Shinya Aoki (Evolve MMA)

Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix ‘Saraba’ Results: Aoki Stops Sakuraba

Rizin Fighting Federation held its first event on Tuesday, Dec 29, from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. The Saraba Festival (Farewell Festival) marked the first of two events scheduled for the days leading up to Japan’s honored tradition of holding high level martial arts on New Year’s Eve.

In the main event of the evening, Japanese legend Kazushi Sakuraba returned to face one of the best Japanese MMA fighters competing today, Shinya Aoki. Aoki had compiled wins over some of the best fighters in the world over his 12-year fighting career. The current ONE Championship lightweight champion had earned titles in Shooto and DREAM with victories over current and former top-10 fighters like Eddie Alvarez, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Gesias Cavalcante, Joachim Hansen, Caol Uno and many more.

The first day of the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix also featured the quarterfinals of the eight-man 100-kilogram tournament. The eight tournament participants were chosen to represent their promotions from eight different countries around the world. Representatives hailed from Bellator MMA, Jungle Fight, Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki (KSW), BAMMA, Bushido Europe and Gladiator Championship Fighting (GCF). The tournament featured a number of former and current champions with the most notable fighters being 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and former KSW light heavyweight champion Goran Reljić.


The first event of the three-day Rizin Fighting Federation expo aired live at 1 a.m. ET in Russia on MatchTV. The event will be broadcast on Spike TV in the United States on tape delay on Thursday.

Shinya Aoki def. Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO (corner stoppage). Round 1, 5:56
Jiri Prochazka def. Satoshi Ishii by knockout (punch and knee). Round 1, 1:36 – heavyweight tournament quarterfinal
Vadim Nemkov def. Goran Reljic by knockout (punches). Round 1, 2:58 – heavyweight tournament quarterfinal
Teodoras Aukstuolis def. Bruno Cappelozza by knockout (punch). Round 1, 3:32 – heavyweight tournament quarterfinal
Muhammed Lawal def. Brett McDermott by knockout (punch). Round 1, 9:10 – heavyweight tournament quarterfinal
Valentin Moldovsky def. Yuta Uchida by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:20 – heavyweight tournament reserve bout
Hiroyuki Takaya def. Dalki Hata by unanimous decision
Hideo Tokoro def. Kizaemon Saiga by submission (armbar). Round 1, 5:16
Anatoly Tokov def. A.J. Matthews by knockout (punch). Round 1, 0:55
K-1 Rules: Hiroya Kawabe def. Akiyo Nishiura by knockout (punch). Round 3, 1:19
Mixed Rules: Hinata Watanabe def. Kazuyuki Miyata by TKO (three knockdowns). Round 1, 2:44
Felipe Efrain def. Yuki Motoya by knockout (punches). Round 1, 5:45*
Kirill Sidelnikov def. Carlos Toyota by TKO (punches). Round 1, 2:23
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka def. James Thompson by TKO (punches). Round 2, 1:58

*Efrain missed weight and the fight was ruled a no-contest