New Years Eve is hear once more. Which, of course, means it’s time for another spectacular Japanese MMA event. RIZIN is leading the charge into 2020, capping off this year with a packed card that has some of their very best talent, and the coronation of a new Grand Prix champion.
The wily Asakura brothers are back in the game on the same card, and their development has been great for RIZIN. Mikuru (11-1) will be meeting UFC and Bellator vet John ‘Macapa’ Texeira (23-4, 2 draws) in what should be a stiff test for Mikuru. Texeira’s been a reliable and sturdy veteran that doesn’t succumb easily to pressure and is hard to finish, while Mikuru has reckless offense. This fight should really show just where in his development the elder Asakura brother is, or how a veteran like Macape can once again stifle a less experienced challenger.
But, Kai (14-1) is the one having the true breakout year. After his shocking upset win over former dual champ Kyoji Horiguchi, Kai Asakura’s now set up for the title Horiguchi was forced to vacate after a ghastly knee injury. His opponent is the brash and confident Manel Kape (14-4), who lost to Kai in a very close split decision in May of 2018. Kape clearly believes this is his time to shine, with a stoppage over Seiichiro Ito and sending former UFC fighter Takeya Mizugaki to the woodshed.
Another establish veteran will be getting his feet wet in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun,’ as C.B. Dollaway (17-9) fights out of the UFC for the first time since fighting in Mexico during the Bush administration. Across the ring from him will be phenom Jiri Prochazka, who has decimated most of his opponents. He’s improved significanlty over time and lands massive punches while sprawling and springing back up from takedown defense. Dolloway would be the strongest wrestler he’s fought to date, but size and age won’t be in Clarence Byron’s favor.
The lightweight Grand Prix comes to a close with the final four fighting twice in one night for all the marbles. Bellator trailblazer Patricky Pitbull (22-8) rides a six-fight win streak that goes all the way back to 2017, which includes dismantling Crusher Kawajiri in the first round of the tournament. He’ll be half of a Brazil vs Brazil match against Wanderlei Silva protégé Luiz Gustavo, who busted up Hiroto Uesako bad enough to warrant a doctor stoppage. While, on the other side of the bracket, UFC vet and RIZIN regular Johnny Case takes on Azerbaijan’s Tofiq Musaev—who blasted Damien Brown out of the tournament back in October.
Rena Kubota (9-3) had a crossover bout in Bellator this year that didn’t go her way, but she’ll be looking to avenge that loss in a rematch against Linsdey VanZandt (7-2). Lindsey’s got some great kicks from range and a savvy submission game, all of which she’ll need to make another statement against the Shootboxing darling.
Jackson/Winklejohn prodigy Patchy Mix is on loan from Bellator, and he’ll step in to meet extra crafty DEEP and RIZIN vet Yuki Motoya (23-7). Motoya’s got guts, and he’s able to hang anywhere, but Mix is a phenomenal athlete with range, slick strikes and a capable wrestling and submission game. This could easily be the sleeper fight of the night.
Miyuu Yamamoto (5-4) continues to challenge herself against stiff competition, and the twist this time is that she faces one of the brightest talents in the smaller women’s divisions. Suwanan Boonsorn (4-2) — also known as Amp the Rocket — notched a stunning submission upset against former Invicta talent and current UFC fighter Loma Lookboonmee last year, then went on to further prove she’s much more than just a Muay Thai fighter against Emi Sato at DEEP JEWELS 23, again by submission. Her lethal striking and scrambly-but-confident submission game should be a massive problem for Yamamoto. But the 45-year-old does have that strong wrestling pedigree in her back pocket.
Also, a few kickboxing bouts are in order: Rizin star Tenshin Nasukawa meets Rui Ebata in the night’s co-main event, and Taiga Kawabe collides with Taiju Shiratore.
Full card is as follows:
Kai Asakura (134.2) vs. Manel Kape (133.3 lb) - Vacant Bantamweight title bout
Tenshin Nasukawa (123.2) vs. Rui Ebata (122.8) - Kickboxing bout
Ayaka Hamasaki (107.7) vs. Seo Hee Ham (107.8) - Super Atomweight title fight
Mikuru Asakura (145.5) vs. John Teixeira (144.8) - Featherweight bout
Lindsey VanZandt (109.9) vs. Rena Kubota (111.7) - 112lb bout
Lightweight Grand Prix Finale
Jiri Prochazka (205.0) vs. C.B. Dollaway (204.5) - Inaugural Light Heavyweight title fight
Vitaly Shemetov (204.3) vs. Simon Biyong (201.9) - Light heavyweight
Shintaro Ishiwatari (134.8) vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo (133.6) - Bantamweight bout
Jake Heun (229.5) vs. Satoshi Ishii (228.8) - 231 lb catchweight
Yuki Motoya (134.5) vs. Patrick “Patchy“ Mix (134.8) - Bantamweight bout
Taiju Shiratori (136.2) vs. Taiga Kawabe (134.8) - Kickboxing bout
Miyuu Yamamoto (107.6) vs. Suwanan Boonsorn (103.6) - Super Atomweight bout
Luiz Gustavo (155.8) vs. Patricky Freire (156.4) - GP semifinal bout
Johnny Case (156.9) vs. Tofiq Musayev (156.9) - GP semifinal bout
RIZIN 20 starts at 1:00am EST Monday night into Tuesday morning, and is available for purchase over at FITE.tv for $19.99.