Rizin Fighting Federation is back and ready for a rousing 2019 campaign, with the promotion intent on matching or even surpassing the record set in 2018 for the most events, starting with Rizin 15 in April.
Via press release, the organization announced their first event lineup of the year, starting in April and stretching to New Year’s Eve. Rizin founder Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated that the promotion will hold a minimum of six events, with the potential for two more depending on scheduling.
April 21: Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Japan
July 28: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Aug. 18: Aichi Gymnasium, Nagoya, Japan
October: Osaka or Fukuoka, TBD
Dec. 29: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Dec. 31: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
The first Rizin event of 2019 will be Rizin 15 on April 21 in Yokohama, Japan. Potentially headlining the event will be a battle for the inaugural Rizin Light Heavyweight title, in a rematch between 2015 Rizin Heavyweight Grand Prix winner "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal and finalist Jiri Prochazka. Additionally, the promotion has scheduled a clash between current bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi against former Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight Ben Nguyen.
Both Kai Asakura and his brother Mikuru Asakura will be appearing on the card, with the former facing former UFC standout Yuta Sasaki and the latter matching up with the undefeated Luiz Gustavo. Also announced to compete at the event will be the unbeaten Deep lightweight champion Koji Takeda, but his opponent has yet to be determined.
Prochazka, one of the winningest fighters in Rizin history tied with Horiguchi, seeks to avenge his only loss in the Rizin ring, which was against Lawal. Since that loss in 2015, Prochazka won his next seven bouts including six finishes, most recently forcing Brandon Halsey to tap to strikes at Rizin 14 in December.
Winner of the very first Rizin tournament, Lawal has not competed for the organization since suffering a knockout loss in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix to Mirko Filipovic. Since the defeat, Lawal has competed inside Bellator MMA three times, twice at heavyweight, and most recently lost by knockout to Liam McGeary at Bellator 213 in December.
Rizin 15 Announced LineupMuhammed Lawal (21-8) vs. Jiri Prochazka (23-3-1)
Kyoji Horiguchi (26-2) vs. Ben Nguyen (17-8)
Mikuru Asakura (9-1) vs. Luiz Gustavo (9-0)
Kai Asakura (12-1) vs. Yuta Sasaki (22-6-2)