Japanese MMA makes a return in a big way on May 6 with RIZIN 10, and it’s headlined by two of the flyweight division’s best in the UFC or otherwise not named Demetrious Johnson.
We’ll get to Horiguchi vs. McCall towards the end (which is actually a bantamweight battle), but who else is on the card? Why exactly should you watch? Don’t you find yourself asking that question sometimes? ‘Why am I watching this?”
Each fight in RIZIN is about pure entertainment value — that’s the premise. Who’ll deliver the best fight on the card? Could be that 1-3 fighter you’re sleeping on. In RIZIN, you never really know who’s going to stand out, but someone will blow you away. Stomps and kicks to grounded opponents are like sprinkles on top of Japanese MMA’s ice cream.
Let’s dig a bit deeper:
Viewers will stay for Ian McCall vs. Kyoji Horiguchi, and we’ll get to that in a second, but who else should you even pay attention to? We’ll give you a few things to look forward to on the RIZIN 10 card.
Tenshin Nasukawa, or simply ‘Tenshin’
Tenshin Nasukawa is the 19-year-old fighter that RIZIN is pushing to the moon at the moment. The hope is that he will single-handedly revive Japanese MMA in a few years, with his incredible offensive kickboxing skillset that nobody can adequately prepare for. Not only that, he’s a charismatic babyface that demands to be embraced by the public.
The first time Tenshin fought in RIZIN (or in MMA period) back on December 29, 2016, he dusted his opponent, Nikita Sapun, in the very first round with crisp strikes. He then cut a promo demanding that he be allowed to fight just two days later, after he learned another fighter had withdrawn from a scheduled bout with Dylan Kawika Oligo.
Just two days into his MMA career, Tenshin had already amassed a 2-0 record by defeating Oligo via submission. In the next year he would go on to defeat Francesco Ghigliotti by knockout and Yamato Fujita by decision:
RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2017: FINAL ROUND:Final do GP peso-mosca:Tenshin Nasukawa derrotou Yamato Fujita por nocaute no 1R pic.twitter.com/Qu6YjutIYj
— PANCADANTE (@pancadante) December 31, 2017
Nasukawa is now 4-0 in his MMA career, and all of his mixed martial arts fights have taken place at RIZIN events in Japan. That’s only part of the fun. Because that’s ONLY his MMA record. In kickboxing, Tenshin is an undefeated phenom at 25-0. Nasukawa has recorded 20 knockouts in kickboxing to date – HE’S 19!
This Sunday Yasuku Nakamura will have the displeasure of fighting Tenshin in the co-main event slot under kickboxing rules. Nakamura has the proverbial puncher’s chance in this contest.
If you want to learn more about Tenshin, look no further, but do turn the subtitles on:
Manel Kape vs. Kai Asukara
Manel Kape’s greatest accomplishment was arguably making it to the semi-finals of the Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix and going 14:18 with Kyoji Horiguchi, but just two days before he did what many would have considered impossible: defeated Ian McCall to earn the opportunity to even face Horiguchi.
We’re not buying into Ian McCall’s bad luck spell mumbo jumbo – but he sure was unlucky in the quarterfinal round against Kape.
For some background, the Kape vs. McCall fight became heavily anticipated after Kape and McCall’s pre-fight antics set the stage for an emotional slugfest:
— Joe Ferraro (@ShowdownJoe) December 28, 2017
We didn’t ever get that though, because McCall cut his head against the ring ropes in the opening seconds of the fight – rendering him too injured to continue. Therefore Kape won the fight via TKO due to Doctor’s Stoppage.
— Punch-Drunk Pauly (@punchdrunkpauly) December 29, 2017
In the tweet above, you can see McCall’s forehead being torn apart by the second rope. We were robbed of that fight.
Kape then taunted the tournament-favorite and Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi, which made him all the more unlikeable. Horiguchi slowly but surely defeated Kape when they met, as Manel ultimately succumbed to an arm triangle choke in the third round of their fight.
Manel Kape’s quite the character — you want to cheer him against certain fighters and boo him against the rest, but you definitely want him to have a successful career no matter what. It’s not exactly clear where his skill level is at, but we’d have a better idea if the fight with McCall played out a bit further. We know he’s not ‘UFC level,’ at least not yet – but he’s only 24, and his MMA record sits at 9-2.
Kape will fight Japan’s Kai Asukara on Sunday, who boasts a 9-1 record of his own.
Asukara’s as likeable as they come — he always brings a crew of around 200 close friends to watch him fight and he’s open to fights with anybody. Like Tenshin – Asukara is known for cutting promos and playing to the crowd after his fights, often asking who they’d like to see him face off against next.
RIZIN put together these ‘RIZIN Confessions’ video packages to help you get to know the fighters better, and Kai Asukara’s episode is excellent, but again, turn on the subtitles (unless you’re fluent in Japanese, in which case, sugoi!)
Stomps and Soccer Kicks!
That’s right – it’s all legal in Japan, in the MMA bouts at least. While such a strike in the UFC or Bellator would render the fight over via an illegal strike, RIZIN allows the use of stomps and soccer kicks to grounded opponents. That makes for some exciting action that wouldn’t be possible in many organizations outside of RIZIN; it’s a treat.
Ian McCall vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Even though Ian McCall hasn’t won many of his MMA bouts since 2012, he still likely possesses the skills to finish any bantamweight in the world. After all, he nearly finished Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson just six years ago – and Mighty Mouse looks untouchable now.
This is really Horiguchi’s fight to lose, as he’s riding an eight-fight win streak all the way over from the top end of the UFC bantamweight competition. When he left the UFC, he chose the leave — he didn’t get cut like most fighters do. The last time we saw Horiguchi he finished two fighters in one night, Manel Kape, and Shintaro Ishiwatari, by submission and knockout respectively, to win the 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix and the RIZIN Bantamweight Championship.
Is Ian McCall the same fighter that took Demetrious Johnson the distance in early 2012? Or will Ian McCall be easily handled by what we know is an elite bantamweight in Kyoji Horiguchi?
That’s the big question.
The RIZIN 10 Card Streams in North America on RIZINFF.COM on Sunday May 6 @ 1:30 a.m. EST.
Full RIZIN 10 Card:
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Ian McCall 134 lbs
Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Yusaku Nakamura 128 lbs
Kanna Asakura vs. M. Karagianis108 lbs
Yusuke Yachi vs. Diego Nunes 154 lbs
Daron Cruickshank vs. Koshi Matsumoto 154 lbs
Issei Ishii vs. Daishin Sakai 114 lbs
Kai Asakura vs. Manel Kape 130 lbs
Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Alyssa Garcia 108 lbs
Ante Delija vs. Ricardo Prasel 265 lbs
- Rozenstruik vs. Andrey Kovalev 265 lbs
Kanako Murata vs. Lanchana Green 119 lbs
Hironori Kurogi vs. Tomohiro Kitai 139 lbs