On Sunday, April 16, RIZIN Fighting Federation traveled to Yokohoma, Japan for RIZIN FF 2017 in Yokohoma: Sakura.
The main event featured Japanese MMA legend Tatsuya Kawajiri looking to defend his country’s honor against UFC veteran Anthony Birchak. Kawajiri made his return to Rizin after a disappointing debut against highly skilled grappler Kron Gracie on last year’s New Year’s Eve event. Birchak was out to prove the UFC brass wrong — the company cut him following a victory over Dileno Lopes at UFC Fight Night 90.
The aforementioned Horiguchi put his ranking on the line against surging Japanese flyweight Yuki Motoya. Horiguchi was unexpectedly cut from the UFC following seven wins and just one loss inside the Octagon. The former Deep champion Motoya had won 15 of his past 16.
Undefeated Japanese kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa returned to MMA in a quest for his third career win. He went up against Italian striker Francesco Ghigliotti. Nasukawa is a highly decorated kickboxer with 18 wins, no losses, and 14 knockouts. He picked up the Combat Press Kickboxing “Knockout of the Year” award for his victory over Lumpinee stadium champion Wanchalong as an 18-year-old.
There are several other key bouts on the evening’s card. Four-time shootboxing S-Cup champion Rena Kubota put her undefeated record on the line against Hungarian striker Dóra Perjés. 2008 Olympic gold medalist judoka Satoshi Ishii fought Pride and UFC veteran Heath Herring. Former PXC and Shooto champion Yusuke Yachi went to war against UFC veteran Daron Cruickshank. In the opening bout of the evening, the 23-year-old Zst flyweight champion Seiichiro Ito took on K-1 star Kizaemon Saiga.
The pay-per-view event, which costs $14.99 for purchase, aired live at 2 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 16, on Combat Press via FITE TV.