On Sunday, Sept. 25, former Pride Fighting Championship boss Noboyuki Sakakibara brings Rizin Fighting Federation back to the Saitama Super Arena in Japan for the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: 1st Round.
In the main event of the evening, one of the best grapplers in the world, Kron Gracie, returns to Rizin for his third professional MMA fight. The multiple-time BJJ world champion has earned first-round submission victories in first two fights. Gracie faces his toughest opponent to date, the Japanese MMA legend Hideo Tokoro, when he returns to the ring after submitting rising prospect Asen Yamamoto in his most recent outing. Tokoro has won 33 fights including 19 submissions and 5 knockouts in his 16-year career. Tokoro was successful in his Rizin debut when he locked up an armbar on the former K-1 veteran Kizaemon Saiga in the promotion’s inaugural event.
In the co-main event of the evening, multiple-time freestyle wrestling world champion Miyu Yamamoto makes the move to MMA just like her son, Asen, did on the last Rizin show. Yamamoto is the sister of one of Japan’s biggest MMA stars, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. She makes her debut at the age of 42. Yamamoto will fight one of Japan’s most popular female combat sports stars, Rena Kubota. She returns to Rizin for her second professional MMA bout after a successful Shootboxing career that features wins over UFC veteran Seo Hee Ham and top-10 atomweight Mei Yamaguchi. Rena won her MMA debut against Jleana Valentino with a flying armbar on last year’s Rizin card on New Year’s Eve.
In the opening round of the 2016 Rizin World Grand Prix, Pride openweight grand prix winner Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic takes on former K-1 kickboxer and ROAD FC veteran Hyun Man Myung. Japanese MMA mainstay Kazuyuki Fujita takes on one of Sumo’s fastest rising stars making his transition to MMA, Baruto Kaito. Jiri Prochazka returns to Rizin against Lebanese heavyweight Mark Tanios. Unbeaten prospects Valentin Moldavsky and Karl Albrektsson meet for positioning in the field of 16. Former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Amir Aliakbari fights Jungle Fight 100-kilogram champion Joao Almeida. Lithuanian prospect Teodoras Aukstuolis takes on KSW veteran Szymon Bajor.
In the rest of the evening’s action, kickboxing legend Andy Souwer returns to Rizin for his second MMA rules bout against UFC veteran Daron Cruickshank. The current top-10 featherweight kickboxer “Minoru” Kimura makes his MMA debut against Pride and EliteXC veteran Charles “Felony” Bennett (formerly Krazy Horse). Former K-1 veteran Kizaemon Saiga meets 20-year-old Asen Yamamoto in a battle of young Japanese prospects. Multiple-time Japanese national wrestling champion Kanako Murata takes on rising Combate Americas prospect Kyra Batara. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Gabi Garcia fights the undefeated Destanie Yarbrough.
Miyu Yamamoto (107) vs. Rena Kubota (107)
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (230) vs. Hyun Man Myung (253) – openweight grand prix first round
Baruto Kaito (401) vs. Kazuyuki Fujita (248) – openweight grand prix first round
Andy Souwer (156) vs. Daron Cruickshank (154)
Kizaemon Saiga (136) vs. Asen Yamamoto (136)
Jiri Prochazka (215) vs. Mark Tanios (238) – openweight grand prix first round
Karl Albrektsson (231) vs. Valentin Moldavsky (217) – openweight grand prix first round
Amir Aliakbari (252) vs. Joao Almeida (233) – openweight grand prix first round
Teodoras Aukstuolis (227) vs. Szymon Bajor (246) – openweight grand prix first round
Minoru Kimura (146) vs. Charles Bennett (146)
Kanako Murata (115) vs. Kyra Batara (114)
Gabi Garcia (245) vs. Destanie Yarbrough (226)