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 on April 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 on April 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