Sixteen fighters are set for action in the Rizin FF bantamweight grand prix, but only one will pocket the grand prize.
On Monday, the promotion announced details of the 135-pound tournament, which includes a host of Rizin’s top names, including former champion Kai Asakura, leg lock legend Masakazu Imanari and former finalist of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Hiromasa Ogikubo.
The first round will take place across two Rizin FF events in May, with subsequent rounds through the year culminating in the tournament finale, with the winner set to pocket ¥10,000,000 JPY (approximately $91,000). The runner-up will earn ¥5,000,0000 JPY (approximately $45,000).
The eight opening-round matchups were set in a live draw that was streamed on YouTube. The first-round matchups include:
- Takafumi Otsuka (28-17-2) vs. Hiroki Yamashita (billed as “Shian”) (8-8)
- Kuya Ito (10-8-1) vs. Yuto Hokamura (billed as “Kintaro”) (13-9-2)
- Yuki Motoya (27-9) vs. Ryo Okada (17-4-3)
- Kai Asakura (16-3) vs. Shooto Watanabe (22-5-6)
- Kenta Takizawa (11-7) vs. Masakazu Imanari (38-19-2)
- Kazuma Kuramoto (8-1) vs. Alan Yamaniwa (17-8-4)
- Takeshi Kasugai (26-7-1) vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (21-5-2)
- Naoki Inoue (15-2) vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari (26-8-4)
After the matchups were set, Asakura was given the opportunity, as a former Rizin FF champion, to swap places with any other fighter in the draw. He declined the offer and kept his originally-drawn matchup.
The eight opening-round fights will be split between two events. Four of the bouts will be part of the fight card at Rizin FF 28, which takes place Sunday, May 23 at the Tokyo Dome, which has an event capacity between 42,000 and 55,000 spectators. Currently, the arena has a permitted capacity of 10,000 due to COVID restrictions, but Rizin FF officials are hopeful the arena capacity could be increased to 50 percent of its full capacity by the day of the fights.
The remaining four fights will be contested at Rizin FF 29, which takes place Sunday, May 30 at Maruzen Intech Arena in Osaka.
This was originally published on www.mmajunkie.com