Wednesday, May 24, 2017

RIZIN’s World GP series has become part of its staple concepts ever since their launch in 2015. King Mo was crowned the winner of the monumental -220 lbs GP in 2015. Mirko Crocop won the Openweight GP last year by finishing all four opponents. Now in 2017, RIZIN will be holding its World GP at Bantamweight (-135).

The opening rounds of the 14 man tournament (with 2 wild card slots) for the Quarter Finals, will be executed over the course of 2 events – 3 fights for Bracket A on July 30th, and 3 fights for Bracket B in October. The total of 6 winners from the opening round plus the 2 wild card fighters who get the bye, will gather on December 29th for the quarter finals. The winner of the GP will earn 15,000,000 Japanese yen ($135,000), Second place with 3,000,000 Japanese yen ($27,000) and Third place at 1,000,000 Japanese yen ($9,000,000).

[Bantamweight GP opening round Bracket A]
Kyoji Horiguchi vs Hideo Tokoro
Anthony Birchak vs Takafumi Otsuka
Keita Ishibashi vs Khalid Taha

“We are excited to be able to have several Japanese champions participating in the GP,” said Chairman Nobuyuki Sakakibara. “We weren’t able reach out to Japanese promotions for the bigger fighters since very few of them are active, but at this weight class, there are tons on talent, and this will be a great way for these champions to test themselves against international opponents.”

Former UFC title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi (9-2) shocked the MMA world when he announced his departure from the UFC to participate in the promotion in his home country. The former Shooto world champion dominated his promotional debut against Japan’s top flyweight Yuki Motoya, showing that he has no competition at the Flyweight division. His opponent Hideo Tokoro (34-29-2) is the Japanese fan favorite who is coming off of a beautiful submission win in just 79 seconds. The seasoned veteran has fought in various promotions throughout the world and is looking to make his last challenge in winning the biggest title in his career.

Anthony Birchak (13-4) is another fighter who has chosen to part ways with the UFC and join the Japanese based promotion. Even though he had a bitter promotional debut by coming up short against Tatsuya Kawajiri in a Featherweight bout, RIZIN brass thought the former MFC champion has performed well enough to give him a spot in the World GP. DEEP Bantamweight champion Takafumi Otsuka (22- 13-2) just defended his title to earn himself the spot in the GP to represent his organization. The veteran has excellent wrestling along with great conditioning which brings a high paced fight and has not lost for the last 2 and a half years.

Shooto Pacific rim champion Keita Ishibashi (8-5-2) has had a rough road to earn himself this opportunity to represent his organization. The submission specialist went 1-4 after making his professional debut, but after fully committing himself to the sport and making adjustments in his training, he has turned his career around with an impressive 7-1-2 record with all wins coming by submission.

The current Fair FC Bantamweight champion Khalid Taha (10-0) is one of the top prospects coming out of both Germany and Europe. The undefeated 24 year old has 6 KO victory wins which proves that he has the knockout power and is a threat to anybody in his division.

Four fights outside of the GP were announced:
Tenshin Nasukawa vs Kizaemon
Saiga Miyuu Yamamoto vs Cassie Robb
Satoru Kitaoka vs Yusuke Yachi
KING Reina vs Seini Draughn

Rising prospect Reina Miura AKA King Reina (4-0) is taking on woman’s pro wrestling star Seini Draughn AKA Lei’D Tapa (1-0) at 88kg. A 70kg battle between Satoru Kitaoka (40-14-9) and Yusuke Yachi (17-6) will be fighting a style vs style matchup. Both fighters are coming off of wins against UFC veteran Daron Cruickshank. A true pioneer for woman’s Japanese wrestling Myuu Yamamoto (0-2) will be looking to make her first promotional win against striker Cassie Robb (2-4) who has been training with Rose Namajunas in Denver, Colorado at 49kgs. Kickboxing Phenom Tenshin Nasukawa (3-0 MMA / 19-0 kickboxing) and the Karate prince Kizaemon Saiga (3-3 MMA / 15-6 kickboxing) have agreed to face off in July 30th. Weight and rules are yet to be determined.

RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION WORLD GRAND-PRIX 2017 Bantamweight Tournament Opening round – SUMMER Doors open at 12:30 pm, Opening Ceremony at 2:00 pm on July 30th at the Saitama Super Arena. Tickets can be purchased at www.stubhub.com

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