RIZIN 2021 Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix Match-Up Drawing Live Stream


RIZIN Fighting Federation kicked off its 2021 with RIZIN 27 this past Sunday. Hot on the heels of that successful event, which saw Ayaka Hamasaki defend her super atomweight title, the promotion is ready for more. On Thursday, the Japanese organization confirmed a 16-man bantamweight grand prix, with a live match-up drawing planned for the following day, as well as a press conference.

The tournament was officially announced during the RIZIN 27 card, with promotion president Nobuyuki Sakakibara unveiling Kai Asakura as the first entrant. That leaves 15 more slots to fill — but who will join the former champ?

Kyoji Horiguchi, the promotion’s current bantamweight champion, and former (simultaneous with RIZIN) Bellator 135lb champ, is likely to be involved in some manner. Whether that’s fighting in the tournament, or meeting the winner, remains to be seen. Horiguchi was forced to drop both his titles in 2019 due to a knee injury. He returned to the cage this past December, knocking out Asakura to reclaim his belt. Horiguchi has yet to return to Bellator, but an appearance there is likely at some point.

Ulka Sasaki and Naoki Inoue, both former UFC fighters, would seem like a good fit for the grand prix as well. As would former featherweight and bantamweight Shooto champ Hiromasa Ougikubo. With RIZIN working closely with Bellator MMA as well, could some of their fighters cross over?

Tune in Friday, March 26 at 3AM ET to watch the grand prix drawing and press conference unfold!


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