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RIZIN 35 preview: Three title fights scheduled

Spring is certainly in full bloom as three title fights grace RIZIN’s latest offering.

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Back to this poster format, and it’s so good.
RIZIN MMA

RIZIN chose some premium violence for Easter weekend, which is somewhat fitting seeing the name of the organization and all.

The true spectacle element here is three title fights on one card, and they’re all full of action potential. Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza (13-1) defends his lightweight title against American wrestleboxer standout Johnny Case (27-7, 1 draw). Case is not just coming off a string of boxing wins, but his last MMA bout was a loss over Tofiq Musaev.

But Case’s fight before that? A thrilling win over de Souza!! So now we have a rematch with the belt on the line and the challenger holding a win over the champion. It’s fair to say neither fighter is the same as they were in 2019. de Souza not only has his BJJ acumen, he’s improved his striking and adapted it to shift to his grappling in a more effective manner.

Does Case have Roberto’s number? Can he claim the belt with another win over an established opponent? Or does Satoshi avenge his loss and keep the gold around his waist as he solidifies his legacy? We’ll find out, and it’ll be great.

The second title fight is another rematch, between Yutaka Saito (20-6, 2 draws) taking on Juntaro Ushiku (21-8, 1 draw). Their first encounter had a shocking ending, and this is lining up to be another fireworks show. Saito is a threat wherever he is and maximizes his potential in his fights when it comes the freedom that the RIZIN ruleset allows. Ushiku is the RIZIN and DEEP champion, and he’s a snappy striker with a good sprawl and an interminable gas tank. Both guys should be set for an unpredictable clash.

The third title fight? Another rematch. Ayaka Hamasaki (23-4) defends her title against Seika Izawa (5-0), whom she lost to in December in a non-title bout. Izawa is a grappling standout that became DEEP JEWELS strawweight champ and took on the more experienced Hamasaki to win a shocking upset. Can she do it again? It depends on what adjustments Hamasaki makes and what kind of growth Izawa has made in such a short turnaround. Expect this to be great as well.

Kanna Asakura (18-6) meets Satomi Takano (16-12), a DEEP JEWELS vet that is a seasoned grappler despite her checkered MMA record. It’s not a stretch to assume Kanna should be a major favorite here, and that’s fine. Wrestling standout Koji Takeda (13-2, he’s this guy) tests his abilities against former UFC and Bellator fighter Spike Carlyle (13-3) at lightweight.

You can check out the Preparation series that RIZIN produced ahead of the event, featurettes in the lead-up to the event. This one features Kanna Asakura:

Full card is as follows:

Roberto de Souza vs Johnny Case - RIZIN lightweight title fight

Juntaro Ushiku vs Yutaka Saito - Featherweight title fight

Ayaka Hamasaki vs Seika Izawa - Featherweight

Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs Mikio Ueda - Heavyweight

Kanna Asakura vs Satomi Takano - Super atomweight

Koji Takeda vs Spike Carlyle - Lightweight

Shoma Shibisai vs Rihards Bigis - Heavyweight

Yuki Motoya vs Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha

Vugar Karamov vs Taichi Nakajima - Featherweight

Takahiro Ashida vs Kyle Aguon - Featherweight

RIZIN 35 starts Saturday night into Sunday morning at midnight EST for western viewers, available for purchase at Live Now.