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RIZIN FF 15: Yokohama fight card preview

Japan brings less of the circus but a lot of the substance, all for an event that even the most jaded fan can find something to love in.

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Japan brings us yet another major card this weekend, with RIZIN setting up some compelling matchups, outstanding prospects and potential for action.

Not only do we get former Bellator title challenger and RIZIN GP winner King Mo (21-8) fighting Jiri Prochazka (23-3, 1 draw) fighting for the inaugural RIZIN light heavyweight title, but one of the most exciting fighters on the planet in Kyoji Horiguchi (26-2) looks to continue one of the most impressive and satisfying post-UFC career renaissances ever seen.

Also, Tenshin Nasukawa. There’s no way this isn’t exciting, even with the intermissions.

Lawal and Prochazka will be in a rematch of their 2015 GP finals match, where Mo finished the grueling tournament with a right hand that made the ultimate statement. Lawal’s currently on back to back losses since defeating nemesis Rampage Jackson in 2017. Jiri’s been on a seven fight win streak with only one decision, and has been making sure to impress in each outing. After absolutely deading Jungle Fight’s Bruno Cappelozza, he ruined Brandon Halsey and brutalized Jake Heun. He’s the most deserving man on the roster for this title shot, so it’s very fitting that he gets it against a solid veteran and with a chance at redemption. It also helps things that this time, both parties will be fresh and not suffering the wear and tear of a weekend tournament like last time.

Kyoji Horiguchi has had the kind of post-UFC career you can’t even script. Loved in his homeland and improved under Mike Brown at American Top Team, he’s putting on stellar performances and giving us career-defining moments at almost every turn. This time, he faces former UFC fighter Ben Nguyen (17-8) at a 132lb catchweight, and with two gutsy, crafty competitors, we should expect absolute fireworks. After the almost miraculous comeback victory over Darrion Caldwell, it’ll be interesting to see what Horiguchi brings this time around and how Nguyen attempts to solve the riddle that is modern-era Kyoji.

Celebrated BJJ ace Roberto Satoshi (7-0) is no stranger to the MMA game, but this time he faces the very experiences hard-nosed wrestleboxer Satoru Kitaoka (42-18, 9 draws). It seems like they may be pulling a Kron Gracie-like gamble on Satoshi, and it’ll be interesting nonetheless.

Former GP contestant Karl Albrektsson (8-2) faces Brazilian prospect Christiano Frolich (10-4). Shootbox princess RENA Kubota (7-2) tests herself against another striker in Samantha Jean-Francois (3-5). Let’s not sugarcoat this or trick ourselves here — Jean-Francois is not ready to face opposition on this level, but might pull a rabbit out of a hat. Not to disparage her, but that doesn’t seem likely here.

Mikuru Asakura (9-1) is almost guaranteed fun, and he’d better have some kind of answer for the problem that is Wanderlei Silva protegé Luiz Gustavo (9-0), who recently sent Kid Yamamoto protegé Yusuke Yachi to the land of wind and ghosts. Freak athlete Kana Watanabe (6-0, 1 draw) faces Justina Haba (1-0), who stunned another RIZIN poster girl in Shinju Nozawa-Auclair in her pro debut by sleeping her in a chokehold. Big-game talker Manel Kape (12-4) loves putting on a show, and he’ll have an opportunity to do so against against submission specialist Seiichiro Ito (12-2, 2 draws). Suplexing menace Koji Takeda (8-0) is back, Karelin-lifting his way to stardom one slam at a time. He’ll have his work cut out for him, as he deals with savvy veteran and former UFC fighter Damien Brown (18-12).

Mexico’s Saray Orozco (4-2) was originally slated to face the previously mentioned Shinju Nowaza-Auclair, but Shinju was forced off the card due to injury. Orozco’s now got a stiffer challenge as she faces the very dangerous stout powerhouse in Kanako Murata (8-1). Gonna be a very long night for Saray.

It should be noted that Kai Asakura was scheduled for this event against Ulka Sasaki and Justin Scoggins, but both were forced off the card due to injuries, which left the younger Asakura brother off the card entirely.

Full card is as follows:

Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal vs Jiri Procházka - Light heavyweight

Tenshin Nasukawa vs Fritz Biagtan - 130lb kickboxing match

Kyoji Horiguchi vs Ben Nguyen - 132lbs

Satoru Kitaoka vs Roberto “Satoshi“ de Souza - 157lbs

Karl Albrektsson vs Christiano Frolich - Light heavyweight

Rena Kubota vs Samantha Jean-Francois - 112lbs

Luiz Gustavo vs Mikuru Asakura - 150lbs

Kana Watanabe vs Justyna Haba 126lbs

Damien Brown vs Koji Takeda - 157lbs

Manel Kape vs Seiichiro Ito - 128lbs

Kanako Murata vs Saray Orozco - 126lbs

Taiga Kawabe vs Thailsson Gomez Ferreira - 134lb kickboxing bout

RIZIN 15 begins at 1:00 AM EST Saturday night into Sunday morning, streaming exclusively via FITE.tv. It’ll be available for purchase for $19.99.