RIZIN Landmark 1: +WEED WARS
w/ just a little Bellator 267 and a whole lotta RIZIN tech SNAFUS
It’s the day before the fights and after a bit of hassle, I’ve finally managed to sign up for UNEXT. I’ve got my 30 day “free” trial and 600 bonus points, which I can use to pay down the substantial ¥3800 RIZIN Landmark price tag.
Browsing the site, it seems like they’ve got a good number of Western movies, including Fight Pizza Movie Night selections Mortal Kombat and Boss Level. They’ve got Golgo 13, which I’ve been re-watching since the recent news of creator Takao Saito’s death. They’ve got Cats in Ainoshima, which is certainly can’t miss viewing. I see they also have quite a lot of porn. Point being, I have 30 days of entertainment at least. Maybe this is not such a bad deal after all.
If that first bit is confusing, like why the fuck do I care about some Japanese streaming site, UNEXT is the only way to watch RIZIN Landmark. Who knows how long this arrangement lasts, or how long RIZIN Landmark is even a thing (I suspect not so long), but that’s where we are now so, well, tough shit.
The next day dawns too early for me, 5AM to be precise, as for some damn reason I set my alarm to get up for a fucking Bellator show. But it’s MVP, man, MVP! In typical Belly fashion, we get an illegal strike no contest, a boring WMMA co-main with two inexperienced fighters, and a tepid main event. The biggest positive for me was Luke Trainer who seems like someone fun to watch at LHW.
As far as the main, well, MVP against top competition is not very much fun. MVP against average or below average competition is wicked fun. Against the top guys, he’s just too cautious to do his trademark wild shit that’s the reason we want to watch him in the first place. Despite his gifted victory against Douglas Lima early this morning, I’d much rather see Lima get another shot at Champ Yaroslav Amosov and have MVP go fight in ONE or something. Bellator Banished.
RIZIN Landmark 1
For fuck’s sake… now UNEXT doesn’t work.
What an absolute crock of shit. And so typically RIZIN to fuck something up that should be so simple, like getting a streaming service that actually works, or you know maybe testing it. I bitched about this when they first announced the deal. Why not go with a service that streams live sporting events, like DAZN for example? Or ABEMA, with tons of Japanese combat sports already? No, no, let’s do the porn and anime site. We’re RIZIN. We’re special.
Rather than post a bunch of translated tweets, take my word for the fact that this error is widespread and everyone is annoyed. This one’s kind of funny though, he says he paid $35 for wallpaper.
UNEXT has announced a delay to the start time. No shit.
Fifty minutes or so after the scheduled start my app is working, though the web is still down, and CEO Sakakibara comes on to apologize and whatnot and says we’ll get going in ten minutes. What more do you expect from +WEED WARS?
They are doing some videos and introductions now, but I don’t really give a fuck cause I’m still sort of annoyed and popping popcorn.
Shooto Watanabe vs. Nobutaka Naito
Shooto’s a good fighter who had the misfortune of getting an amped Kai Asakura in the first round of the Bantamweight Grand Prix. I don’t know much about his opponent Naito other than he was a short-notice replacement for the original opponent who got the COVID and Naito ironically has lots of fights in the Shooto promotion.
Naito walks out to some ska and looks scared or insane. Hiromasa Ougikubo’s in his corner. Shooto looks calm with his girlfriend? in the corner. Naito’s Shooto experience does not help him with Shooto. He is out within two minutes by a d’arce. It was very obvious this would happen as soon as Naito started the fight desperate to stay away from Shooto and Shooto got the takedown. They really should have matched Shooto up with Imanari, who fights next.
Masazaku Imanari vs. Takeshi Kasugai
I know this is blasphemy to say but, aside from the Sade, Imanari’s recent fights just suck. Road to ONE 3 was like watching very timid paint dry. His match up with villainous madman #ScaryKenta Takizawa at RIZIN 29 was just stupid. Let’s hope Takeshi Kasugai has something to offer more than slowly outpointing Imanari from a distance, or, God forbid, Imanari changes his tactics slightly, knowing he’s going to lose yet another dull as fuck fight. Ask yourself, What Would Shinya Aoki Do?
Kasugai’s nickname “Kanten” means like a type of jelly for making sweets so let’s see if he can blob around Imanari’s limb manipulation. I like Kasugai’s walkout to 50s sounding pop carrying a bail of rice or some shit (It’s actually the same thing as his nickname, like the raw material or something?). Imanari with the trademark Sade and a serious mien.
Kasugai is willing to strike early which is a nice change of pace for an Imanari opponent. I really think someone can just shut the old man’s lights out fairly quickly if they pursue it (and don’t get a limb ripped off).
Kasugai got a limb ripped off. In this case an arm, after following Imanari to the ground and attempting some decent ground and pound. Another first round finish. Back to the drawing board on how to beat this dude in a somewhat interesting fight.
Hiroaki Suzuki vs. Keisuke Okuda
I don’t really know what to make of this fight but that’s probably because I have no real knowledge of or affinity for pro wrestling. (I guess I’ve probably seen Suzuki fight in ONE at some point but I don’t remember.) Clearly it’s a popular fight as these two faced off in the ring at RIZIN 30 and it’s the co-main (such as one exists on a four fight card), but it’s out of my purview so I’ll just sit back and watch.
The pro wrestler gets kicked in the face staring at the striker’s legs in preparation for a takedown. Shortly thereafter he gets kneed in the head. Fight’s done. Totally overmatched dude loses quickly in the first round. Surprise!
Mikuru Asakura vs. Kyohei Hagiwara
Here ‘tis. The one we’ve been waiting for. Probably the biggest star currently in RIZIN against the brash, wild, pot-smokin’ youngun’. If you paid nigh 35 bucks for this card, this is what you were paying for. I’m on the record thinking Hagiwara is gonna get his ass kicked and I’m sticking with that as a strong possibility. Mikuru walks out looking loose and like he’s ready to have fun fucking this dude up. Brother Kai in the corner of course. Kyohei does not look intimidated however, which is sort of his beauty: his irrational confidence.
Mikuru opens the fight cautiously and they're trading kicks then he weirdly goes for a takedown which he gets. Kyohei reverses and has Mikuru in some danger from stomps then a guillotine. Mikuru with another takedown and continues to control on the ground but doesn’t do much to see out the round.
Round two begins much the same as round one and carries on in the same fashion until Mikuru takes Kyohei’s back and is just wearing on him rather than going for subs. I did not expect these tactics from Mikuru at all, but here we are getting ready for round three and Mikuru is easily winning the point battle.
Mikuru seems a bit more open with his strikes to start the third but then goes for the takedown. Midway through the round he lands some nasty grounded knees and hammerfists but can’t finish. He sees out the fight for an easy unanimous victory. We’re talking 30-26 if it was on points. Not what I expected at all, but clearly a smart and effective game plan. The main event goes the full fifteen which is like twice as long as the previous three fights. It was a real big-brothering from Mikuru. Impressive if not spectacular.
Afterwards, Mikuru talks to Champ Saito and they agree to fight soon, but I’m not entirely sure when. That’s it.
So Rizin Landmark…
❌ - was an overly expensive tech disaster for 90 minutes with short poorly matched fights aside from the main once it finally started. Also, there’s no LANDMARK. It looks like some studio. (The intro in the Tokyo storm tunnels was cool.)
✅ - was a breezy watch once it got started and showed Mikuru is still a top dog in RIZIN.
Shrug emoji… If they do it again, they need to do A LOT better.
Other RIZIN News
Several of the “battle cards” and a poster have been released for RIZIN 31 which takes place in Yokohama on October 24th. The poster reminds me a bit of Stuart Smalley from SNL: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.”
Not a super thrilling line up so far made up mostly of Pancrase and DEEP vets, but there are a few interesting fights. (My fear, which I may develop further on another occasion, is that COVID has effectively turned RIZIN into an also-ran regional promotion that it will remain until it is mismanaged out of business.)
Most curious though, there’s no opponent for above “I-really-am-the-Champion” Saito. You’d think it’s not likely a rematch with Mikuru on a 3-week turnaround (and he seemed to say as much). Kleber Koike is the natural pick so one must wonder why that isn’t the fight. I’ve heard rumors of ducking fights or faking injuries but that’s some Dana White bullshit and it’s almost certainly money. That should be the fight and the winner should fight Mikuru on NYE.
A late November event has been announced as well for Okinawa. You would have to presume it’s going to be an extraordinarily thin card leading up to New Year’s Eve’s typically stacked lineup but we’ll see.
Speaking of New Year’s Eve, all signs/tweets are leading to NYE being Tofiq Musayev’s last fight in RIZIN before heading to the UFC or elsewhere. I suspected the Tokyo Dome loss to Satoshi Souza may have been his last, but I guess he has one more on the contract. A rematch with Souza?
Stay tuned to Fight Pizza for future RIZIN (and ONE) news and events.