Japan’s RIZIN Fighting Federation is the next MMA promotion to get back underway. Following the return of the UFC, Invicta FC, and commitments from LFA, KSW, and ONE Championship to follow suit, RIZIN has announced a pair of shows. Those will come in RIZIN 22 and RIZIN 23, on August 9 and August 10, respectively.
Promotion officials announced the news in a press release Thursday, following an announcement via live stream earlier in the week.
Both cards will take place at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama, in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. With fans, albeit it 50% capacity.
Japan, which has fared relatively well during the coronavirus pandemic, recently eased restrictions on mass gatherings. Indoor events were recently given the green light to have up to 5,000 spectators present.
Among the standout bouts announced, Hiromasa Ougikubo (20-4-2) vs. Kai Asakura (14-2) is set to top the RIZIN 23 card, with the promotion’s vacant bantamweight title on the line. Asakura battled Manel Kape for the vacant title in December at RIZIN 20, in the wake of Kyoji Horiguchi relinquishing the belt due to injury. Kape picked up the TKO win, but recently signed with the UFC.
Ougikubo was a runner up on TUF 24, losing to Tim Elliott in the finale. Elliott would then face Demetrious Johnson, as the season’s prize was not just a UFC contract, but a title shot. Despite Ougikubo’s success on the show, he was not given a UFC deal.
A day earlier, at RIZIN 22, Naoki Inoue (13-2) will face off with Shooto Watanabe (20-4-6, 1NC). Inoue is a UFC vet who went 1-1 inside the octagon, following a 10-fight win streak in Deep. Since leaving the UFC, he’s 2-1, most recently defeating Trent Girdham at RIZIN 21.
Watanabe has not lost in MMA since 2017.
Yusuke Yachi, Kanna Asakura, Yuki Motoya, and others were also announced for the cards. More fights are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. A list of the cards as announced to date is below.
Naoki Inoue vs Shooto Watanabe
Tetsuya Seki vs Yojiro Uchimura
Kanna Asakura vs Mizuki Furuse
Yusuke Yachi vs Roberto Satoshi Souza
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Kai Asakura
Seiichirio Ito vs Makoto Takahashi
Yuki Motoya vs Mamoru Uoi
Yutaka Saito vs Kazumasa Majima