Charles "Felony" Bennett (Sachiko Hotaka/Rizin FF)

Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016 Preview and Predictions

The Rizin Fighting Federation returns to the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo for the second year of its annual year-end World Grand Prix tournament, which features two events in three days. The first event, the Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: Second Round, takes place on Thursday, Dec. 29. The Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2016: Final Round takes place on Saturday, Dec. 31.

The first event features the quarterfinals of the 16-man openweight grand prix tournament, which features last year’s Rizin heavyweight world grand prix tournament champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, 2006 Pride openweight grand prix champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, UFC and Pride veteran Heath Herring and beloved Estonian sumo superstar Baruto, among other rising prospects and grizzled veterans.

The 2015 Rizin world grand prix champion Lawal takes on UFC and Pride superstar Cro Cop in the evening’s main event and the final tournament quarterfinal. Lawal takes the place of Wanderlei Silva in the originally scheduled third bout between the former Pride FC champion and Filipovic. In other tournament action, former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Amir Aliakbari looks to further his budding MMA career against tournament replacement Heath Herring, tournament darling Baruto meets Japanese MMA legend Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, and undefeated Ukrainian prospect Valentin Moldavsky takes on PLMMA heavyweight champion Szymon Bajor. The four quarterfinal winners will meet in the semifinals during the event on New Year’s Eve to determine who will fight in the finals of the 2016 Rizin World Grand Prix in the final fight before the new year.


The Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Second Round also features a plethora of young Japanese MMA talent, including 18-year-old striking phenom Tenshin Nasukawa, multiple-time world wrestling champion Kanako Murata and budding 19-year-old prospect Kanna Asakura. Deep champions Satoru Kitaoka, Tatsumitsu Wada and Yuki Motoya take on foreign challengers in the form of former UFC veteran Daron Cruickshank, The Ultimate Fighter 24 semifinalist Kai Kara-France and Allan Nascimento, respectively. Finally, two-time K-1 MAX champion Andy Souwer returns to MMA against former Olympic freestyle wrestler and longtime Japanese MMA vet Kazuyuki Miyata.

The Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Final Round is loaded with legends of Japanese MMA and high-level participants from other combat sports. In the co-main event of the evening, former top-10 featherweight Tatsuya Kawajiri takes on high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion turned mixed martial artist Kron Gracie, the son of the famed Rickson Gracie. Filling out the main card, Japanese MMA legend Hideo Tokoro looks to excite the crowd against rising prospect Erson Yamamoto, multiple-time shootboxing S-Cup champion Rena Kubota returns to MMA against undefeated Polish striker Hanna “Tyson” Gujwan, former K-1 fighter Kizaemon Saiga takes on South Africa’s Dillin West, high-level grappler Gabi Garcia meets Japanese pro wrestler Shinobu Kandori, and Japanese MMA legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai makes his much-anticipated return against Japanese pro-wrestling champion and Pride FC veteran Wataru Sakata.

The Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Second Round airs live Thursday, Dec. 29, at 1 a.m. ET on EversportTV. The Rizin World Grand Prix: Final Round airs live Saturday, Dec. 31, at 1 a.m. ET on EversportTV.

Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Second Round Predictions
Fight Prediction
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal Lawal by decision
Baruto vs. Tsuyoshi Kohsaka Kohsaka by decision
Amir Aliakbari vs. Heath Herring Aliakbari by first-round knockout
Valentin Moldavsky vs. Szymon Bajor Moldavsky by decision
Kanako Murata vs. Rin Nakai Murata by decision
Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Nikita Sapun Nasukawa by decision
Andy Souwer vs. Kazuyuki Miyata Souwer by first-round knockout
Yuki Motoya vs. Allan Nascimento Motoya by decision
Tatsumitsu Wada vs. Kai Kara-France Wada by decision
Yusuke Yachi vs. Mario Sismundo Yachi by first-round knockout
Vadim Nemkov vs. Alison Vicente Nemkov by first-round knockout
Kanna Asakura vs. Alyssa Garcia Asakura by decision
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Daron Cruickshank Kitaoka by first-round submission
Rizin World Grand Prix: Final Round Predictions
Fight Prediction
Projected Tournament Final: Aliakbari vs. Lawal Lawal by decision
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Kron Gracie Gracie by decision
Hideo Tokoro vs. Erson Yamamoto Tokoro by first-round submission
Rena Kubota vs. Hanna Tyson Rena by decision
Miyuu Yamamoto vs. Andy Nguyen Yamamoto by decision
Kizaemon Saiga vs. Dillin West Saiga by first-round knockout
Gabi Garcia vs. Yumiko Hotta Garcia by first-round submission
Hayato “Mach” Sakurai vs. Wataru Sakata Sakurai by first-round knockout
Projected Tournament Semifinal: Lawal vs. Kohsaka Lawal by decision
Projected Tournament Semifinal: Moldavsky vs. Aliakbari Aliakbari by decision
Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett vs. Minoru Kimura Kimura by first-round knockout