After about a month off, I'm bringing back the Japanese scene weekly updates to keep you updated on what is happening in Japan.
This week saw a few upcoming cards take some hits due to injuries, but luckily the fighters who replaced them aren't much of a step down at all. Gagny Baradji, who was set to fight Naoki Ishikawa in one of the ISKA Lightweight Tournament semifinals at Krush.29 was forced out of his bout due to an arm injury. Replacing him is Xavier Bastard who pushed Krush 60kg champ Hirotaka Urabe to the limit the last time he was in Japan, but lost on a somewhat controversial cut stoppage in an extension round. He has just as good of a chance to win this tournament as Baradji did, if not even better, and his semifinal with Naoki Ishikawa should be a great fight.
The other fighter to be bit by the injury bug was Ayano Oishi, who was set to face Greece's Maria Pantazi at Hoost Cup Kings. Replacing her will be one of her recent opponents, Kimiko Sasaki, who put up a valiant effort, but ultimately lost to Oishi in her last fight.
In what looks to be RISE's best card of the year so far, RISE has announced a huge champion vs champion matchup as 63kg champ Sun Hyun Lee faces 65kg champ Yasuomi Soda at 65kg on July 20th at RISE 94. This follows in the footsteps of RISE 93's big matchup between 60kg champ Kosuke Komiyama and Yuki, who Sun Hyun Lee won his 63kg title from earlier this year. Lee, who is the LiverKick #4 Lightweight, lost his last bout, though it was at 70kg to Yoshihiro Sato in GLORY, a man who stands over 6 inches taller than him. Soda won his most recent bout where he took the 65kg title from Koji Yoshimoto in a rematch. Also expected to participate on the card are the aforementioned Komiyama, 55kg champ Dyki, 57.5kg champ Ittao, LiverKick #2 ranked Lightweight Masahiro Yamamoto and Daiki Watabe.
NJKF announced a pair of big matchups to join the July 15th card that already features LiverKick #1 Lightweight Masaaki Noiri against NJKF Super Lightweight champ Seiji Takahashi in a fight for the vacant WBC Japan Super Lightweight title. In a fight to determine WBC Japan Welterweight champion Yuya Yamato's next challenger, NJKF Super Welterweight champion Kenta takes on J-Network Welterweight champ Masato Otake. In a fight to determine WBC Japan Lightweight champion Yosuke Mizuochi's next challenger, NJKF Lightweight champ Keijiro Miyakoshi takes on Shota Saenchaigym. Mizuochi won his title from Miyakoshi and Shota recently upset Mizuochi.
MA Kick announced a fight for their June 30th card between K-1 veteran Yuji Takeuchi and Kanongsuk Weerasakreck. Both fighters have struggled over the last couple of years, but have been looking more like themselves lately. A win here for either guy will be huge.
HEAT has announced a 70kg tournament for HEAT Korea vol.1, their first event in South Korea. In one semifinal MA Kick and WPMF Japan Super Welterweight champion Hiroto looks to continue his run against RISE veteran Cha Un Pyo. In the other semifinal, K-1 veteran Choi Woo Young takes on Ok Ton-ju. Hiroto and Choi would have to be the favorites here, but Cha is a good candidate to score an upset. HEAT also announced a big fight for HEAT 27 on July 28th as 70kg champ Danilo Zanolini puts his title on the line against Yuji Nashiro.
Results from this past week after the break.