While the UFC’s got their biggest card of the season, RIZIN’s set up for another wild hybrid card with some of their most action-oriented fighters and two title fights. There’s a good amount of bantamweight fights to sort out the division, and lots of other fun bits to look forward to.
Kyoji Horiguchi (28-2) went from a very good flyweight that had some good but not particularly memorable performances in the UFC’s flyweight division before losing by decision all-time great Demetrious Johnson. Three more wins after that and he was released from his contract and had to ply his trade elsewhere. Since then he’s won 10 fights in a row for a total of 13 since the Johnson loss. His opposition has been very good, and his most of those performances have been nothing short of sensational. Now the dual RIZIN and Bellator champion, Horiguchi faces one of the most dangerous strikers RIZIN has to offer.
Kai Asakura (12-1) has been a Certified Finisher™ for some time, and he is not particularly nice about it. Him and his brother Mikuru have been putting on fun performances in Japan, and you’d be forgiven for not knowing his name. He’s violent, he’s clever, and he’s bound to make this a fun fight.
Ayaka Hamasaki (18-2) has been having a great career bounceback since her unfortunate loss to current UFC fighter Livia Renata Souza. With four wins in a row since then including victories against tough grapplers Kanna Asakura and Alyssa Garcia, she now faces a very different threat in Suwanan Boonsorn (3-1). With a technical and hard-hitting Muay Thai base, all three of Boonsorn’s wins have been by submission, including two armbar wins. One of those was against one-time Invicta fighter Loma Lookboonmee. A blistering striker with a clever submission game is an excellent combination, but will it be enough to handle a complete fighter like Hamasaki that’s still in her prime? We’ll find out.
Josh Barnett protégé Victor Henry (18-4) has gotten some love here before for good reason, with his very good wrestling game and ever-improving striking. He’ll be dealing with Australian brutalizer Trent Girdham (11-2), who has eight finishes out of eleven wins. With some slick submissions and a healthy striking background, this could be a show-stealer.
Former UFC fighter Takeya Mizugaki (23-13, 2 draws) makes his RIZIN debut with back to back wins in his pocket, being welcomed by resident bad boy Manel Kape (13-4), who is a problem. Kape’s got good wrestling and vicious striking, and his physicality may be a concern for Mizugaki. By that same token, Mizugaki’s grappling and ground strikes could even things out.
Muay Thai darling John Wayne Parr takes on Brazil’s Danilo Zanolini in a kickboxing bout, and former UFC fighter Jarred Brooks (14-2) meets DEEP strawweight champ and violence machine Haruo Ochi (19-7, 2 draws) in his RIZIN debut. Another UFC vet will be in action as Justin Scoggins (11-6) makes his return to RIZIN against Kazuma Sone (23-18, 1 draw), and Krazy Bee’s newest threat Ai Shimizu (4-1) meets Michigan’s Tabatha Ann Watkins (3-2).
Finally, fan-favorite and ruthless wrestler Kanna Asakura (14-4) meets another very tough wrestler in Alisha Zappitella (5-1) in what looks to be another very good fight.
Full card is as follows:
Kyoji Horiguchi vs Kai Asakura - Bantamweight title fight
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Suwanan Boonsorn - Super Atomweight (108lbs) title fight
Victor Henry vs Trent Girdham - Bantamweight
Takeya Mizugaki vs Manel Kape - Bantamweight
John Wayne Parr vs Danilo Zanolini - Kickboxing bout/165lbs
Kanna Asakura vs Alisha Zappitella - Super Atomweight
Haruo Ochi vs Jarred Brooks - 117lb bout
Hiroto Uesaku vs Yves Landu - Lightweight
Justin Scoggins vs Kazuma Sone - Bantamweight
Takaki Soya vs Yutaro Muramoto - 130lb bout
Ai Shimizu vs Tabatha Ann Watkins - Super Atomweight
Takiya Shota vs Kazuki Osaki - Kickboxing bout/117lb bout
Ryuji Horio vs Uchu Sakurai - Kickboxing bout/125lb bout
RIZIN 18 starts this Saturday night into Sunday morning at 1:00am EST, and will be streaming live exclusively on FITE.tv for $22.99