On Tuesday, Dec. 31, Rizin Fighting Federation visited the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan for its 20th numbered event.
Rizin 20 featured three title showdowns, a one-night lightweight tournament, two kickboxing affairs, and plenty of additional star power.
The Rizin bantamweight title was up for grabs between contenders Kai Asakura and Manel Kape. The 26-year-old Asakura was already a rising star within the promotion before he stunned Kyoji Horiguchi with a 68-second knockout in a non-title affair in August. He has since added a 54-second finish of Ulka Sasaki to his resume. In addition, he’s already eked out a split verdict over his upcoming opponent. Kape has gone 3-1 since his previous loss to Asakura, and all three of his wins in this stretch have come via stoppage.
The women’s atomweight title was on the line when champion Ayaka Hamasaki collided with challenger Seo Hee Ham. These two ladies have been at the top of the division for quite some time, and they’ve even battled each other on two previous occasions. In their first encounter, which took place in late 2010, Hamasaki decisioned her South Korean foe. In a rematch exactly one year later, Ham only lasted a round. Since their last fight, Hamasaki has gone 13-2 and captured additional gold with Invicta FC and Rizin. Ham has posted a 12-3 mark in the years that followed, but her losses came in an ill-advised move to strawweight for a stint in the UFC.
Rizin and Bellator had hoped to book a battle of champions in the light-heavyweight division between Rizin’s Jiří Procházka and Bellator’s Ryan Bader, but the fight did not come to fruition. Instead, Procházka defended his crown against C.B. Dollaway, who recently requested his release from the UFC while serving a two-year suspension from the USADA.
The one-night tournament showcases Bellator’s Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Rizin’s Johnny Case. Pitbull met 10-1 upstart Luiz Gustavo in the semifinals. Case drew the 16-3 Tofiq Musaev for his first fight of the evening.
The 2018 year-end show featured kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a modified-rules bout against legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. This year, Nasukawa got a more traditional kickboxing match against Rui Ebata. In other kickboxing action, Taiga Kawabe squared off with Taiju Shiratori.
The stacked lineup also featured such notable names as John “Macapá” Teixeira, Lindsey VanZandt, Rena Kubota, Satoshi Ishii, Shintaro Ishiwatari, Hiromasa Ogikubo and Miyuu Yamamoto.
The festivities kicked off at 1 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 31. The event aired live on Combat Press via Fite TV pay-per-view stream.