Category Archives: Rizin FF

RIZIN Adds “Krazy Horse” vs. Kimura To Sept. 25 Grand Prix Event

K-1 kickboxing star Minoru Kimura (pictured) will make his MMA rules debut against Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett at the highly-anticipated RIZIN FF World Grand Prix 2016: Opening Round event in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, Sept. 25.  Photo courtesy of (C)M-1 Sports Media.

RIZIN FF:  
CHARLES “KRAZY HORSE” BENNETT
RETURNS TO JAPAN, WILL FACE MINORU KIMURA
IN MMA ACTION IN TOKYO ON SEPTEMBER 25

TOKYO – August 18, 2016 – RIZIN FF, the combat sports federation headed by former PRIDE Fighting Championships boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced today the addition of a featherweight (145 pounds) Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) matchup between former PRIDE FC and EliteXC star Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett (29-30-2) and K-1 kickboxing KO artist Minoru Kimura (MMA: 0-0, Kickboxing: 21-6-1, 15 KO’s) to the federation’s already stacked Grand Prix event in Tokyo on Sunday, Sept. 25.

A 17-year veteran of the sport with an aggressive, crowd-pleasing style of fighting, the 5-foot-8, 36-year-old Bennett of Ocala, Fla. put himself on the map 16 years ago with a first round (1:55) KO (punch) of Yoshiro Maeda at PRIDE Bushido 7 in Tokyo on May 22, 2005.

Bennett’s biggest mark in the sport to date was arguably his one-punch, first round (3:43), upset KO of former UFC and Strikeforce star K.J. Noons, who went into the matchup a heavy favorite over Bennett. The high-profile bout took place at EliteXC: Destiny, the first-ever, live SHOWTIME televised event in MMA history.

Bennett is coming off a spectacular, 43 second submission (heel hook) of Paul Rodriguez in Kissimmee, Fla. on May 14.


 Above: Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett will make his return to Japan and debut for RIZIN FF on September 25

Ranked as high as number two in the world in kickboxing’s featherweight division as of the close of 2015, the 5-foot-8, 22-year-old Kimura, who permanently relocated to Japan at the age of three, after being born in Curitiba, Brazil to a fourth generation, Brazilian-Japanese mother and a Brazilian-Italian father, will make his debut under MMA rules.

The feisty Fighting Kairos Gym competitor who has captivated fight fans with his raucous behavior, has defeated a number of noteworthy adversaries in the kickboxing ring, includingKaew Fairtex as well as Japanese stars Hideaki Yamazaki and Masaaki Noiri, to reach elite status in the sport.

In his last start, Kimura picked up a unanimous decision victory over “Noman” in a K-1 World Grand Prix tournament reserve bout on June 24.

The RIZIN FF event will be headlined by the kick-off of the much-anticipated, 16-man open weight tournament.

MMA legends Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (MMA: 31-11-1, 1 NC; Kickboxing: 23-8, 12 KO’s) and Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) are amongst the nine competitors that have been announced as tournament participants.  The tournament’s first stage matchups will be announced soon.

RIZIN FF World Grand Prix 2016: Opening Round

Updated Fight Card

Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Kazuyuki Fujita vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Baruto Kaito vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Jiri Prochazka vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Teodorasu Aukstuolis vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Karl Albrektsson vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Valentine Moldavski vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Amir Aliakbari vs. TBA
Lightweight: Daron Cruickshank vs. Andy Souwer
Heavyweight: Gabi Garcia vs. Destanie Yarbrough
Strawweight:  Kanako Murata vs. Kyra Batara
Weight TBD:  Rena Kubota vs. Miyuu Yamamoto
Weight TBD: Asen Yamamoto vs. Kizaemon Saiga
Featherweight: Charles Bennett vs. Minoru Kimura

Follow RIZIN FF:

Website – http://www.rizinff.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rizinfightingfederation/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rizin_PR

RIZIN FF ANNOUNCES MATCHUPS FOR THREE STAR-STUDDED WOMEN’S MMA BOUTS AT GRAND PRIX EVENT IN TOKYO, SEPTEMBER 25

Pictured (from left to right): RIZIN FF stars Miyuu Yamamoto, Rena Kubota and Kanako Murata were on hand at a press conference in Japan today to discuss their matchups at the highly-anticipated RIZIN FF event in Tokyo, Japan on Sunday, Sept. 25.  Yamamoto will square off with Kubota, while Murata will face off with Combate Americas star Kyra Batara.

Heavyweight: Gabi Garcia vs. Destanie Yarbrough
Strawweight: Kanako Murata vs. Kyra Batara
Rena Kubota vs. Miyuu Yamamoto

Plus: Five fighters added to the 16-man, open weight tournament that kicks off at the September extravaganza

TOKYO – August 16, 2016 – RIZIN FF, the combat sports federation headed by former PRIDE Fighting Championships boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, today revealed at a press conference the matchups for the three women’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bouts slated for the highly-anticipated Grand Prix event in Tokyo on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Facing off with previously announced, undefeated MMA rising star and ninth degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Gabi Garcia (2-0) will be fellow unbeaten prospect and professional football standout Destanie Yarbrough (1-0).

Three-time junior Olympic wrestling medalist and undefeated MMA upstart Kanako Murata (3-0) will square off with Combate Americas MMA star Kyra “Mogwai” Batara (5-3) in a strawweight (115 pounds) contest.

Renowned shoot boxing champion Rena Kubota (1-0) will make her second start under MMA rules against famed women’s freestyle wrestling pioneer Miyuu Yamamoto (0-0), who will make her long-awaited MMA debut on the same card as her son, Asen Yamamoto (0-1).  The weight limit of the Kubota-Yamamoto matchup will be announced soon.

In addition, it was announced that five new fighters – heavyweights Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (17-3-1) of the Czech Republic and Amir Aliakbari (2-0) of Iran, and light heavyweights Teodorasu Aukstuolis (9-3) of Lithuania,“King” Karl Albrektsson (5-0) of Sweden and Valentine Moldavski (3-0) of Russia – have all been added to the much-anticipated, 16-man open weight tournament that will kick off and headline the September 25 event.

The five fighters join previously announced MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (MMA: 31-11-1, 1 NC; Kickboxing: 23-8, 12 KO’s), fellow PRIDE FC veteran and combat sports fan favorite Kazuyuki Fujita (15-11) and former sumo wrestling champion Baruto Kaito (1-0) in the multi-event, single-elimination affair.

The tournament’s first stage matchups will be announced soon.

Gabi Garcia vs. Destanie Yarbrough

The 6-foot-2, 30-year-old Garcia of Porto Alege, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil will look for her third consecutive MMA victory following her second round (2:04) submission (armbar) of Anna Malyukova at the RIZIN FF extravaganza onApril 17.

Yarbrough of Fresno, Calif. is a 5-foot-7, 28-year-old running back for the Women’s Football Alliance squad, the Central Cal War Angels, which finished its 2016 season with a perfect, 7-0 record.  The stocky powerhouse led the league last season in both touchdowns and rushing yards.

A lifelong athlete, Yarbrough made an explosive, professional MMA debut onApril 1, scoring a 33-second TKO (doctor stoppage) on Crystal Parson.


Caption: Combate Americas MMA star Kyra Batara (above) will make her RIZIN FF debut against Kanako Murata

Kanako Murata vs. Kyra Batara

The 5-foot-1, 23-year-old Murata of Ehime, Japan will make her debut at strawweight following three consecutive wins, the last two of which came by way of TKO (punches), in flyweight (125 pounds) contests.

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev., the 4-foot-11, 21-year-old Batara, who typically fights in the atomweight (105 pounds) division, is riding a three-fight win streak under the promotion of U.S. Hispanic MMA franchise, Combate Americas.

In her last start, Batara finished Jenny “The Phoenix” Silverio in unprecedented fashion – a ground and pound version of Eddie Bravo’s patented “twister” – that earned Batara, a protégé of Bravo, a TKO in the second round (4:13) of battle.

Rena Kubota vs. Miyuu Yamamoto

The 5-foot-3, 25-year-old Kubota of Osaka, Japan is a three-time shoot boxing tournament champion who boasts a stellar, career kickboxing record of 25-5-1 (6 KO’s).

Kubota made her much-anticipated MMA rules debut at the inaugural RIZIN FF event on December 31, submitting Jleana Valentino with a brilliantly executed flying armbar in the second round (3:31) of action.

The daughter of Olympic wrestler Ikuei Yamamoto and elder sister of MMA superstar and 2005 K-1 HERO’s Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, the 5-foot-1, 42-year-old Miyuu of Kanagawa, Japan will enter a new chapter in her career and family legacy when she steps in the RIZIN FF squared circle for the first time.

Miyuu earned her first national wrestling championship when she was 13 years old, and subsequently defended it four straight years.  At age 17, she became the youngest world champion in history.

Miyuu’s son, Asen, will collide with Kizaemon Saiga (2-1) of Sakai, Japan at a weight to be determined.

RIZIN FF World Grand Prix 2016: Opening Round

Updated Fight Card

Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Kazuyuki Fujita vs. TBA
Open Weight Tournament Bout:  Baruto Kaito vs. TBA
Lightweight: Daron Cruickshank vs. Andy Souwer
Heavyweight: Gabi Garcia vs. Destanie Yarbrough
Strawweight:  Kanako Murata vs. Kyra Batara
Weight TBD:  Rena Kubota vs. Miyuu Yamamoto
Weight TBD: Asen Yamamoto vs. Kizaemon Saiga

Follow RIZIN FF:

Website – http://www.rizinff.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rizinfightingfederation/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rizin_PR

RIZIN FF: MIRKO CRO COP EMERGES FROM RETIREMENT FOR 16-MAN, OPEN WEIGHT TOURNAMENT KICKING OFF IN TOKYO ON SEPTEMBER 25!

WANDERLEI SILVA, KAZUYUKI FUJITA, AND BARUTO KAITO
ALL TABBED FOR ACTION IN MULTI-STAGE TOURNAMENT

PLUS:
DARON CRUICKSHANK FACES ANDY SOUWER,
AND GABI GARCIA AND KANAKO MURATA RETURN TO ACTION

TOKYO – July 16, 2016 – RIZIN FF, the combat sports federation headed by former PRIDE Fighting Championships boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced at a press conference today that all-time great Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (MMA: 31-11-1, 1 NC; Kickboxing: 23-8, 12 KO’s) will come out of retirement and return to Japan, where his legendary career was born, to compete in the highly-anticipated, 16-man, open weight “Grand Prix” tournament that begins in Tokyo on Sunday, Sept. 25.

A former PRIDE and K-1 Grand Prix tournament champion, Filipovic earned his place as one of the greatest martial arts combatants in history with an elite set of striking skills that helped him earn the most first round finishes as well as the most head kick knockouts in PRIDE history.

It was also announced today that 4 of the 16 Grand Prix participants, including superstar Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) of Curitiba, Parana, Brazil, will receive a bye in the first stage, and automatically advance to the tournament’s second, or quarterfinal stage, which will take place at a location to be announced on Thursday, Dec. 29.

Joining Sakakibara, Filipovic and Silva at the press conference were veteran warhorse Kazuyiki Fujita (15-11) of Funabashi, Chiba, Japan and former sumo wrestling champion turned MMA upstart Baruto Kaito (1-0) of Estonia, both of whom have been tabbed for battle in the first stage of the tournament.

The round of 16 matchups will be announced at the end of July.

In other, single-fight action on September 25, two striking sensations – Daron Cruickshank (17-8, 1 NC) and Andy Souwer (MMA: 1-0, Kickboxing: 159-19, 98 KO’s) – will collide in a lightweight (155) affair.

Cruickshank of Wayne, Mich. is a 13-fight veteran of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) who made a successful RIZIN FF debut on April 17, scoring a first round (4:36) TKO with a series of kicks on a downed Shinji Sasaki.

A longtime kickboxing icon, Souwer of Den Bosch, Netherlands, is a two-time winner of the K-1 World Max tournament and a four-time Shootboxing world champion.  On December 31, 2015, he made his long-awaited MMA rules debut at the inaugural RIZIN FF event in Saitama, Japan, decimatingYuichiro “Jienotsu” Nagashima by way of first round (5:29) KO with an onslaught of punches.

Unbeaten women’s light heavyweight and nine-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Gabi Garcia (2-0) and three-time junior Olympic wrestling medalist and undefeated flyweight (125 pounds) MMA star Kanako Murata (3-0) of Ehime, Japan will each see action against an opponent to be announced soon.

Garcia of Porto Alege, Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil made quick work of both of her MMA opponents to date, scoring a first round (2:36) TKO (punches) in her professional debut on Lei’d Tapa at the RIZIN FF promotional kick-off event on December 31, and submitting Anna Malyukova with an armbar in the second round (2:04) of battle at the RIZIN FF affair on April 17.

Just 22 years of age, Murata made her professional MMA debut under the promotion of RIZIN FF on April 17, notching a unanimous decision overNatalia Denisova, and has since already competed twice more, defeatingMaia Kahaunaele-Stevenson via third round (3:43) TKO (punches) andIlona Wijmans by way of first round (1:17) TKO (punches), on June 4 and July 7, respectively.

Kizaemon Saiga (2-1) of Sakai, Osaka, Japan will take on fellow upstartAsen Yamamoto at a weight to be determined.

Women’s shoot boxing champion and unbeaten MMA competitor Rena Kubota (1-0) of Osaka, Japan will make her second start under MMA rules against an opponent to be announced.

Follow RIZIN FF:

Website – http://www.rizinff.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rizinfightingfederation/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rizin_PR

RIZIN FF ANNOUNCES LEGENDARY MMA PIONEER KIYOSHI TAMURA AS WANDERLEI SILVA TAG TEAM PARTNER FOR APRIL 17 MAIN EVENT IN NAGOYA, JAPAN

TOKYO – April 4, 2016– RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced today that legendary Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) pioneer and former professional wrestling standout Kiyoshi Tamura (32-13-3), will join forces with fellow decorated icon Wanderlei Silva(35-12-1, 1 NC) in the special grappling tag team matchup that will headline the highly-anticipated, star-studded extravaganza in Nagoya Japan, on Sunday, April 17.

Tamura and Silva will tussle with another all-time great Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2) in the unique, one-of-a-kind bout.

The affair marks the first time since December 31, 2008 that the 5-foot-11, 46-year-old Tamura, recognized for his elite level catch wrestling skills and quick, fluid movements, will see action in combat.

In his last start under MMA rules on the K-1 – Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve mega-card in Saitama, Japan, Tamura earned his third consecutive win, a unanimous decision over Sakuraba.

While competing for the likes of PRIDE, K-1, Rings, DREAM and UWF International, Tamura compiled an extensive resume of conquests, including those over eventual UFC champions Pat Miletich, Maurice Smith and Dave Menne, as well as superstars Renzo Gracie and Jeremy Horn.

Tamura was groomed by famed pro wrestling trainers Billy Robinson,Nobuhiko Takada and Akira Maeda, to eventually become a force in the sport’s middleweight division.  In his final bout before retirement, Tamura notched a victory over fellow hybrid MMA star and professional wrestler Josh Barnett, on November 23, 2005.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” are on sale and can be purchased online at Ticketbis.com.

In other action on the star-studded fight card, 13-fight UFC veteran and action fighter Daron Cruickshank (16-8, 1 NC) will collide with submission expertShinji “Torao Supernova” Sasaki (16-8-3) in a lightweight (155 pounds) matchup.

In a women’s open weight bout, decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and women’s MMA heavyweight prospect Gabi Garcia (1-0) will collide with two-time Pankration champion Anna Malyukova (1-0).

Hard-hitting knockout artists Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (14-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4) will go to war in a heavyweight battle.

Recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament semifinalist Teodoras Aukstuolis (8-3) will square off with former K-1 champion Jaideep “Heart” Singh (2-1 MMA; 40-10, 13 KO’s kickboxing) in a 216- pound catchweight fight.

Sambo world champion Vadim Nemkov (5-1) will take on undefeated, aggressive-minded striker and top Nordic prospect “King” Karl Albrektsson (4-0) in a light heavyweight (205 pounds) tilt.

In a 180-pound MMA rules catchweight contest, devastating power puncherHisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

Returning to action for the first time in five years, beloved heavyweight Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), will face recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (16-3-1).

In flyweight (125 pounds) action, submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) will lock horns with red-hot champion Yuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).

Women’s amateur wrestling champion Kanako Murata (0-0) will make her highly-anticipated, professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut against rising starNatalya Denisova (2-1) in a 116-pound catchweight affair.

Follow RIZIN FF:

Website – http://www.rizinff.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rizinfightingfederation/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rizin_PR

RIZIN FF: WOMEN’S WRESTLING PHENOM KANAKO MURATA MAKES MMA DEBUT AGAINST RISING STAR NATALYA DENISOVA SUNDAY APRIL 17 IN NAGOYA, JAPAN

Women’s amateur wrestling superstar Kanako Murata (pictured) will make her much-anticipated professional MMA debut against Russian rising star Natalya Denisova at the star-studded RIZIN FF event in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17.

TOKYO – March 29, 2016– RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced that famed women’s amateur wrestling champion Kanako Murata (0-0) will make her highly-anticipated, professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) debut against rising star Natalya Denisova (2-1) in a 116-pound catchweight affair at the “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” extravaganza at Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17.

The 5-foot-1, 22-year-old Murata of Ehime, Japan will compete under MMA rules for the first time after amassing a collection of accolades as an amateur wrestler, including three junior Olympic medals.

Murata’s most impressive achievement came in 2011 when she nearly defeated three-time Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida during the All-Japan championships.

An MMA student since 2015, Murata has been training under the command of DEEP Featherweight Champion Kazunori Yokota and former DREAM competitor Takeshi Yamazaki, and has been sparring predominantly with male fighters.

Denisova of Cheboksary, Russia will seek her third consecutive win in what will mark her first appearance under the RIZIN FF banner.  In her last start onSeptember 26, she utilized her sharp, aggressive striking arsenal to finish Marina Lvova in the second round (:32) of battle with a barrage of punches.

The 25-year-old Denisova gained worldwide recognition for the first time four years ago after video surfaced of her defeating a male opponent in an MMA bout.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” are on sale and can be purchased online at Ticketbis.com.

In the main event, former PRIDE FC middleweight champion and prolific superstar Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) will team up with a fighter to be announced soon, in a special grappling “tag match,” and battle a duo consisting of fellow legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

Prolific striker and 13-fight UFC veteran Daron Cruickshank (16-8, 1 NC) will collide with submission expert Shinji “Torao Supernova” Sasaki (16-8-3) in a lightweight (155 pounds) matchup.

Hard-hitting knockout artists Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (14-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4) will go to war in a heavyweight battle.

In women’s open weight action, decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and women’s MMA heavyweight prospect Gabi Garcia (1-0) will collide with two-time Pankration champion Anna Malyukova (1-0).

Recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament semifinalist Teodoras Aukstuolis (8-3) will square off with former K-1 champion Jaideep “Heart” Singh (2-1 MMA; 40-10, 13 KO’s kickboxing) in a 216- pound catchweight fight.

Sambo world champion Vadim Nemkov (5-1) will take on undefeated, aggressive-minded striker and top Nordic prospect “King” Karl Albrektsson (4-0) in a light heavyweight (205 pounds) tilt.

In a 180-pound MMA rules catchweight contest, devastating power puncherHisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

Returning to action for the first time in five years, beloved heavyweight Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), will face recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (16-3-1).

In flyweight (125 pounds) action, submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) will lock horns with red-hot champion Yuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).

Follow RIZIN FF:

Website – http://www.rizinff.com/en/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rizinfightingfederation/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/rizin_PR

RIZIN FF SIGNS DARON CRUICKSHANK AND “HUGGY BEAR,” ANNOUNCES FIVE NEW, STAR-STUDDED MMA BOUTS FOR APRIL 17 MEGA-EVENT IN NAGOYA, JAPAN

Lightweight sensation Daron Cruickshank (pictured) has signed with RIZIN FF, and will make his promotional debut on Sunday, April 17.

Cruickshank takes on Shinji Sasaki in lightweight contest;
Huggy Bear faces Kirill Sidelnikov in heavyweight showdown

Plus:
Women’s Open Weight: Gabi Garcia vs. Anna Malyukova
216 Pound Catchweight: Teodoras Aukstuolis vs. Jaideep Singh
Light Heavyweight: Vadim Nemkov vs. Karl Albrektsson
TOKYO – March 24, 2016– RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced during a press conference today, that it has inked five  new, star-studded Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bouts for its much-anticipated mega-event in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17, including a lightweight (155 pounds) contest between newly signed striking sensationDaron Cruickshank (16-8, 1 NC) and submission expert Shinji “Torao Supernova” Sasaki (16-8-3), as well as a heavyweight matchup between fellow knockout artists Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (14-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4)

In women’s open weight action, decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and women’s MMA heavyweight prospect Gabi Garcia (1-0) will collide with two-time Pankration champion Anna Malyukova (1-0).

Recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament semifinalist Teodoras Aukstuolis (8-3) will square off with former K-1 champion Jaideep “Heart” Singh (2-1 MMA; 40-10, 13 KO’s kickboxing) in a 216- pound catchweight fight.

Sambo world champion Vadim Nemkov (5-1) will take on undefeated, aggressive-minded striker and top Nordic prospect “King” Karl Albrektsson (4-0) in a light heavyweight (205 pounds) tilt.

Daron Cruickshank vs. Shinji Sasaki

Cruickshank of Wayne, Mich. will set foot in the RIZIN FF ring for the first time, following a 4-year, 13-fight stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that included wins over rival stars Yves Edwards, Erik Koch and Anthony Njokuani.

A two-time NCAA Division III wrestling national qualifier for Olivet College and a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, the 5-foot-8, 30-year-old Cruickshank has gained admiration from fans worldwide with his set of explosive striking skills.

Sasaki of Hiroshima, Japan is a former Shooto Pacific Rim champion in the midst of a three-fight win streak.  In his last start on March 12, the 5-foot-9, 35-year-old who has earned 10 of his 16 career wins by way of submission, scored a thunderous, 40-second TKO on Won Sik Park with a storm of punches.

(Above: Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett, clad in his signature, full-body bear suit, stands behind MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko (left) and Wanderlei Silva (right) at a press conference in Japan before Barnett’s first round TKO victory over Shinichi Suzukawa on New Year’s Eve 2014)

Chris Barnett vs. Kirill Sidelnikov

With heavy hands, incredible agility for his massive physique and an eccentric personality that spawned his “Huggy Bear” moniker, Barnett of Tampa, Fla., has been making noise in the MMA world of late.

The 5-foot-9, 29-year-old who makes his ring entrances wearing a full-body bear suit and celebrates his victories by performing breakdance moves and cartwheels in the ring, has earned 12 of his 14 career wins to date by way of (T)KO.  In his last start, he scored a first round TKO (punches) on Shinichi Suzukawa, in Tokyo onDecember 31

Sidelnikov of Stary Oskol, Russia is a 5-foot-11, 27-year-old former protégé of all-time MMA great Fedor Emelianenko.  On December 29, he made his return to the ring after a five-year hiatus, scoring a devastating, first round (2:23) TKO (punches) on Carlos Toyota at the inaugural RIZIN FF event in Saitama, Japan.

Gabi Garcia vs. Anna Malyukova

A six-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and ninth degree black belt, the 6-foot-2, 30-year-old Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif. via Sao Paulo, Brazil will return to the RIZIN FF ring for the second time after scoring a first round (2:36) TKO (punches) on Lei’d Tapa on December 31.

Malyukova of Penza, Penza Oblast, Russia is a former collegiate basketball star turned Russian MMA Championship and World Cup of MMA winner.  After amassing a near unblemished, amateur career record of 7-1, Malyukova made her professional debut on September 26, 2015, earning a unanimous decision over Tatiana Portova.

Teodoras Aukstuolis vs. Jaideep “Heart” Singh

The 6-foot, 24-year-old Aukstuolis of Ukmerge, Lithuania is a national Judo champion who has been dubbed the “Lithuanian Werewolf” by Japanese fans who witnessed the young fighter use his aggressive style to knock out (punch) Bruno Henrique Cappelozza in the first round (3:32) of the RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament’s quarterfinal stage of battle on December 29, 2015, before being ousted by eventual tournament champion “King Mo” Lawal in the semifinal round

All but one of Aukstuolis’ wins, thus far, have come by way of (T)KO or submission.

Singh of Punjab, India is a 6-foot-6, 28-year-old, former K-1 and RISE heavyweight kickboxing tournament champion who took his biggest risk to date when he stepped in the ring with Emelianenko in the main event of the RIZIN FF kick-off event on December 31, losing to the iconic Russian fighter by way of first round (3:02) TKO (punches).

Singh’s highest profile win to date came at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final event in Tokyo, Japan when he scored a first round (2:58) KO on Russian superstar Sergei Kharitonov with a right hook.

Vadim Nemkov vs. Karl “King” Albrektsson

Another protégé of Emelianenko and the younger brother of M-1 Global light heavyweight kingpin Viktor Nemkov, the 23-year-old Vadim of Stary Oskol is a three-time national and 2014 world combat Sambo champion.

Nemkov reached the semifinal stage of the RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament onDecember 29, finishing Goran Reljic by way of first round (2:58) TKO (punches) before being ousted from the eight-man playoff by Jiri Prochazka.

The 6-foot-2, 22-year-old Abrektsson of Sweden will make his RIZIN FF promotional debut as one of the hottest emerging forces in Europe.  With a fearless, straightforward style of offense, the Pancrase Gym team member has finished all four of his professional opponents inside of two rounds, via (T)KO or submission.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I,” which takes place at Nippon Gaishi Hall, are on sale and can be purchased online at Ticketbis.com.

In the main event, former PRIDE FC middleweight champion and prolific superstarWanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) will team up with a fighter to be announced soon, in a special grappling “tag match,” and battle a duo consisting of fellow legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

In a 180-pound MMA rules catchweight contest, devastating power puncherHisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

Returning to action for the first time in five years, beloved heavyweight Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), will face recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (16-3-1).

In flyweight (125 pounds) action, submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) will lock horns with red-hot champion Yuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).

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RIZIN FF ANNOUNCES THE RETURN OF KAZUYUKI FUJITA; WILL FACE NEW YEAR’S EVE GRAND PRIX TOURNAMENT RUNNER-UP JIRI PROCHAZKA IN NAGOYA, JAPAN ON APRIL 17

Kazuyuki Fujita will return to MMA action in the RIZIN FF ring on Sunday, April 17. Fujita held up a poster board with an image of his opponent, recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up Jiri Prochazka, at a press conference today to announce his matchup. Photo credit: RIZIN FF

Plus: Allan Nascimento squares off with
fellow flyweight sensation Yuki Motoya

TOKYO – March 16, 2016– RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced during a press conference today, the return of all-time fan favorite Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), who will take on recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (16-3-1), in a heavyweight Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) contest at the 10,000 capacity Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17.

Also announced today for the “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” extravaganza next month, was a flyweight (125 pounds) matchup between submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) and red-hot championYuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Jiri Prochazka

During his memorable 16-year career in the fight game, the 6-foot, 45-year-old Fujita of Funabashi, Chiba, Japan has collected two major, professional wrestling championships and faced off with nearly every rival force of his era in MMA’s heavyweight division, including former pound-for-pound king Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop, Wanderlei Silva and Mark Coleman, while competing under the elite promotional banners of PRIDE FC, K-1 and Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye.

Fujita’s notable victories include a first round (6:46) TKO (corner stoppage) of“The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock, a first round (8:25) KO (punch) of James Thompson and unanimous decisions over Gilbert Yvel and two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tournament winner and NCAA Division I National Wrestling Champion Mark Kerr.

The 6-foot-4, 23-year-old Prochazka of Hosteradice, Czech Republic is coming off a breakthrough performance in which he scored a first round (1:36) TKO (head kick and knee strikes) of Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii in the quarterfinal stage of the RIZIN FF eight-man Grand Prix elimination tournament on December 29, 2015.

Two days later, Prochazka returned to the ring and earned a first round (10:00) TKO (retirement) win over Vadim Nemkov before suffering a first round (5:09) KO (punch) at the hands of superstar “King Mo” Lawal in the championship stage round.  Of Prochazka’s 16 career wins, 13 have come by way of (T)KO and 2 by way of submission.

Allan Nascimento vs.Yuki Motoya

Touted as a miniature version of all-time great Anderson Silva, the 24-year-old Nascimento of Sao Paulo, Brazil boasts an astounding 86 percent submission rate, having forced 12 of the 14 opponents he has conquered, to tap out.

At 5-foot-9, Nascimento towers over the majority of his competition in the 125-pound division, and is known for effectively using his reach advantage and high-level Muay Thai skills to frustrate and inflict damage on opponents from a distance, and set up slick submissions.

The 5-foot-7, 26-year-old Motoya of Nagoya is the reigning DEEP flyweight champion and the number one ranked 125-pound fighter in Japan. Motoya is riding a seven-fight win streak, with four of the victories coming by way of TKO or submission.

In his last start on December 29, Motoya faced off with Felipe Efrain at the inaugural RIZIN FF event, outworking Efrain early in the bout before suddenly being floored by a left hand that Efrain followed up on with a series of strikes, prompting the referee to stop the contest.  Because Efrain had not made weight for the fight, however, the result was overturned from TKO to no contest.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” are on sale and can be purchased online at Ticketbis.com.

In the main event, former PRIDE FC middleweight champion and all-time greatWanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) will team up with a fighter to be announced soon, in a special grappling “tag match,” and battle a duo consisting of fellow legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

In a 180 pound MMA rules contest, devastating power puncher Hisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow prolific finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

Additional bouts for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” will be announced soon.

Follow RIZIN FF:

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WANDERLEI SILVA RETURNS TO JAPAN!   RIZIN FF SIGNS LEGENDARY PRIDE CHAMPION; ANNOUNCES SEVEN FIGHTERS, INCLUDING SILVA, FOR APRIL 17 LIVE EVENT IN NAGOYA, JAPAN

(CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO BE RE-DIRECTED TO A VIDEO)

TOKYO – March 7, 2016– RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced during a press conference, the signing of all-time Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) great Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) to a multi-year promotional contract, as well as the first two bouts, one of which will feature Silva, for its second live event that will take place at the 10,000 capacity Nippon Gaishi Hall in Nagoya, Japan onSunday, April 17.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” are on sale and can be purchased online at TicketBis.com.

Silva, the former PRIDE middleweight champion and 2003 PRIDE Grand Prix middleweight champion, will team up with a fighter to be determined, in a special grappling “tag match,” the rules for which will be announced soon, and battle a duo consisting of another legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

Following the April contest, Silva, who held several records under the PRIDE banner, including longest win streak and most KO’s, will compete under MMA rules in future RIZIN FF events.

In a 180 pound MMA rules contest, devastating power puncher Hisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow prolific finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

A former HEAT middleweight title holder, the 33-year-old Kato made an explosive debut before a live U.S. television audience on Spike when he scored what was later named “Knockout of the Month” – a crushing, second round (:34) KO (punch) on American star Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling at Bellator 139 on June 26, 2015.

To date, all of Kato’s professional victories have come by way of (T)KO.

Watanabe is a 31-year-old grappling ace who boasts a splendid 84 percent finish rate, with 11 of his 19 career wins to date having come by way of submission and another 6 victories having come by way of (T)KO.

The number 10 ranked welterweight in Japan, Watanabe will make his first appearance of 2016 and look to rebound from a first round (2:00) submission (rear-naked choke) defeat at the hands of Keita Nakamura on July 20, 2015, a loss that halted a seven-fight win streak for Watanabe.

In two different women’s bouts, Rena Kubota (1-0 MMA, 31-5-1 shoot boxing) will square off an opponent to be named under shoot boxing rules, while decorated wrestler Kanako Murata (0-0) will make her highly-anticipated MMA debut against an opponent to be announced soon.

The 24-year-old Kubota is a three-time shoot boxing tournament champion who made her much-anticipated MMA debut in stunning fashion at the RIZIN FF New Year’s Eve extravaganza, where she notched a second round (3:31) submission victory over Jleana Valentino with a flying armbar.

The 22-year-old Murata’s impressive resume includes three junior Olympic medals.  Her most impressive feat, however, came in 2011 when Murata nearly defeated four-time Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida during the All-Japan championships.

Additional bouts for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I” will be announced soon.

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RIZIN FF: JEROME LEBANNER RETURNS TO MMA, WILL FACE FORMER SUMO STAR KAIDO HOOVELSON AT NEW YEAR’S KICK-OFF EXTRAVAGANZA IN TOKYO

TOKYO – December 14, 2015 – RIZIN FF, the all-new fight promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced today the return of all-time kickboxing great Jerome LeBanner, to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) rules competition, in a super heavyweight matchup with former sumo wrestling star Kaido “Baruto Kaido” Hoovelson, on Thursday, Dec. 31.

LeBanner (3-2 MMA; 81-22-2, 1 NC (65 KO’s) kickboxing) of Etretat, Seine-Maritime, France will make his first appearance under MMA rules since 2010 when he lost a unanimous decision to Judo medalist Satoshi Ishii.  Prior to the defeat, LeBanner had scored three consecutive knockouts in MMA rules bouts, all under the promotion of K-1.

The 42-year-old LeBanner, who has faced and defeated every major rival of his generation in the kickboxing ring over the course of his 20-plus year professional career, was victorious in both of his starts this year, scoring a second round (:52) KO on Claudiu Istrate with a knee strike to the body to retain his I.S.K.A. world super heavyweight K-1 rules title on April 25, and earning a unanimous decision over Karl Roberson on August 4.

At 6-foot-6, 425 pounds, the 31-year-old Hoovelson (0-0 MMA, 431-213-102 sumo) of Estonia is a monstrous specimen who competed as a professional sumo in Japan between 2004 and 2013.  The bout with LeBanner marks Hoovelson’s MMA rules debut.

Just two years into his career, Hoovelson reached the top division in the sport, eventually winning a championship in 2012 and earning five awards for fighting spirit.

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RIZIN FF:   SHOOT BOXING RULES TO PRESIDE OVER AKEBONO VS. SAPP II ON NEW YEAR’S EVE; “KING MO” TO FACE BRETT MCDERMOTT IN EIGHT-MAN GRAND PRIX TOURNAMENT

Two K-1 rules bouts announced for highly-anticipated,
three-day launch of RIZIN FF in Tokyo, Japan

TOKYO, JAPAN – December 9, 2015 – RIZIN FF officials announced today that the highly anticipated rematch between Akebono and Bob Sapp will be contested under Shoot Boxing rules on Thursday, Dec. 31, and that BAMMA fighter Brett McDermott has been named the new opponent for “King Mo” Lawal in the eight-man heavyweight Grand Prix elimination tournament, following the withdrawal of BAMMA champion Mark Godbeer last week due to injury.

In K-1 rules action, it was announced that Hiroya Kawabe will face striking phenom Akiyo “Wicky” Nishiura on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and Takeru Segawa will square off with Chinese Muay Thai champion Yang Ming on December 31.
Shoot Boxing founder and CEO, Cezar Takeshi joined RIZIN FF Chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara, General Manager Nobuhiko Takada, Sapp, Akebono, Segawa, and producer Kensaku Maeda at a press conference in Tokyo to make the announcements.

“I have been seeking advice about what rules the highly anticipated rematch should be held under, and Mr. Cezar introduced me to the idea where both fighters will be able to maximize their potential,” said Sakakibara.

“The new K-1,” continued Sakakibara, “has become popular in such a rapid rate, and I am happy that they are going to be sending their top, young talent to our ring. We would like to match both K-1 representatives up with tough opponents.”

Sakakibara also mentioned that Nam Jin Jo has injured his knee during training and was forced to withdraw, so Felipe Efrain from Shoot Boxe Academy will be facing Yuki Motoya.

Sakakibara closed his announcement by describing the details of the three-day, free-of-charge fight expo, which will begin on December 29, and include amateur MMA bouts and an open grappling tournament.

The rematch between Akebono and Sapp and the bout between Segawa and Ming join matchups between Yuichiro Nagashima and Andy Souwer, andAsen Yamamoto and Kron Gracie on December 31st.

Comments:

Bob Sapp:

“It has been a while since I last fought on NYE, and very excited. And to be facing my nemesis once again. Last time we fought, we made history, and that was a great honor. I would like to aim for making history again, and I assure you it will be an exciting fight.”

Akebono:

“I have been living with grief and defeat for the past 12 years. I have carried a thought of redemption deep inside and got the offer at the perfect timing. I never want to have to feel that way again, so I want everybody to come watch the new Akebono. I’m going in there for the win.”

Takeru Segawa:

“I was frustrated because I wanted to fight more this year, but I’m glad for this perfect opportunity. There are many MMA fights on the card, but I would like to show that K-1 fights are the most exciting. I want everybody to be talking about the lightest fighter’s being the most exciting out of all RIZIN fights.”

RIZIN FF General Manager Nobuhiko Takada:

“I am just too excited. One of the reasons is that the fight card is near complete, but more so because of the fact that we will be able to kick of our event on the day where people watch television the most. It needs to be a festivity. We put together various fights for a wide audience. We would like to continue to promote the greatness of this event.”

Takada continued in describing each fighter. “Hiroya has the looks and the skills who reigns as the top fighter in K-1. I can see why he has many female fans. But once the bell rings, he shows his aggressiveness and power. It is always irritating when you know very little about your opponent, but he is determined to show the greatness of K-1 regardless of his opponent.”

He continued on about the legendary fight, “The ratings for that fight was unreal. And that same fight will be coming back. There are many opinions about this fight, but that is what makes it so exciting. Many fighters will be motivated to gather all the attention which will lead to better performance. This fight has many meanings behind it.” Takada added,” If Akebono wins, maybe next year?” and teased everybody about a possible rubber match. Takada announced that Cezar Takeshi was assigned as the referee for this fight and asked him not to trip during the fight.

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