Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
Apologies for the slight delay as the holidays had us all in a tizzy, but “no excuses, play like a champion” as they say, so I’m here (sans Meshew) to get us all caught up on the violence that may have escaped your attention as you were jousting with the in-laws or working on that perfect reaction to that give you never really wanted.
Make sure you check out the 2018 Missed Fists Awards a.k.a. “The Fistys” that we handed out on Christmas Eve last week. We’ll soon return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Kana Watanabe vs. Shizuka Sugiyama
Ai Shimizu vs. Nanaka Kawamura
Our very first edition of Missed Fists was essentially a Rizin showcase and while the promotion isn’t quite as overlooked as it was when the year began (booking Floyd Mayweather will bring you notoriety real quick), it’s only fitting that we start 2019 looking at Japan’s top promotion as well.
While our own Guilherme Cruz has already provided all the coverage you need on the New Year’s Eve portion of the show, what many may not have realized is that Rizin had another event on Dec. 30 also at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan: Heisei’s Last Yarennoka!
Headlined by a featherweight bout between Japanese veterans Satoru Kitaoka and Tatsuya Kawajiri, the card actually featured a pair of female fights earlier in the card that are definitely of note.
First, Kana Watanabe’s 11-second TKO of Shizuka Sugiyama:
Stoppage definitely looks early to me, but 11 seconds is 11 seconds and Sugiyama looked legitimately hurt walking right into Watanabe’s counter punches. Sugiyama is no slouch either having competed 23 times since making her debut back in 2008. This was Watanabe’s first KO and the 30-year-old flyweight improved to 5-0-1.
The opening atomweight bout on the card saw Ai Shimizu make her pro debut against slasher film enthusiast Nanaka Kawamura, who made quite the entrance to say the least:
Eat your heart out, Rony Jason! Once the bell rang, however, I’m not sure even a real chainsaw would have saved Kawamura from the beating she ended up receiving.
Yikes. That is straight-up breaking someone’s will.
The main card had a ton of great women’s action as well that may have flown under the radar, with Poland’s Justyna Haba handing Shinju Nozawa-Auclair her first loss by pounding on her before sending her to dreamland:
And Miyuu Yamamoto picking up a decision win in her second fight since the untimely passing of her brother, the beloved Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto.
You know what? Let’s just do a rundown of five notable things to happen at Rizin 14 as well, shall we?
Fixed or not fixed? Here’s my two cents.
There are elements here of what we’d call a “worked shoot” in pro wrestling. I think the whole booking of the fight was a “work”, which is to say it was never meant to be a competitive contest and you best believe Mayweather was going to beat Tenshin Nasukawa whether it was legitimate or not. But it actually played out as a “shoot”, an actual fight.
Nasukawa, gifted as he is, could only be viewed as a heavy, heavy underdog going up against one of the greatest boxers of all-time, competing under Mayweather’s ruleset, and giving up at least 20 pounds and 20 years of experience. And were Mayweather to participate in a kickboxing match against Nasukawa, the reverse would likely be just as true aside from the size difference and Nasukawa having to go a long way before achieving the same notoriety in his sport.
If anything, Nasukawa being competitive against Mayweather would have been far more unbelievable. And I’m not sure his flopping around is that cartoonish compared to how people usually look when they get hit hard (the degree of which is impossible to tell unless you’re the person actually being hit). Heck, we gave out an award for the best clip of a fighter falling down funny!
What’s more unrealistic? That a boxing legend embarrassed an undersized 20-year-old or that this fixed fight is somehow part of some vast conspiracy to achieve… what exactly? There has to be a reason to fix a fight, so what would be the purpose of fixing this one? Just to get a burst of publicity from having Mayweather involved? And if that was the case, wouldn’t the fix have been less obvious?
That’s the one thing people seem to forget when they start throwing around the word “fixed fight”: They’re not supposed to look fixed!
That said, I understand the skepticism, especially since the setup for the whole matchup was bizarre and unclear from day one, and Nasukawa is really zipping around from those punches. Not to mention the fact that there certainly are fighters in Japan who don’t do the best job of hiding that they’re just showing up to collect a paycheck, to put it kindly (*couch* Bob Sapp *cough*).
But I’m of the opinion that the fight itself wasn’t staged. Everything else around it? Questionable.
At what point do we start talking about where Kyoji Horiguchi stands among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world? This is a top-3 flyweight, who has been competing and dominating at 135 pounds, picking up a submission win over Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell. Credit to Caldwell for taking a dangerous fight, and even more to Horiguchi for capturing the inaugural Rizin bantamweight title so definitively.
Horiguchi is now 26-2 and he’s won 11 straight fights. Can we get that Demetrious Johnson rematch now?
Shinobu Kandori wants a piece of Gabi Garcia
Correction: Shinobu Kandori doesn’t just want a piece of Gabi Garcia, she wants the whole thing!
Following Garcia decimating Barbara Nepomuceno, yet another in a line of overmatched opponents, she was confronted by 54-year-old wrestling legend Shinobu Kandori. The two were originally supposed to fight last December, but Garcia ended up missing weight for their bout by *checks notes* *checks notes again* about 26 pounds. Hrm.
That fight was canceled and Garcia had to offer a tearful public apology on fight night instead, but it looks like Kandori has been waiting all year to settle the score. Thank goodness security was there to hold her back or who knows what may have happened!
(what was that I was saying about Rizin not fixing fights?)
Yuki Motoya’s teepee submission former UFC fighter Justin Scoggins has to be mentioned because I know that if Jed were here he’d want to write 500 words about it. I’ll be succinct and let you all know that this finish shot to No. 2 on his personal Submission of the Year list (Horiguchi’s guillotine choke was No. 3) just hours before 2018 came to a close.
Rizin weigh-ins vs. UFC weigh-ins
Technically, this happened the day before Rizin 14, but if you think I was going to leave out a bunch of mascots getting down at the weigh-ins, you are sorely mistaken.
And now on to some quick hits:
You can watch the entirety of this middleweight title fight above and the rest of Fight Nights Global 91 on the promotion’s YouTube channel as usual.
Roman Kopylov put himself on the map last April with a fourth-round TKO of Abusupyan Alikhanov and there was no letdown in his first defense on Dec. 27 in Moscow as he cracked Yasubey Enomoto with a sickening body shot in the championship rounds.
That’s eight wins in eight pro bouts for Kopylov, with his last seven opponents failing to make it to the scorecards. He’s UFC, Bellator, or PFL bound in 2019. Book it.
Brave Combat Federation 21 took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Dec. 28, and the main and co-main delivered the goods.
Former UFC featherweight Jeremy Kennedy brings us our first “He Fell Funny” candidate of the year with this delightful counter-punch that sent Marat Magomedov looking for something, anything to hold on to as his body shut down on him.
He would have been eligible for a walkoff too if the referee didn’t make a mess of things. That’s two knockouts in two Brave outings for Kennedy and afterwards he called out current 145-pound champion Bubba Jenkins, so look out for that one in the future.
Takeshi Kinoshita vs. Chang Min Yoon
Lastly, I tried to dig up info on this Dec. 29 event from Japan called Fighting Agent War Season 3: Final Round, but my efforts were fruitless.
All I know is that Takeshi Kinoshita did this to Chang Min Yoon:
And Shinya Aoki did this after the show:
No further questions, your honor.
What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment of the past few weeks?
Nanaka Kawamura’s chainsaw entrance
Shinobu Kandori wants Gabi Garcia’s blood
Roman Kopylov crushes Yasubey Enomoto
Jeremy Kennedy puts Marat Magomedov on skates
Takeshi Kinoshita brutalizes Chan Ming Yoon
Shinya Aoki sings his heart out
Other (leave comment below)
142 votes total
If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.