For a week largely devoid of top tier combat sports action, even at the international level, RIZIN has aligned some of their brightest talents to finish off 2021 with a bang. In fact, it’s almost a bit surprising that their traditional NYE card hasn’t captured more buzz, considering the lack of competition and what appears to be set up for a memorable night of fights and spectacle.
Over the course of this 16-fight card, there promises to be the last two legs of the 2021 bantamweight grand prix. Some kickboxing, a couple of mixed rules showcase fights, and fight for the promotion’s lightweight title. Most notably for the casual fan looking for fans looking for that hook to convince them to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, is a fight between former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi and kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa.
RIZIN 33 airs live via iPPV starting at 11:30pm/8:30 pm ET/PT on December 30th. Here’s a look at the evening’s most notable fights.
RIZIN LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT: Roberto Satoshi vs. Yusuke Yachi
Top billing goes to Roberto Satoshi (12-1), the BJJ menace that has taken over and captured the RIZIN lightweight title. His improving striking really serves to compliment his dominating grappling skills, making him an absolute delight to see in the ring. This time around, he’s facing a truly reckless and powerful striker in Yusuke Yachi (23-11)—the Krazy Bee rep that’s made a career going all out for the finish with little to no regard for his own safety. Roberto can do a lot to control in this fight, but Yachi only needs a few shots to connect in order to turn the tide in any fight.
Yachi remaining upright isn’t the only concern, though. Satoshi can work in the clinch and isn’t every really in a rush to get fights to the ground. That confidence seems earned, too given that he can fall back to his bread and butter if need be, and make that look easy. But Yachi launching heat down the middle for a bit only to go for a flying attack of some sort can really put anyone on roller skates. As far as title fights go, it should be a thriller for as long as it lasts.
FEATHERWEIGHTS: Mikuru Asakura vs. Yutaka Saito
Mikuru Asakura (15-3) and Yutaka Saito (20-5-2) are scheduled to have a rematch of their 2020 battle—in which Saito took the featherweight title from Asakura. Saito lost that belt just back in October, via doctor’s stoppage to Juntaro Ushiko, so there won’t be a title on the line this time around. Mikuru is still a striker first and foremost and Saito likes to use a lot of clinch control and grappling to go with his standing exchanges. Can the same strategy work again? We’ll find out soon.
CUSTOM RULES BOUT: Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Takenori Gomi
It’s not the evening’s actual main event, but this is the night’s circus, freak show action set to draw in the more casual audience. Kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa is in a special rules fight against former PRIDE lightweight champ and now exceptionally grizzled vet Takanori Gomi. This is scheduled to be a “special standing rules” affair that could essentially be described as “Boxing+”. No grappling or kicks are allowed but backfists and other less-orthodox punches are all on the table. Tenshin being dynamo taking on a Gomi already in his early 40s is an odd pairing, but it’s got quite enough intrigue for fans to at least look in that direction and see what pops off.
WOMEN’S SUPER ATOMWEIGHT SUPERFIGHT: Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Seiza Isawa
DEEP JEWELS strawweight champion Seiza Isawa (4-0) brings her grappling experience and athleticism to RIZIN’s ranks as she faces atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki. The two women will meet at something of a catchweight of 108 lbs, with neither of their titles on the line. Hamasaki first won the super-atomweight belt in 2018, over Kanna Asakura—losing it just a year later to UFC vet Seo Hee Ham. Ham vacated the belt to sign with ONE, however, allowing Hamaski to regain the title in December of last year. A former Judoka, Isawa captured her JEWELS title in just her third pro fight, having made her MMA debut in October of 2020.
Shootboxing darling Rena Kubota (12-3) welcomes Si Woo Park (5-4) to the RIZIN ring, with Park doing most of her work in DEEP JEWELS and GRACHAN. Kickboxer Noah “Black Panther“ Bey (1-1 MMA) gets to showcase his skills against rugged wrestler and surreal athlete Koji Takeda (12-2). Hideki “Shrek“ Sekine (10-5) brings a wealth of grappling and submission knowledge with carnival wrestling panache as he faces up and coming finisher Shoma Shibisai (7-2).
2021 BANTAMWEIGHT GRAND PRIX BOUTS
Yuki Motoya (28-10) is back against Yuto Hokamura (14-2-2) in a Grand Prix ‘reserve bout’, while two fights near the start of the event will serve as the semi-finals. Grappling aces Hiromasa Ougikubo (23-5-2) and Naoki Inoue (15-2) will face off against each other, while the other side of the bracket has former champ Kai Asakura (18-3) squaring off against Kenta Takizawa (13-7) in a blazing striker duel.
You can watch the weigh-ins here:
Full card is as follows:
POST-INTERMISSION MAIN CARD
2021 Bantamweight Grand Prix Finale
Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza vs Yusuke Yachi – RIZIN Lightweight Championship (157lbs)
Yutaka Saito vs Mikuru Asakura – Featherweight Bout
Tenshin Nasukawa vs Takanori Gomi – Custom Rules Bout
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Seiza Izawa – Super Atomweight (108lbs) Bout
Rena Kubota vs Si Woo Park – 110lb Bout
Koji Takeda vs Noah Bey – Lightweight Bout
Shoma Shibisai vs Hideki Sekine – Heavyweight Bout
Kyohei Hagiwara vs Hiroaki Suzuki – Featherweight Bout
Koji Tanaka vs YA-MAN – Kickboxing Bout
Atsushi Saito vs Yuta Kubo – 198lb Custom Rules Bout
Kazuma Sone vs Shinobu Ota – Bantamweight Bout
Yuki Motoya vs Yuto Hokamura – Bantamweight GP Alternate Bout
Hiromasa Ogikubo vs Naoki Inoue – Bantamweight GP Semi-Final
Kai Asakura vs Kenta Takizawa – Bantamweight GP Semi-Final
Kota Miura vs Yushi – Custom Rules Bout
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