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Rizin FF 20, 2019 Live Stream Online
DEC 31 2019 – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Rizin Shine: Kai Asakura gets his shot at superstardom in Saitama at Rizin FF 20
Things didn’t work out as originally planned for Rizin FF, but the Japanese promotion’s New Year’s Eve spectacular at the Saitama Super Arena will still finish with a wild scrap for their bantamweight title.
Rizin FF 20 was all set to feature the hotly-anticipated rematch between Kyoji Horiguchi and the man who shocked the MMA world when he finished the two-promotion bantamweight champion in their non-title meeting at Rizin FF 18 in October, Kai Asakura.
Asakura’s 68-second demolition of Horiguchi in Nagoya stunned the Japanese MMA community, and when Asakura (14-1, 6-0 Rizin FF) repeated the trick with a 54-second knockout of Ulka Sasaki at Rizin 19 that left the former UFC fighter with a broken jaw, it was clear that the 26-year-old was the undeniable number-one contender for Horiguchi’s title.
Everything seemed set for an end-of-year showdown in Saitama, but disaster struck in November when news emerged that Horiguchi had sustained a knee injury that would require surgery and an estimated layoff of around 10 months. But, in an honorable move from the American Top Team man, Horiguchi decided to relinquish his Rizin and Bellator bantamweight titles to free up the belts and allow Rizin to book an alternative title fight for New Year’s Eve.
Now the vacant bantamweight strap will be up for grabs in the night’s main event, with Asakura taking on the explosive Manel Kape (, whose second-round knockouts of Seiichiro Ito and Takeya Mizugaki at Rizin FF 15 and 18 respectively made him a compelling replacement opponent for Dec. 31. And with Asakura taking the spoils when the pair battled to a split decision back in May 2018, there’s fighting pride, as well as a championship belt, at stake.
Hamasaki and Seo set for super-atomweight showdown
A second title fight will also feature at the top end of the main card, with reigning Rizin women’s super atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki returning to action to face the challenge of South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham in a title fight between fighters with a combined 51 fights to their name.
Hamasaki (19-2, 5-0 Rizin FF) captured the vacant title at Rizin FF 14 last December via second-round armbar finish of Kanna Asakura, then defended her title with a unanimous decision against Jihn Yu Frey in June. Most recently, she armbarred Suwanan Boonsorn in a non-title showcase at Rizin FF 18. Now she takes on former UFC strawweight Seo (22-8, 2-0 Rizin FF) Hee Ham, who hasn’t lost since departing the UFC at the end of 2016.
Rizin FF women’s atomweight champion: Ayaka Hamasaki (L) with Seo Hee Ham
Seo has won five in a row, with her last two victories coming via stoppage inside the Rizin ring. Tomo Maesawa was dispatched inside a round, then Seo finished Japanese amateur wrestling icon Miyuu Yamamoto via second-round TKO at Rizin FF 19 in October. Now the 32-year-old from Busan will bid to capture her second title since leaving the UFC as she aims to add the Rizin title to the Road FC atomweight title she won in December 2017.
Dolloway aims for redemption – and a championship belt
A USADA anti-doping suspension may have left C.B. Dolloway unable to compete Stateside, but the MMA free-agent has been handed not just a lifeline, but the opportunity of a lifetime, as he takes on reigning champion Jiri Prochazka for the Rizin light heavyweight title.
Dolloway (17-9, 0-0 Rizin FF) was handed a two-year ban by USADA after a pair out-of-competition tests came back positive, while an IV infusion was also adjudged to be over the allowable limit.
It resulted in Dolloway’s eventual release from the UFC, with the American seemingly banned from competition until mid-December 2020. But with Rizin not recognizing USADA’s suspensions, Dolloway is free to fight for the Japanese promotion, and will challenge the dominant champ Prochazka (25-3-1, 10-1 Rizin FF), who is riding a 10-fight, four-year win streak. The big Czech has finished nine of those 10 victories, with eight of those coming inside the opening round.
Lightweight grand prix reaches its climax
In addition to the three title fights on the card, Rizin FF 20 will also feature the two semifinals, then the final, of the promotion’s lightweight grand prix tournament.
The semis will see America’s Johnny Case face off with dangerous Azerbaijani contender Tofiq Musaev, while the other half of the draw features Bellator star Patricky Freire, who will take on fellow countryman Luiz Gustavo.
The four men will contest their semifinal matchups early on the preliminary card, with the two winners facing off in the tournament final in the final bout before the intermission.
Look out for Bellator bantamweight contender Patrick Mix, who will be representing his promotion with pride as he takes on former DEEP bantamweight champion Yuki Motoya.
Former King of the Cage bantamweight champ Mix has been one of the big success stories of Bellator’s lower weight classes after joining the promotion midway through the year and producing a pair of highlight-reel first-round submissions.
After his Suloev stretch finish of Isiah Chapman at Bellator 232, Mix told MMA Junkie he was only just scratching the surface of his capabilities, and now he gets the chance to showcase his grappling prowess inside the Rizin ring.
And perhaps the biggest reception of the night could come early on the card, as Miyuu Yamamoto returns to action against Suwanan Boonsorn (4-2, 0-1 Rizin FF). Yamamoto (5-4, 5-4 Rizin FF) is still competing in MMA and grappling tournaments at the age of 45, and the former amateur wrestling phenom and sister of the late, great Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto remains a firm favorite with the Japanese fight fans wherever she competes.