RIZIN 15 went down on Sunday morning for those stateside and it acted as the first RIZIN event of 2019.
In the first MMA bout of the night, top strawweight prospect, Kanako Murata made her return to the RIZIN ring on short notice to take on Mexico’s Saray Orozco at flyweight.
Murata would end up dominating the fight majorly on the ground with her great wrestling. Knees and elbows found the target at will before the round ended. In round two, when Murata went for a takedown, she wound up picking Orozco up for a slam that Orozco looked to try and counter with a guillotine.
Murata adjusted beautifully as she brought her opponent to the ground to sink in yet another Von Flue choke to get the win. Her last win over Angela Magana at RIZIN 12 also ended via Von Flue choke. She is now 9-1.
Result: Murata def Orozco via second-round submission (Von Flue choke)
UFC veteran, Damien “Beatdown” Brown made his sophomore RIZIN appearance as he welcomed Koji Takeda to the ring.
The first round entirely took place on the feet with each trading a strong variety of strikes that saw Brown get the better of most exchanges with his body kicks and right hands. To the surprise of many, Takeda didn’t look for a single takedown… With the exception of one that happened after a tight exchange at the very end of the round.
Round two was where Takeda would end up getting some grappling control clocked in. However, he would be unable to really capitalize on it as once they were back on their feet, Brown went back to work. The round came to a close with Brown pushing the pace and landing a nice head kick.
Round three started off with Brown getting eye poked before Takeda pressured to close the distance. Continuing with his tactical striking approach, Brown would eventually land a massive right hook that hurt Takeda badly. Briefly attempting to capitalize, Brown would let Takeda off the hook. The fight would end as Brown asked Takeda to engage after picking their shots.
Result: Brown def Takeda via unanimous decision
We saw more flyweight action when the unbeaten duo of Kana Watanabe and Justyna Haba went at it.
Haba found plenty of success in the striking department against the Judoka for the first half of the opening round before being hit with a hip toss. The round would end with Watanabe on top doing work before looking for a late arm triangle as the round ended.
In round two, Watanabe got the action to the ground earlier but couldn’t do as much as she did late in the first. The takedown threat began to effect Haba’s striking approach but she still found good success by landing looping rights. Watanabe would close the distance and clinch after eating a few shots. A break from the referee would lead to Haba hunting for the knockout before the round concluded.
Haba continued to land well as round three started. Eventually, Watanabe would find a trip and begin to work her ground and pound with punches and elbows. Controlling for the practically the entirety of the round, Watanabe would remain undefeated as she advanced to 7-0-1.
Result: Watanabe def Haba via unanimous decision
One of the most anticipated bouts followed as Wanderlei Silva protege, Luiz “Killer” Gustavo took on Mikuru Asakura.
The action started out fast and furious as Gustavo landed a big head kick before swarming Asakura only to get taken down in a counter effort. The referee would stand them up after no action unfolded in the guard. An eye poke to Asakura would provide us with a brief scare before the action continued. A flying knee attempt from Gustavo would lead to him fighting off his back once again until the referee stood them up as they were going out of the ring. A takedown attempt from Gustavo would be countered and lead to Asakura getting on his back as the round ends.
Round two found the action on the map early as Asakura hit a takedown in a matter of seconds. The two would find their way to the feet shortly after as they began to swing. Asakura would land a big shot that dropped Gustavo. Asakura would follow it with another takedown.
A yellow card would be given to Gustavo for trying to kick out of the ring. When returning the feet, they would exchange again as the round came to a close.
Round three took place predominantly on the feet as Gustavo was pressuring while Asakura was being more counter heavy with his strikes. Flurries came in abundance though. As the round went on, Gustavo just kept on pushing and started to land heavy shots. Asakura ate them well and ended up taking Gustavo down around the final minute mark.
Gustavo would be warned again as they were stood back up and swung for the fences until the final bell rang.
Result: Asakura def Gustavo via unanimous decision
The atomweight superstar, Rena Kubota was back in action following the night’s first intermission when she took on Samantha Jean-Francois in a rebooking from RIZIN 14. Rena would pass out during her weight cut thus canceling the fight on New Year’s Eve and lead to a 112-pound catchweight bout between the two.
After a few feeling out strikes from Jean-Francois, she looked to clinch up looking for a trip on Rena to no avail. She remained persistent, however, and pusher her opponent into the corner. The two would trade knees before Rena hit a throw that was reversed and the two got back to their feet while still clinching. Rena pulled guard with a kimura locked in but couldn’t quite get it as she wrenched it until they got back to the feet still in the clinch.
Rena would land some good short strikes before going for a head and arm toss that resulted in Jean-Francois getting her back and doing some ground and pound work as the round came to a close.
Rena came out aggressive in round two that saw her land some shots before getting taken down only to sink in an armbar. She would end up losing it but get back to her feet where she’d land leg kicks to Jean-Francois off her back until deciding to head into the guard and work ground and pound punches. Rena would stand up, land two big left hands that seemed to hurt Jean-Francois which forced her to take Rena down. Rena would sweep her instantly and wind up in mount.
Reigning down punches briefly, Rena would change to go for an armbar that couldn’t fully be executed. On bottom again, she would attempt another prior to the round’s end.
Rena would land solid shots to start round three as Jean-Francois closed the distance to get into the clinch and eat some more shots. A trip from Rena got her in mount again. Jean-Francois would be able to work a crafty escape by throwing up her legs, Rena was still in a more dominant spot as she searched for punches.
Rena would stand up when an opening was presented. The fight ended looking similar to the final round’s start before a tired Jean-Francois went for a lazy takedown that was easily countered. Rena would hit some nasty knees from north-south and the bell rings.
Result: Rena def Jean-Francois via unanimous decision
Bantamweight champ, Kyoji Horiguchi welcomed Ben Nguyen to the RIZIN ring in the bout that preceded the evening’s co-main event.
Nguyen pressed forward instantly and landed a big shot as the two then clinched against the ropes jockeying for position. Nguyen attempted a trip before Horiguchi broke off landing a big left. Nguyen kept the pressure though and the two exchanged good shots. A nice one-two backed Nguyen up before Horiguchi continued with some beautiful counters that buried the newcomer. Horiguchi’s incredible win streak continues.
Result: Horiguchi def Nguyen via first-round TKO (punches)
The co-main event saw superstar kickboxing prodigy return to the RIZIN ring for the first time since New Year’s Eve when he took on Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition boxing match. Standing in his way was promotional newcomer, the Philippines’ Fritz Biagtan.
The fighters began patiently, trading leg kicks and pumping out jabs. At the mid-way point, a kick from Biagtan led to a stiff counter punch combo from Tenshin. A big body kick followed as did a jumping push kick from Tenshin that put Biagtan briefly on his butt. The round ended with Biagtan coming at Tenshin but didn’t do anything significant.
Round two started fast as they traded some knees in tight accompanied by punches. Starting to loosen up more, each fighter looked to set up their big shots with jabs and leg kicks. Tenshin’s counters were starting to do damage. Tenshin would unload about four or five shots on Biagtan in the corner before Biagtan fired back and the round came to a close directly after.
In the third and final round, Tenshin threw heavy kicks early and often which set up some big power punches which would drop Biagtan. Tenshin started to corner Biagtan and keep landing where he would close the show with a knee to the body and thunderous punch as Biagtan went down. Tenshin is now 30-0.
Result: Tenshin def Biagtan via round-three TKO (knee to body and punch)
After the beautiful finish, it was time to crown an inaugural light heavyweight champion with a rematch between Bellator’s “King Mo” Muhammad Lawal and Jiri Prochazka.
The action started slowly as Mo threw searching shots. Prochazka was seemingly looking to counter. Things picked up a bit at the halfway point but each fighter was still being careful and respecting the other’s power. A heavy leg kick would sweep Prochazka’s legs but he would get up and attack aggressively than he was prior. Round one ends after they both connect with right hands.
Round two begins and it’s a quicker version of round one’s start. Prochazka sprawls on a quick takedown attempt by Mo. Prochazka starts to look for some front kicks but nothing’s doing. Prochazka’s jab starts to magnet itself to Mo’s face before some right hooks follow and land. The momentum appears to shift with Mo being backed up now. A right straight from Mo turns into a cut for Prochazka which starts to bother him and he’s looked at by the doctors. The fight continues and Prochazka gets back to the hunt. A big front kick lands this time. Mo is looking for bombs from the backfoot but can’t find it… Round ends.
Early takedown is stuffed by Prochazka as he lands knees on the exit. Mo comes in close and Prochazka keeps landing short hooks. Another takedown attempt from Mo is thwarted by a sprawl. Clean combos from Prochazka are continuous at the point and Mo seems drained yet is starting to pursue more. Prochazka lands stiff jabs, follows them up with some hard shots and Mo folds.
Result: Prochazka def Lawal via third-round TKO (punches)
Check out the rest of the night’s results below:
Lightweight – 157lbs: Roberto Satoshi Souza def Satoru Kitaoka via second-round TKO (punches)
Light heavyweight: Karl Albrektsson def Christiano Frohlich via unanimous decision
Catchweight – 128lbs: Manel Kape def Seiichiro Ito via second-round TKO (body shot and punches)
Catchweight – 134lbs: KB – Thalison Ferreira def Taiga Kawabe via second-round TKO
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 4/21/2019