So, do you want to see two guys slug it out?
Japanese powerhouse org RIZIN has announced that former UFC fighter and celebrated slugger Fabio Maldonado (25-13) will be facing Jiri Procházka (24-3, 1) in a non-title fight that will be contested at 220lbs.
Procházka has been one of the best talents outside of any U.S.-based organization for some time now, participating in two GPs for RIZIN. He was defeated by former Bellator fighter Muhammed Lawal in the inaugural tournament, but has managed to go undefeated since with wins against Brandon Halsey (strikes), Kazuyuki Fujita (ditto), Jake Heun (also strikes), and Vadim Nemkov en route to avenging that loss to Lawal in spectacular fashion.
Maldonado has had a very wild post-UFC run, with back to back losses against Fedor Emelianenko (in a very controversial affair) and Mikhail Mokhnatkin by decision, followed by stunning finishes against Abdul-Khamid Davlat and a thrilling submission win that earned him the Fight Nights Global championship against sturdy prospect Kurban Omarov.
But it’s been rough sailing since. Brutal consecutive losses to Nikita Krylov and powerhouse Ivan Shtyrkov took place last year, followed by a decision loss in a boxing match against Oscar Rivas. Three weeks later he beat Thiago Silva Batista in the very first round in what was Batista’s pro debut.
2019 has not been kind, though. Both of his fights this year have been boxing matches, with a decision loss to Oleksander Teslenko and a fight against Michael Hunter in what was one of the most irresponsible displays of matchmaking in recent history.
So, how good does this really look?
It’s good to have reliable veteran talent that’s well-travelled and has some notoriety and popularity like Maldonado facing a younger fighter on the rise. This is an excellent opportunity for Procházka, but let’s not sugar-coat this: as sturdy a test as this may be, Maldonado’s chin and recent absorption of damage make this look like something of a step down. However, even a lot of mileage at age 39, this is a good name value fight for someone this young and talented considering the lack of depth at light heavyweight.
The organization has also announced the participants for the lightweight Grand Prix this year, which include former UFC fighters Johnny Case (26-6, 1 draw), Damien Brown (19-12) and Tatsuya “Crusher“ Kawajiri (37-13, 2 draws), decorated grappler Roberto Satoshi de Souza (9-0), Hiroto Uesako (16-7), Wanderlei Silva protegé Luiz Gustavo (9-1), heavy-hitter Tofiq Musaev (13-3), and most surprisingly, former Bellator title challenger Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (21-8).
The pairings and order of the opening round have not been announced as of yet, but we will have more information as it is released. That said, just the names of the parties involved and possibilities for action have already generated intrigue.
Aside from this, more great news was announced with golden girl RENA (a.k.a. Rena Kubota, 8-3) looking to bounce back from her Bellator loss against Canada’s Shawna Ram (4-1 amateur, 1-0 pro). Miyuu Yamamoto continues to take on tough opposition as she deals with knockout threat and cult favorite Seo Hee Ham (a.k.a. Hamderlei).
Former UFC fighter Keita Nakamura (34-10, 2 draws, 1 no contest) also returns to action against BJJ ace Marcos Yoshio de Souza (8-1), brother of Roberto Satoshi de Souza.
RIZIN 19 is scheduled for October 12th, live from Osaka, Japan.