RIZIN 29 Main and Co-Main Event Breakdown

Takafumi Otsuka def. Khalid Taha, RIZIN FF
Takafumi Otsuka def. Khalid Taha Credit: RIZIN FF

RIZIN Fighting Federation returns to action this Sunday with RIZIN 29, a card filled with exciting MMA fights and even a couple of kickboxing bouts.

Certainly, the heavyweight main event between UFC’s #3-ranked Ciryl Gane taking on the #5 ranked Alexander Volkov is getting the headlines. However, the stakes in Japan are just as high, if not higher, this weekend at RIZIN 29.

After being rescheduled for this Sunday due to the coronavirus pandemic, RIZIN 29 will air on pay-per-view live from Osaka. The co-main event of the evening will feature Takafumi Otsuka (28-18-1) taking on Yamashita Hiroki (8-8). Then, to cap the night off, Yuto Hokamura (13-9-2) will fight Kuya Ito (10-8-1) in the main event for a spot in the Grand Prix Quarterfinals.

Takafumi Otsuka vs. Yamashita Hiroki

Otsuka began his professional fighting career losing by rear-naked choke back in 2006. The path for the Japanese native never eased up as he would also lose his second fight as a pro. Following that adversity, Otsuka went on a 7-fight unbeaten streak (with 1 No Contest result included). As a 2017 RIZIN Bantamweight GP semi-finalist, thanks to that experience, Otsuka is a legitimate player in the RIZIN 2021 Grand Prix.

Otsuka lost a unanimous decision to Ryo Okada at Shooto 2021 Vol.2. Prior to that loss, Otsuka would mostly alternate wins and losses in different organizations. However, with his wrestling skills, the 34-year old Otsuka has rounded his MMA skills out. With the ability to keep the fight where he wants it to stay, he is a definite problem at 134lbs.

Hiroki is known for his fast hands and the shocking power that comes behind the speed. Specifically, the Japanese heavy-handed athlete has five KO/TKOs to his record. Additionally, Hiroki is looking to expand his last win into a streak to cement his name in the RIZIN promotion.

Recently, “Shian” who might want to change his nickname to “27” demonstrated his power with a 27-second left-hook knockout against Kazuma Sone. After Hiroki’s last performance at RIZIN 27, fans are ready to see the swiftness of his technique grace the ring again.

RIZIN 29 Main Event: Yuto Hokamura vs. Kuya Ito

The 24-year old Ito is young but has been fighting since 2013. Nearing a decade of combat experience at such a young age will pay dividends as the Japanese native continues to carve out his combat sports career.

The 5 foot 5 bantamweight will look to build on his previous win against Hiroki Yamashita last September. It is always a treat to see a professional fighter come back from the jaws of defeat, and Ito is definitely familiar with that sensation. In particular, Ito lost his first four professional fights and then picked up a majority draw before tasting the sweetness of victory.

Despite Rough Beginnings, Ito Is Ready For RIZIN 29 Showcase

Having gone 0-4 in a 4-year stretch just highlights the bulletproof mentality and of course, Ito’s commitment to MMA. With a new lease on his career and much more consistency, the Japanese native has a huge opportunity to seize at RIZIN 29 this Sunday.

Hokamura is well-known in the world of Asian MMA. With a solid foundation in kickboxing, Hokamura’s foray into MMA was less rocky than Ito’s initial start. Even though the 28-year old Japanese native lost his last fight in the promotion by split decision, his record isn’t an accurate reflection of the skillset he brings into the ring. Prior to his loss to Kenta Takizawa, Hokamura delivered at the RIZIN 21 show against Kenji Kato–and he did so in style.

With a chance to make a statement against Ito, there will be a lot of attention on this fight as most understand how consequential it is to the tournament. Despite momentum being different in each corner, Ito is not looking past Hokamura. Either way, fans will find out which fighters advance to the quarter-finals of the 2021 RIZIN Bantamweight GP come Sunday.