Rizin FF this week made several announcements for its upcoming event planned for April 16 at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.
Recently announced free agent Anthony Birchak (13-3) has found a new home in Japan with Rizin, and will be moving up a weight class to challenge fellow UFC veteran and Japanese MMA legend Tatsuya Kawajiri (35-11-2) in a featherweight bout. Fan favorite and always entertaining lightweight Daron Cruickshank (18-9-1NC) battles Japanese prospect Yusuke Yachi (16-6) in what should be a fun scrap. Heavyweight legend “The Texas Crazy Horse” Heath Herring (28-15-1NC) will be making his second appearance in the ring since he last lost a close decision on December 29, 2016, when stepping up on short notice in order to fill in the Grand Prix after a eight-year hiatus. He will be fighting against Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii (14-7-1), who is looking to snap a three-fight skid. After making his electrifying MMA debut, and requesting a fight just 2 days later, kickboxing superstar, 19-year-old Tenshin Nasukawa (18-0 Kick boxing / 2-0 MMA) will step out of his comfort zone once again, looking to extend his 2-0 MMA record against Italy’s hard-hitting pitbull Franchesco Ghigliotti (26-12-2 kick boxing / 0-0) in a flyweight bout.
Three women’s match-ups were also announced, featuring the teenage Kanna Asakura (6-2) taking on Amateur MMA world champion Alexandra Toncheva (8-0 AMMA) from Bulgaria. Japanese woman’s MMA pioneer, and now a mother, Saori Ishioka (14-10) will be fighting Swiss karate practitioner Bestare Kicaj (2-0). Both those fights are scheduled at atomweight. Lastly, highly noticed German pro-wrestler Jazzy Garbert (1-0) will be making her RIZIN debut against Reina Miura (AKA King Reina / 2-0) in a 198-pound catchweight fight. Jazzy Gabert caught immediate attention when she interrupted woman’s heavyweight icon Gabi Garcia’s (4-0) winning speech to challenge her and since then the heavyweights have taken their beef to social network. King Reina is coming off of an impressive win over Invicta and UFC veteran Shayna Baszler, and won her ticket to the RIZIN ring.
Rena Kubota (3-0) will be participating in the April event, but her opponent has yet to be announced.
Previously announced in the Main Event newly signed prize Kyoji Horiguchi (18-2) faces Yuki Motoya (18-4) to determine the top Japanese Flyweight at a 128-pound catch weight. Horiguchi has won his last three bouts (all in the UFC) and has not lost since April 25, 2015, while Motoya is widely considered Japan’s top flyweight and finally gets his chance to prove that on April 16.
Additionally, Rizin FF announced there will be both men’s and women’s grand prix events in 2017 with the first rounds beginning in October. RENA will be participating in the woman’s GP and the weight will be at her weight class.