Yesterday Typhoon Chanthu swirled through Tokyo dropping sheets of wind and wet across the region. There was severe damage in parts of the country and a lesser flood warning in my neighborhood. I woke up chagrined, as I knew I had to make the long trip out to Saitama Super Arena in the torrential elements, but of course I would do anything for the transcendent power of JMMA. I donned my raincoat, grabbed an umbrella, and begin the miserable, soaking trek to the train station to begin the automated portion of my journey to Saitama – over an hour trip. Wait a second, I thought, frantically checking my phone… RIZIN 30 is tomorrow. Nice one, grandpa.
Today, however, the sun is shining and the temperature is pleasant. There’s a nice breeze blowing and my trip was a delicious piece of chocolate cake. Best of all, here we are, finally, back in Saitama Super Arena. Back where RIZIN really belongs. Frankly speaking, Tokyo Dome ain’t shit. Plus the Yomiuri Giants play there and supporting them is like supporting the New York Yankees. In the words of Bartleby, "I’d prefer not to." I’d much rather be here in Saitama.
The last RIZIN show held in Saitama Super Arena was the New Year’s Eve 2020 show. I haven’t personally been here since 2019. COVID fucked with shit, no? And while we’re still in the pandemic, things are getting better in Tokyo and Japan. Despite a late start to vaccination and a scary Olympic surge, many more people are vaccinated and cases are steadily going down. We still wear masks everywhere, but that’s sort of Tokyo for you. There’s still a cap on attendance for this show and limits on booze, but I imagine those will be eased fairly soon, most likely in time for the NYE 2021 show and the finals of the Bantamweight Grand Prix whose quarterfinals we will witness shortly – this begs the question: where and when are the semis? A couple days before the finals? Same day? Inquiring minds.
For the sake of accountability, I posted my picks a few days ago. It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek exercise, but there they are. For now, welcome home RIZIN! Otsukaresamadeshita!
The arena is already filled (given COVID restrictions) as the first fight of the night kicks off. The crowd is as eager for the return to Saitama as I am. It’s a somewhat historic fight as it’s the first women’s kickboxing fight in promotional history – I do not expect RIZIN history to wind up being a great catalogue of women’s kickboxing, but whatever. Panchan Rina is attractive and "not shy" meaning if you look hard on the internet you can probably see some skin, so she gets all the promotional push here. Her opponent Momoka is a wizened vet and I can imagine her pulling Panchan Rina aside backstage and saying in a gravelly Shinya Aoki voice, "Looks fade, toots." It’s a reasonably close fight and Panchan Rina takes the unanimous decision. I’m shocked!