RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final Round Recap and Results

RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final Round Mirko Cro-Cop
Mirko Cro-Cop and Tsuyoshi Kosaka Credit: RIZIN FF

The RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final Round took place early on December 31 for those in the west. Featuring the semi-final and finals of the bantamweight tournament, the return of feared heavyweight Mirko Cro-Cop, kickboxing action, Takanori Gomi and more, it was a promising way to close out the year in MMA.

With Ian McCall having fallen to Manel Kape due to a cut from the ring ropes just days earlier, Kyoji Horiguchi was unquestionably the favorite to win it all.

Check back throughout the event for a recap and results of the night’s action!

Manel Kape vs. Kyoji Horiguchi

These two came out swinging in the first semi-final bout of the bantamweight grand prix. Horiguchi stunned Kape early, but Kape recovered and began landing strikes on the Japanese fighter. Kape then pressed Horiguchi into the corner. Back in the middle Horiguchi went high with a kick. Kape continued to rely on his grappling. Kape slipped off a kick, but was later able to take Horiguchi’s back. Horiguchi broke free, and Kape did a little taunting with his hands down before going back to the clinch game and tying his opponent up against the ropes. Horiguchi, however, was able to take his opponent down with ninety seconds to go. Kape was showing some damage to the eye. A rear-naked choke attempt stalled in the round’s dying seconds, but Horiguchi was in control, landing strikes and controlling his opponent.

Horiguchi went with a head kick attack early in round two. The pair continued to throw hands in a very back-and-forth battle. An eye poke then paused the action, though Kape recklessly turned away from his foe before the ref had stepped in. When the action got back underway, Kyoji Horiguchi dropped Kape with a right! Kape escaped, and the pair continued to keep active. Horiguchi then caught Kape with a counter right that again knocked him down, but he once again recovered. Bizarrely, Kape raised his hand in celebration at the end of the round.

Round thee saw Horiguchi drop Kape once again. Again it was with a right hand. And again, Kape recovered and carried on. A head butt then dropped Horiguchi. After a brief pause to allow him to recover, Kape went on the attack, opening up a cut on Horiguchi. A single leg takedown got the Japanese fighter out of danger, however. He was able to gain mount, and land a number of short punches to the head of Kape. That set up the finish. Horiguchi set up an arm triangle choke, earning the tap with less than a minute remaining.

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Manel Kape by submission (arm triangle choke), Round 3, 4:28

Takafumi Otsuka vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari

Otsuka landed a well timed takedown roughly a minute into the second bantamweight grand prix fight of the evening. When it went back to the feet, he showed how well-rounded he was, dropping Ishiwatari with a stiff punch. Ishiwatari was able to come back and get on top, however. Otsuka tried to ride it out along the ropes, while Shintaro Ishiwatari looked to land punches from above. Otsuka created space with his legs, and it wasn’t til within the last minute that Ishiwatari was able to move into half guard.

Round two saw Ishiwatari rip a three punch combo early. Otsuka looked to answer back, but couldn’t connect. He’d fall back on his wrestling later in the round. Ishiwatari, however, was able to fend him off. The ref then restarted the action back in the middle of the ring. With under a minute to go, however, Otsuka landed a low blow that sent Shintaro Ishiwatari to his knees in pain.

Round three saw Otsuka look for the takedown early. Ishiwatari, however, would escape to his feet. He’d walk down his opponent, but later in the round, Otsuka would go on the attack. He’d corner Ishiwatari, who threw a knee. Otsuka remained unfazed. In the final minute, however, Ishiwatari dropped Otsuka, then launched a soccer kick that landed right on the chest of his fallen foe. Ishiwatari then unloaded blow after blow as Otsuka worked his way back to his feet. He’d survive the round, but lose the fight as Shintaro Ishiwatari captured the decision win.

Shintaro Ishiwatari def. Takafumi Otsuka by unanimous decision

Barring injury, the RIZIN Bantamweight World Grand Prix 2017 finale would feature Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari.

Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Yuta Hamamoto

RIZIN’s flyweight kickboxing action followed the semi-finals of the bantamweight grand prix. Tenshin Nasukawa stalked his opponent early, while Hamamoto stayed light on his feet. Hamamoto attempted a spinning back fist, only to be caught by Nasukawa. Nasukawa then connected with his jab, and in the final minute, scored a knockdown.

Round two saw Nasukawa going to the body frequently. Hamamoto would clinch, but Nasukawa would throw him down. He scored a knockdown with a body shot, and sensing blood in the water, turned it up once the fight resumed. A jumping knee sealed the deal, with Tenshin Nasukawa knocking out Hamamoto!

Tenshin Nasukawa def. Yuta Hamamoto by KO (flying knee), Round 2, 1:58

Mitsuhisa Sunabe vs. Yamato Fujita

Sunabe attacked with leg and high kicks early in the second kickboxing bout of the evening at RIZIN’s NYE show. He stayed active in the first round, while Fujita looked to counter. He was no doubt trying to get Sunabe’s timing down, but needed to address the attack on his lead leg. Fujita did score with some body shots that looked absolutely crushing.

In round two, Fujita continued to attack the body, while mixing in high kicks and combinations. A deadly knee and liver shots put Sunable in serious pain, and Fujita seemed firmly in control. Sunabe started to initiate clinches to escape danger. Later in the round, Fujita would connect with a punch on the ear of Sunabe, who would clinch again. By the break between rounds, Sunable could barely sit down.

Round three didn’t last long, as Yamato Fujita finished Sunable with a left hook to the chin, set up with body shots.

Yamato Fujita def. Mitsuhisa Sunabe by KO, Round 3, 0:38

Rena Kubota vs. Irene Cabello Rivera

The first bout of the women’s super-atomweight grand prix saw Japanese star RENA (accompanied to the ring by a group of lingerie wearing ladies) take on Irene Cabello Rivera. This particular affair started off with a slow feeling out process. Rivera used her jab to create distance, but Kubota switched stances to get inside, and connected. Rivera later tried to jump into guard, but Rena simply held her up. Rivera would next try for a body triangle, but couldn’t hold it. Rena then went to the body, her trademark. Back in the middle, a Rena attack sent Rivera backwards, bouncing off the ropes.

It wasn’t long before Rena had the finish. A counter left rocked Rivera; moments later a multi-punch combo sent her crashing to the mat. A soccer kick didn’t fully connect, but the ref was already on his way in to wave it off! Rena had the win, and was in the final.

Rena Kubota def. Irene Cabello Rivera by TKO, Round 1, 4:35

Maria Oliveira vs. Kanna Asakura

Maria Oliveira pushed the pace early in the second women’s super-atomweight tournament bout at RIZIN’s year-end show. She used her length to keep Kanna Asakira at bay, and easily fended off a takedown attempt early. However, Asakura then hoisted Oliveira up and slammed her down! That led to her trapping the head and landing a number of blows, then moving to mount. She scored a good amount of ground and pound, and was looking for a kimura near the end of the frame. Oliveira would escape back to her feet in the dying seconds of the round, only to eat a soccer kick.

Asakura had the fight back on the ground early in round two, with plenty of time to work. She locked in an arm triangle choke, but thought better of it, and softened Oliveira up with some punches. Moving to mount and pinning her opponent’s arms briefly, she unleashed a flurry of strikes. Try as she might, Oliveira could not buck her off. Asakura then switched to an arm-bar. With legs across the face of Oliveira, and holding on tight, she pulled back on the limb, extending it until Maria Oliveira was forced to tap!

Kanna Asakura def. Maria Oliveira by submission (arm-bar), Round 2, 3:40

Takanori Gomi vs. Yusuke Yachi

Takanori Gomi was in desperate need of a win at the RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 finale. Sadly, it wasn’t to be — but fans were treated to the best Takanori Gomi fight in ages. Yachi immediately went on the attack off the opening bell. A high kick was followed by a barrage of knees. Knee after knee connected clean on Gomi, who somehow survived. Gomi was thrown off balance by a punch and bounced off the ropes, springing up and turning the tide. He unleashed blow after blow, dropping Yachi.

Gomi moved in for the kill, launching some heavy ground and pound, while inadvertently clashing heads with Yachi. Yachi, however, tried to sink in a triangle. Gomi would eventually break free, only to find himself trapped again. He hoisted Yachi up and slammed him down in an attempt to free himself, but couldn’t, and was forced to tap.

Yusuke Yachi def. Takanori Gomi by submission (triangle choke), Round 1, 2:36

Shinju Nozawa-Auclair vs. Chelsea LaGrasse

LaGrasse pressed the action early in this flyweight battle, while Nozawa-Auclair looked to counter. LaGrasse then jumped into guard and pulled her opponent to the ground. Latching on with a triangle, she had to ride out a slam from Auclair. With the triangle still in tight, Auclair used her feet to stomp and kick at the face of LaGrasse. Also tasked with fighting off an arm-bar attempt, she finally broke free, and landed a head kick to LaGrasse as she regained her feet. Auclair then began to unload on her opponent, throwing standing elbows and combinations. Clinching, she then set out to launch knee after knee. Auclair took her down at that point, looking for a sub. She mounted, landed some blows, then grabbed an arm. Despite not having the best grip, and in fact winding up able to use just one hand, Shinju Nozawa-Auclair was able to force the tap!

Shinju Nozawa-Auclair def. Chelsea LaGrasse by submission (arm-bar), Round 1, 4:47

Mirko Filipovic vs. Tsuyoshi Kosaka

The return of Mirko Filipovic, better known as Mirko Cro-Cop, was the final non-tournament fight of the RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final card. Cro-Cop had won the promotion’s open weight tournament a year earlier, and retired. Yet he was lured out of retirement for a few more fights, starting with Japanese vet Tsuyoshi Kosaka.

Cro-Cop vs. Kosaka did not last long. Cro-Cop attacked early, dishing out a blow, but eating one. That seemed to stun him, but he recovered, and connected with a series of right hands along the ropes, essentially while controlling the back. That dropped Kosaka, and the Croatian moved in for the kill. He scored some vicious ground and pound as Kosaka covered up, looking for a way out. The ref took a good look, but allowed the action to continue. Tsuyoshi Kosaka’s corner had seen enough, however, and threw in the towel. A bloodied, swollen Kosaka looked like he’d been hit by a truck after it was all said and done.

Mirko Filipovic def. Tsuyoshi Kosaka by TKO, Round 1, 1:02

Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Yamato Fujita

In the final of RIZIN’s flyweight kickboxing tournament, 19-year old Tenshin Nasukawa attacked the legs early, then quickly scored a knockdown of Yamato Fujita. Fujita was slow to regain his feet, and Nasukawa knocked him down again once he was up — with both knockdowns in little over a minute! And once the action was restarted, another combination came, punctuated with a crushing knee, and Fujita was down and out! Tenshin Nasukawa had captured the flyweight kickboxing tournament crown!

Tenshin Nasukawa def. Yamato Fujita by TKO (three knockdowns), Round 1, 1:27

Rena Kubota vs. Kanna Asakura

In the women’s super-atomweight grand prix final, Rena Kubota and Kanna Asakura took things slow, feeling each other out early on. A minute in, Asakura scored with a takedown. Rena, however, immediately pushed her off. Before long, she was back to her feet. Rena was careful not to rush in wildly, but toward the final minute, Asakura again scored a takedown, and this time took the back. She got both hooks in, and had her flattened out in due course. Rena fought the choke, working to break the hands and turn in, but ultimately went to sleep, unwilling to tap. With that, twenty-year old Kanna Asakura won the RIZIN super-atomweight grand prix!

Kanna Asakura def. Rena Kubota by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 4:34

Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari

The main event of the RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final card saw Kyoji Horiguchi square off against countryman Shintaro Ishiwatari. The bout was the final of the bantamweight grand prix, with each men having won in the semi-finals earlier in the evening.

Horiguchi kept his stance wide and looked light on his feet early in the bantamweight GP final. The pair stayed active, but a low kick by Horiguchi paused the action. Horiguchi stayed aggressive as they restarted, but ate a knee that connected with a crack as it landed. He managed to scoop Ishiwatari up and slam him to the canvas, however. None the worse for the wear, apparently. Working from half guard, Horiguchi struggled to pass or do damage. Ishiwatari gave up the back, however, then rolled over into mount, with Horiguchi landing blow after unanswered blow. Somehow, the underdog Ishiwatari made it back to his feet from his back, eating unprotected shots along the way — then started throwing bombs of his own. Off-balanced and stunned, few landed clean, but what an end to the round!

Horiguchi launched a kick to the body early in round two. Moments later, he connected with a right that dropped Shintaro Ishiwatari! On his way down, he ate a left from Horiguchi, and that was it. With that, Kyoji Horiguchi captured the RIZIN bantamweight grand prix crown!

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Shintaro Ishiwatari by TKO, Round 2, 0:14

RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 Final Results:

Kyoji Horiguchi def. Shintaro Ishiwatari by TKO, Round 2, 0:14 Bantamweight Grand-Prix Final
Kanna Asakura def. Rena Kubota by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 4:34 Women’s Super Atomweight Grand-Prix Final
Tenshin Nasukawa def. Yamato Fujita by TKO (three knockdowns), Round 1, 1:27 Flyweight KB Tournament Final
Mirko Filipovic def. Tsuyoshi Kosaka by TKO, Round 1, 1:02
Shinju Nozawa-Auclair def. Chelsea LaGrasse by submission (arm-bar), Round 1, 4:47
Yusuke Yachi def. Takanori Gomi by submission (triangle choke), Round 1, 2:36
Kanna Asakura def. Maria Oliveira by submission (arm-bar), Round 2, 3:40 Women’s Super Atomweight Grand-Prix Semi-Finals
Rena Kubota def. Irene Cabello Rivera by TKO, Round 1, 4:35Women’s Super Atomweight Grand-Prix Semi-Finals
Yamato Fujita def. Mitsuhisa Sunabe by KO, Round 3, 0:38 Flyweight KB Tournament Semi-Finals
Tenshin Nasukawa def. Yuta Hamamoto by KO (flying knee), Round 2, 1:58 Flyweight KB Tournament Semi-Finals
Shintaro Ishiwatari def. Takafumi Otsuka by unanimous decision Bantamweight Grand-Prix Semi-Finals
Kyoji Horiguchi def. Manel Kape by submission (arm triangle choke), Round 3, 4:28 Bantamweight Grand-Prix Semi-Finals