Souwer will finally make his MMA debut after years of anticipation and it will be against another K-1 MAX star in Yuichiro "Jienotsu" Nagashima. Nagashima is no stranger to New Year's Eve spectacles, including a mixed-rules bout between himself and Shinya Aoki that saw a mix of kickboxing and MMA rounds. 

Souwer is still considered a legend in Japan and while he hasn't been competing there as often will still be fresh in the memories of fans for his past NYE appearances, including Masato's epic retirement bout in 2009.

Edit: Souwer's manager later made a statement to Round1Network claiming that he misspoke about this news. We'll consider this a strong rumor for now because, really, who even has an opponent lined up without there being strong talks?

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Rizin Night 1 Results: HIROYA and Hinata Win Big, Sakuraba Says Goodbye

  • Published in Asia

Last night marked the triumphant return of Japanese kakutougi in the Saitama Super Arena after what felt like a long hibernation. Yes, there have been other MMA and kickboxing shows to happen in Japan over the past few years, even a few UFC events that did pretty well, but none could compare to the absolute insanity that was Rizin FF's first night. Rizin FF's first night was nothing short of a throwback to the Dynamite!! events of old, with freakshows, a legitimate tournament and some kickboxing to add some seasoning to the whole thing. 

On the kickboxing front the former K-1 Koshien star and current K-1 and KRUSH star HIROYA bounced back after two tough losses in K-1 over the last year or so with a big win on one of the biggest stages that kickboxing has seen in Japan in a long time. That win was against MMA and kickboxing veteran "Wicky" Akiyo Nishiura and it happened via KO in the third round. Wicky was a mainstay in Japan for DREAM in their twilight years and this win was a rather high profile win for both HIROYA and K-1 Japan.

The other big bout was Hinata Watanabe fighting Kazuyuki Miyata, the former K-1 HERO*s and DREAM star in a mixed-rules bout. Think Aoki vs. Jienotsu from a few years ago, only they never made it out of the first kickboxing round because Hinata put a hurting on the 39 year old Miyata and won via TKO by knockdowns. 

On the MMA side the tournament didn't provide many big surprises, unless you thought that Satoshi Ishii could possibly win, because he didn't. Hideo Tokoro beat up our beautiful friend in Kaizemon Saiga, who was best known from his work in K-1's 65kg division before swapping over to MMA, showing Saiga that he still has a lot of work to do on his ground game before he can hang with the likes of Tokoro. The main event was a brutal beatdown from Shinya Aoki against MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba, who should be sticking to wrestling in New Japan from now on since this was his retirement, but you know how that works out. Sakuraba has done a lot for fighting in Japan and he's always been willing to lay it all on the line for fans and the sport. In a way it was fitting for Sakuraba to lose to a Japanese submission specialist on a night that many are seeing as the rebirth of Japanese fighting, isn't it?

Rizin FF GP: Vadim Nemkov (R1 - TKO) Goran Reljic
Rizin FF GP: Jiri Prochazka (R1 - KO) Satoshi Ishii
Rizin FF GP: Teodoras Aukstuolis (R1 - KO) Bruno Cappelozza
Rizin FF GP: King Mo (R1 - KO) Brett McDermott
Rizin FF GP Reserve: Valentin Moldovsky (R1 - Sub) Yuta Uchida

Hiroyuki Takaya (R3 - Dec.) Dalki Hata
Hideo Tokoro (R1 - Sub) Kizaemon Saiga
Anatoly Tokov (R1 - KO) AJ Matthews
Felipe Efrain (R1 - KO) Yuki Motoya (ruled NC due to Efrain missing weight)
Kirill Sidelnikov (R2 - TKO) Carlos Toyota
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (R2 - TKO) James Thompson

K-1: HIROYA (R3 - KO) Akiyo Nishiura
Mixed Rules: Hinata (R1 - TKO) Kazuyuki Miyata

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Rizin News: Le Banner Might Be Out, Fujita or Aerts Possibly in

  • Published in Kickboxing

Fans of Jerome Le Banner that were looking forward to his return on New Year's Eve in Japan against Kaido Hoovelson in an MMA bout, but it looks like that bout might be in danger now. Reports have been coming in from Japan that Le Banner is injured and won't be able to participate in the show. The only press that we've seen on it seems to be inconclusive, to say the least

The rumored replacement is former PRIDE fighter and New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kazuyuki Fujita and there have been some rumors of Peter Aerts possibly filling in -- and we know that he's in Japan right now -- but it's not clear. Fujita is currently scheduled for a bout on the IGF Inoki Bom-Be-Ye event

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Shootboxing Star RENA Fighting MMA at Rizin on New Year's Eve

  • Published in Kickboxing

Photo (C) SportsNavi

Everyone has been waiting with baited breath for more information on Sakakibara's latest venture into the world of MMA after the untimely death of PRIDE FC. Well, we at least have a name now as well as a few other details. The name of this promotion will be Rizin Fighting Federation, or Rizin FF. The show on New Year's Eve will be the Rizin Fighting World Grand-Prix 2015 and while the main even will be Fedor Emelianenko vs. Jaideep "Heart" Singh, the card will also feature BJJ competitor Gabby Garcia, Shinya Aoki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba and female Shootboxing superstar RENA.

That's right, RENA. 

For a long time now RENA (Rena Kubota) has been one of Shootboxing's biggest stars. Shootboxing itself is not exactly huge in Japan, but has a good following and RENA often appears on mainstream Japanese television. Apparently she is MMA-bound now, making her MMA debut this December at Rizin against an unnamed opponent. What is fascinating about this is that RENA could be a huge, huge breakout star in Japan beyond where she is now. Shootboxing is just, well, a bit weird and might never be more than a niche sport. MMA has proven to be a sport that fans can get behind and with her innate starpower on this show it could mean big things for both Rizin and herself.

More when we have it.

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Tenshin Nasukawa Makes RIZIN MMA Debut And Cements Superstar Status

  • Published in Kickboxing

Eighteen-year-old Japanese kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa made his MMA debut tonight at RIZIN MMA in Japan, proving himself not only to be a force to be reckoned with in muay thai and kickboxing, but in MMA as well. HEading into the fight there were the usual fears that the kickboxing community has when a star kickboxer decides to try their hand at MMA. You'd need to look no further than the bout that preceded Tenshin's, where Andy Souwer was submitted via armbar in the first round to Kazuyuki Miyata. To say that Japanese matchmakers are ruthless in looking for entertainment is an understatement; they thrive on pairing grapplers against strikers in hopes of a highlight reel knockout or submission.

And Tenshin was almost submitted by Nakita Sapun.

All of that happened because Tenshin was unafraid to go to the ground with an actual MMA fighter. Sapun is not much of a grappler, but does have more experience in the MMA ring than Tenshin does, obviously.

Yet, still, Tenshin felt comfortable taking the fight to the ground while everyone expected it to be a stand-up battle. After surviving that sick armbar, most kickboxers would back off, wait for their opponent to get up and fight their own fight. Tenshin didn't do that. Oh no. Instead, he waited and pounced when he saw his opening, winning via TKO.

Then, in something that is very much uniquely Japanese (and why is it?), he grabbed the microphone and appealed for another fight in two nights at RIZIN's next event, claiming that he'd want to fill in for the injured Krazy Horse against Minoru Kimura. Imagine that, a KNOCK OUT and K-1 showdown in MMA rules. My god. The kid who almost had his arm busted wanted more. There wasn't some sap in a suit jamming a mic in his face asking him what he wanted, or to walk him through the finish, he just expressed himself and was aloud to make himself a bigger star. Nobuhiko Takada claimed if the doctors would clear him he could fight.

His debut knockout victory already made him a viral star, but now at one of the biggest Japanese fighting events of the year he proved himself gutsy, talented and fearless with an incredibly bright future ahead of him. We've been searching high-and-low for the next big Japanese kickboxing star to help spark a resurgence of the sport in Japan and it feels like Tenshin could be that fighter. 

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