Rizin Fighting Federation returned for the first time in 2019 from the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, for Rizin 15.
The inaugural Rizin light heavyweight title was on the line when 2015 Rizin heavyweight grand prix champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal me the man he defeated to win the grand prix, Jiří Procházka. Since losing that bout, Procházka has defeated seven straight opponents, including former Bellator middleweight champion Brandon Halsey, light heavyweight contender Vadim Nemkov, and Sweden’s Karl Albrektsson.
Rizin bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi took on UFC flyweight castoff Ben Nguyen. Since leaving the UFC with a 7-1 record, Horiguchi had won eight straight fights, including stoppages over Bellator champ Darrion Caldwell, former consensus No. 1 flyweight Ian McCall, and former King of Pancrase Shintaro Ishiwatari. Nguyen couldn’t return to the win column after back-to-back defeats against current top contender Jussier “Formiga” da Silva and former title challenger Wilson Reis prior to his UFC departure.
The promotion’s biggest star, undefeated Japanese kickboxing phenom Tenshin Nasukawa, returned against exciting Filipino striker Fritz Biagtan, who recently won the WBC Muay Thai national title in his home country. Nasukawa returned to the promotion for the first time since his loss to boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. at Rizin 14. Following the exhibition loss to his much bigger, more experienced foe, the 20-year-old made a thrilling return by stopping Argentina’s Frederico Roma with a cartwheel kick in the third round of their RISE World Series 2019 opening round bout in March.
Undefeated Brazilian Luiz Gustavo couldn’t keep his hype-train rolling down the tracks against exciting Japanese striker Mikuru Asakura, who has now won five straight fights. Former UFC lightweight Damien Brown met undefeated Deep lightweight champion Koji Takeda, former Pancrase, Deep and Sengoku champ Satoru Kitaoka engaged in a grappling contest with undefeated Brazilian grappling wizard Roberto “Satoshi” de Souza, and former ZST flyweight champion Seiichiro Ito met Angola’s Manel Kape. Four-time Shoot Boxing women’s S-Cup champ Rena Kubota returned to MMA against French striker Samantha Jean-Francois in another of the night’s featured bouts.
Rizin 15 aired live at 1 a.m. ET Sunday morning on Combat Press via Fite TV.