After what will be nearly six months, RIZIN will be returning to action with back to back events. Taking place on Sunday 9th and Monday 10th August, RIZIN 22 and 23 will be held at the Pia Arena MM in Yokohama with a 50% capacity limit for spectators wishing to attend. Fighters confirmed for the comeback events include former UFC man Naoki Inoue and former super atomweight queen, Kanna Asakura.
Naoki Inoue (13-2) squares off against Shooto Watanabe (20-4-6, 1NC). Inoue went 1-1 in his stint with the UFC, and recently announced himself to the Japanese fans after going 9-0 in DEEP’s flyweight division, including an action-packed victory over Trent Girdham. Watanabe himself rides an 8-fight winning streak coming into this match up with 4 of those wins coming by submission.
Tetsuya Seki (12-6-1) puts his 9-fight unbeaten streak on the line against Yojiro Uchimura (17-13-3) in a featherweight bout. Seki is the ZST Featherweight Champion, winning the title at the end of 2017. Japanese veteran Uchimura has claimed 12 of his 17 wins via KO/TKO, and recently competed twice as a kickboxer. Seki will be looking to hand Uchimura his 3rd defeat in a row, while sending a message to fellow featherweights across Japan.
RIZIN 22 also marks the return of former Super Atomweight queen Kanna Asakura (16-4) as she takes on Mizuki Furuse (7-6). Despite her unassuming record, 19-year-old former amateur Shooto champion Furuse comes into this fight on a 4-fight win streak with 2 of those coming by stoppage. Asakura last appeared at Bellator Japan, with a commanding performance that culminated in a 3rd round kimura victory over Jayme Hinshaw.
Rounding off the announced bouts for RIZIN 22, Yusuke Yachi returns to action against fellow lightweight standout Roberto Satoshi Souza (8-2). Yachi halted a 3-fight skid with a soccer kick finish over Hiroto Uesako at Bellator Japan on New Year’s Eve, while Souza suffered the first defeat of his professional career in his last outing at RIZIN 19. With all of Souza’s professional bouts ending in a finish and 7 of Yachi’s 9 RIZIN appearances also coming by way of a finish, expect fireworks in this one.
Former ZST Flyweight champion Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) returns to the RIZIN ring after a 16-month layoff. His opponent at RIZIN 23 will be Makoto ‘Shinryu’ Takahashi (10-1-1). Takahashi is the DEEP Interim Flyweight Champion, winning the belt in June last year. This will certainly be the 20-year-old’s biggest test to date as he looks to send shockwaves through RIZIN’s flyweight division with an upset over the veteran Ito.
Former 2-weight and current DEEP Bantamweight Champion Yuki Motoya (24-8) is set to make his 8th appearance under Japan’s premier banner. After a hard-fought decision win over former DEEP Bantamweight Champion Takafumi Otsuka, he now takes on fellow veteran, Mamoru ‘Fullswing’ Uoi (22-8-5).
Motoya has a 3-3 (1NC) record in RIZIN, while Uoi makes his second appearance, his first coming by way of a spectacular soccer kick KO win over Kana Hyatt at RIZIN 16. With an impressive win, who knows how it will shake up the landscape at 135 pounds.
Elsewhere, Shooto Featherweight Champion Yutaka Saito (17-4-2) will square off against former Rebel FC Featherweight Champion Kazumasa Majima (14-1). Saito won the Shooto belt against Japanese legend Caol Uno back in 2017 and hasn’t looked back since with 3 of his 4 victories coming by way of KO. Majima hasn’t been beaten since 2014 and has notched up an impressive 11 finishes in his last 12 fights
In what is seen as a marquee matchup, Hiromasa Ogikubo (20-4-2) takes on Kai Asakura (14-2) in the bantamweight division. Ogikubo has taken on all comers, losing only twice since 2013 with both defeats coming against the mighty Kyoji Horiguchi. The man who last fought Horiguchi, Kai Asakura, is looking for redemption after coming up short in the vacant Bantamweight title match against Manel Kape.