RIZIN New Year's Eve Preview
the JMMA tradition has been Omicron'ed
This may be my last live RIZIN event. I’m leaving Japan in a few months and while it’s totally possible I’ll be back in the future, I’m not all that confident RIZIN will be here when I return. I noted their precarious financial situation in a recent post, but to compound matters, Omicron has closed the Japanese borders (again) and no foreign fighters based outside of Japan will be on the NYE card. So the annual massive JMMA fight extravaganza will be a lot less massive and slightly-above-average-ganza.* Nice looking poster though.
*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the weirdly timed announcement of Tenshin vs. Takeru, the uber, epic, everybody-has-been-waiting-for-forever, wonder kickboxing match. The fight is scheduled to take place in June, but was announced - with a day’s notice for the press conference - on Christmas Eve. When I heard about the presser a week before the NYE event it seemed unbelievable: Tenshin and Takeru are gonna headline NYE on a week’s notice?! That’s amazing! Wow, FujiTV must have put up some big bucks for that and/or are super worried about the New Year’s Eve ratings. But no, it was unbelievable for a reason, and probably far preferable from a sporting perspective to let these guys prepare for such an epic fight.
As far as the fight goes, I’ll believe it when I see it, or at least in April or May with no impending global cataclysmic event on the horizon. The less said about Tenshin’s role on NYE the better - he’s got a 2-round boxing exhibition scheduled with Takanori Gomi. In fairness, watching Gomi beat up on Kouzi in an exhibition at RIZIN 26 was actually pretty fun, but I don’t see that happening again.
According to Gomi, “This offer was given to me two weeks ago. I was surprised at the moment but I felt bad for Tenshin running out of opponents so I decided to take the fight.” He then shrugged and pounded a PBR.
Otherwise, there are some potentially entertaining and even high-level MMA fights to be seen at RIZIN 33, most especially the conclusion of the Bantamweight Grand Prix. I had a blast watching the last round and am excited to see the final few fights, along with the old school MMA feature of two fights in one night for the finalists.
My prediction for the final since the tournament was announced has been Kai Asakura vs. Naoki Inoue. I have no reason to change that now. Who wins that fight really depends on what happens earlier in the night, how much damage they take in their first fight, but I’ll pick Inoue to come out fresh from a first round finish of Hiromasa Ougikubo, while Asakura takes Scary Kenta by TKO in the second. The alternates will go unutilized, but I’ll pick Kintaro after his much-better-than-I-expected display in the previous round. The final will either be an iffy Asakura decision victory or an Inoue finish. Head says former, heart says latter.
There’s very little reason to run back Satoshi Souza vs. my man Yusuke Yachi, and Souza should take it easily by whatever he wants. I’ll take Mikuru Asakura to avenge his close upset loss to Yutaka Saito, despite a supposed injury.
Mikuru says, “Saito taught me that this sport isn’t easy. Now I’m motivated to be fighting tough fighters and keep on challenging.” Then he beat up some random amateur and shot an ad for luxury watches.
The rest of the fights are below. PPV ordering information is here. Enjoy the show and Happy New Year. 🧧🍾🎉
I’ll be back on January second-ish with a report from the ground.✌️🍕
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