On Sunday, Sept. 30, Rizin Fighting Federation held its biggest event to date from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, for Rizin.13.
Following the tragic loss of Japanese combat sports superstar Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto this month, two generational talents from their respective combat sports competed in a monumental clash featuring two of Japan’s best. Yamamoto’s protege Kyoji Horiguchi will strap on the big gloves when he crosses over into kickboxing to take on undefeated 20-year-old phenom Tenshin Nasukawa, just like his former coach did against the greatest Japanese kickboxer to ever live, Masato, at K-1 Dynamite in 2004. In many ways, the storylines are parallel. Yamamoto was virtually unstoppable under MMA rules. In three short years, he destroyed much of his competition with a combination of high-level wrestling and unmatched athleticism. Despite very little experience in the striking martial arts, Yamamoto took on the best fighter in Japan under his own rules. His willingness to challenge himself against the 2003 K-1 MAX world champion elevated not only himself, but martial arts in Japan. The hope is that this battle of budding stars could re-invigorate kakutougi in Japan, just like “Kid” and Masato did before them.
In addition to the headliner, Mirko Cro Cop returned against streaking heavyweight Roque Martinez, former Invicta FC atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki met DEEP titleholder Mina Kurobe, and former UFC fighters Diego Brandão and Daron Cruickshank will clashed at lightweight.
On the kickboxing portion of the card, former K-1 world champion Taiga made his RIZIN debut against RISE 125 tournament winner Kento Haraguchi, who is just 20 years old.
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