The Rizin FF ring returns to our screens in the early hours of Sunday morning as the promotion’s bantamweight champion looks to showcase his striking skills at the Saitama Super Arena.
Kai Asakura (15-2) captured the Rizin bantamweight title in his last outing at Rizin FF 23, and the heavy-handed 26-year-old returns to action in a non-title fight against Shoji Maruyama (18-12-1). Also set for action is lightweight King of Pancrase Takasuke Kume (23-6-3), who makes his Rizin FF debut against 72-fight veteran Satoru Kitaoka (42-20-10).
Those two bouts represent the featured MMA bouts of the evening on a card that is headlined by the return of kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa, who faces Koji Tanaka under Rizin kickboxing rules.
Follow along with our official results beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
Takeda wins ‘champion versus champion’ battle
DEEP lightweight champion Koji Takeda faced off against Shooto champ Yuki Kawana in a fascinating clash of 155-pound belt-holders, and in a fight that featured some wild striking exchanges, it was Takeda who prevailed as he claimed a split-decision victory after a bruising 155-pound battle.
Kawana (16-5-5) appeared to edge the striking exchanges early on as he kept Takeda (11-1) on the outside for much of the opening round, but Takeda more aggressively closed the distance after the restart as he looked to break his opponent’s rhythm.
With the fight hanging in the balance, Takeda upped the intensity at the start of the third round as both men pushed the pace in the final frame. With both men chasing a late finish, the two champions planted their feet and swung for the fences in a breathless finale, but neither man could make a fight-ending breakthrough as the bout made it to the final bell.
Once again, the judges couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict as Takeda took the victory via split decision.
Kume wins battle of the veterans to claim debut victory
Lightweight King of Pancrase Takasuke Kume’s Rizin debut was proved to be a tough, grueling encounter as the 35-year-old was forced to battle all the way to the scorecards with uber-tough 72-fight veteran Satoru Kitaoka.
Kume (24-6-3) held the advantage on the feet, but much of the action was spent on the mat as Kume and Kitaoka (42-21-10) battled back and forth in as series of draining wrestling and grappling exchanges as the bout went all the way to the scorecards after three hard-fought rounds.
When the judges rendered their verdicts, Kume got the nod via split decision as the fighter known as “Da Jaguar” made a winning start to life as a Rizin FF fighter.
Takizawa pips ‘Kintaro’ via split decision
The battle between Yuto Hokamura (known by his fighting name of “Kintaro”) and Kenta Takizawa promised an all-action scrap, and the two Japanese bantamweights didn’t disappoint as they served up a thrilling back-and-forth battle that went all the way to the scorecards.
Both men had their successes on the feet as they darted in and out with rapid-fire combinations, while Takizawa (11-5) connected with the most spectacular technique of the fight with a flying knee.
But, with the fight hanging in the balance heading into the third round “Kintaro” (13-9-2) switched gears and turned to his wrestling and grappling as he forced Takizawa against the ropes and wore on him as he relentlessly pursued the takedown. Despite concerted pressure from the rashguard-wearing Hokamura, he was unable to drag the action all the way to the canvas as the fight came to a somewhat anticlimactic close.
However, after the two madcap rounds that preceded it, there was certainly plenty to entertain the fans as the judges were called into action. The trio was split on the identity of the winner, but the split-decision victory went to Takizawa after a grueling encounter.
Kubota survives second-round scare to claim decision win
Rizin fan-favorite Rena Kubota had to negotiate dangerous waters on the mat, but she survived Emi Tomimatsu’s grappling assault to register a unanimous decision victory after three hard-fought rounds.
Kubota (11-3) edged things on the feet in Round 1, using her striking experience to keep Tomimatsu (15-17) on the back foot while employing smart takedown defense to avoid the action going to the mat.
But in Round 2 things went very differently after Tomimatsu dragged Kubota to the canvas and gained mount. Despite the dominant position, Tomimatsu was unable to make it count as Kubota maintained her composure and battled her way back to her feet.
It set things up perfectly for the final round, and Kubota loaded up her strikes to punish Tomimatsu on the feet, before taking her to the ground and searching for a Kimura finish. Tomimatsu defended well, forcing Kubota to stand up up and bring the fight back into the striking realm, and the 29-year-old let her punches go in the final moments of the fight to secure the unanimous decision verdict from the three ringside judges.
Hagiwara’s slick submission too good for Ashida
After a pair of contests spent largely in the striking realm, Kyohei Hagiwara served up a submission finish in Saitama as he finished Takahiro Ashida inside the opening round of their featherweight matchup.
The action went to the floor early as Hagiwara (2-2) secured an early takedown, but Ashida (23-11-2) stayed calm and slowly worked his way back up to his feet. Hagiwara refused to relinquish his body lock, however, and brought the action straight back to the mat once again.
Hagiwara moved into half-guard and, after the referee shifted the pair away from the corner area, went in search of a finish. As Ashida attempted to escape the predicament, Hagiwara rolled to his back and locked up a triangle Kimura to force the tap and secure a slick first-round submission victory.
Tsuyoshi wins battle of heavyweight debutants
Professional wrestling faced sumo wrestling as Tokyo-based Kiwi Dylan James took on Sudario Tsuyoshi in a battle of 0-0 heavyweights and, after a scrappy contest between two MMA debutants, it was sumo that came out victorious after the referee waved off the fight before the start of the second round.
Both men started throwing wild haymakers before James looked to lock up against the ropes. The pair eventually separated and Tsuyoshi (1-0) connected with a solid right that snapped back James’ head. The action went to the mat where Tsuyoshi locked u a front headlock and proceeded to connect with a series of heavy knees to the top of James’ head.
With James (0-1) doing little more than trying to cover up, Tsuyoshi eventually rolled his man over and unloaded some heavy ground and pound to finish the round as James headed back to his corner with blood streaming from a broken nose.
The ringside medics checked out the New Zealander and decided he was unable to continue as Tsuyoshi claimed a first-round TKO win on his MMA debut.
Ohara edges Yachi in bloody war
The first fight of the night delivered a bloody back-and-forth war as former DEEP lightweight title challenger Juri Ohara edged Yusuke Yachi after three breathless rounds.
The opening round started with Yachi (21-21) the aggressor early, but he was dropped mid-way through the round and Ohara (27-18-3) followed his man to the mat in search of a finish. Yachi desperately attempted to fend off his man with an armbar attempt, but could not stop the relentless barrage of ground strikes from Ohara that left him cut and bleeding all over the canvas.
Somehow, Yachi survived the round and came back strongly in Round 2. He turned the tables on Ohara when he dropped his man late in the round, but wasn’t able to capitalize on the knockdown. After a punishing first two rounds, the action moved into the final frame with both men busted up, but refusing to back down. Ohara took the center of the ring and connected with a flying knee, but Yachi continued to throw back with power.
A late Yachi takedown gave him the opportunity to attack from the mount, but Ohara smartly swept his man and finished the fight raining down vicious ground and pound as the final bell rang. It meant a hugely entertaining opening bout was eventually decided by the judges, who awarded the fight to Ohara via split decision.
Rizin FF 24 official results
- Kai Asakura vs. Shoji Maruyama
- Koji Takeda def. Yuki Kawana via split decision
- Takasuke Kume def. Satoru Kitaoka via split decision
- Kenta Takizawa def. Yuto Hokamura via split decision
- Rena Kubota def. Emi Tomimatsu via unanimous decision
- Kyohei Hagiwara def. Takahiro Ashida via submission (triangle Kimura) – Round 1
- Sudario Tsuyoshi def. Dylan James via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1
- Juri Ohara def. Yusuke Yachi via split decision