RIZIN is always good fun, and even in a packed weekend for MMA, it manages to have an event that can stand out.
Yutaka Saito (20-4) makes his second title defense after defeating Mikuru Asakura by decision last November, facing Juntaro Ushiku (19-8, 1 draw). Saito is a menace, and a very cold and calculating fighter that’s used his striking offense and grappling defense to end up with a four-fight win streak and a big gold belt to show for it. A fiery performer, he’s done most of his damage in Shooto, putting on a string of impressive performances.
Ushiku made his repuTation in Pancrase and DEEP, working with a very opportunistic yet technical submission game, and a penchant for vicious soccer kicks.
Wrestler Kanna Asakura (18-5) has consistently been a problem in RIZIN, and is coming off a rough split decision loss to super atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki in March. Her next opponent, Saori Oshima (6-2) stays busy and active during fights, and really put her fast-paced game to work against her most high-profile opponent Emi Tomimatsu. Another opportunistic submission hunter, she may struggle with Asakura’s wrestling but also give her fits with her submissions from anywhere.
Vale Tudo Japan vet Yusaku Nakamura (16-8) meets violent finisher Yuki Ito (8-2), and respected vet Daisuke Nakamura (30-20, 1 draw) steps in at age 41 against submission specialist Suguru Nii (12-10). Former UFC and ONE Championship fighter Daichi Abe (9-4) is on a three-fight win streak and aims to extend that against Akira Okada (15-8, 4 draws), who has back to back wins against Issei Tamura and Koshi Matsumoto.
You can check out the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows:
Yutaka Saito (65.95kg/145.3lbs) vs Juntaro Ushiku (65.7kg/144.8lbs) – Featherweight title fight
Kanna Asakura (48.8kg/106.6lbs) vs Saori Oshima (47.9kg/105.7)
Yusaku Nakamura (56.9kg/125.4) vs Yuki Ito (56.6/124.7)
Daisuke Nakamura (66.0kg/145.5) vs Suguru Nii (65.8/145.0lbs)
Masanori Kanehara (65.7kg/144.8) vs Takahiro Ashida (65.75kg/144.9lbs)
Daichi Abe (70.7kg/155.9lbs) vs Akira Okada (70.45kg/155.3lbs)
Rikuto Shirakawa (66.0kg/145.5lbs) vs Takuya Yamamoto (65.7kg/144.8lbs)
Seiichiro Ito (56.95kg/125.5lbs) vs Kunta Hashimoto (56.75kg/125.1lbs)
Tsuyoshi Sudario (115.6kg/254.8lbs) vs Saint (106.35/234.4lbs) – Heavyweight
RIZIN 31 takes place this Saturday night into Sunday morning, starting at midnight EST. The event will be available for purchese stateside exclusively on LiveNow.
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