Initial RIZIN 17 Bouts Announced As Promotion Teases Lightweight Grand Prix

Yusuke Yachi
Luiz Gustavo vs. Yusuke Yachi Credit: RIZIN FF

RIZIN 17 is set for Saitama, Japan, just outside Tokyo this July, with a potential qualifying bout for the promotion’s upcoming lightweight grand prix announced.

The Grand Prix business is in full swing once again in MMA. With both Bellator and ONE Championship boasting ongoing grand prix tournaments, RIZIN Fighting Federation has teased an upcoming lightweight grand prix of their own. Of course, the grand prix format has a long history in RIZIN (and PRIDE before that), so this really comes as no surprise. Hints at the grand prix were dropped in a press release this week announcing several fights for RIZIN 17.

Among the bouts announced, Mikuru Asakura (10-1) will face Yusuke Yachi (20-8) in a fight said to be “a potential qualifying bout for the Light weight GP which is rumored to take place later in the year.” However, Asakura, for one, doesn’t sound interested in entering the tournament. Instead, he called for the promotion to put together a featherweight grand prix.

Credit: RIZIN FF

“I have nothing to gain from this fight. I’m a featherweight and he’s a lightweight. I asked if he would do a catchweight but he refused,” Asakura was quoted as saying via press release. “So f*ck it, I’ll fight him at his weight. But if I win, I’m not fighting in the lightweight GP. I want a featherweight GP. And also I want main event at the Saitama Super Arena.”

RIZIN officials also announced a pair of bantamweight bouts for the card. Pancrase Champion Shintaro Ishiwatari (25-7-4) will meet ex-Shooto and UFC fighter Ulka Sasaki (22-6-2). And former DEEP Champion Yuki Motoya (23-6) will take on TUF 24 runner up and current Shooto Champion Hiromasa Ogikubo (18-4-2).

RIZIN 17 is set to go down at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on July 28.