In a surprise addition to the RIZIN roster, the Japanese-based juggernaut has bolstered its light heavyweight division in a big way with the signing of the unbeaten Russian Ivan Shtyrkov (16-0-1).
Shtyrkov is set to debut in the promotion against ROAD FC’s Hoon Kim at RIZIN 17, which takes place on July 28. Also on the card, a fan-favorite Japanese star will return in the form of King Reina (11-2).
Often referred to as “Ural Hulk,” Ivan Shtyrkov has racked up quite the resume for himself on the Russian regional scene over the past few years. Beating an extensive list of notable heavyweight and light heavyweight veterans, Shtyrkov has proven himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Along the way, he has finished the likes of Ricco Rodriguez, Fabio Maldonado, Olympic gold medalist Satoshi Ishii, and current KSW heavyweight champion Phil De Fries, not to mention his decision wins over Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and former Bellator light heavyweight champion, Christian M’Pumbu.
Following his first-round win over Thiago Silva in December of last year, the hulking Russian finisher was unsurprisingly signed by the UFC. Slated to fight Devin Clark at UFC on ESPN+ 7, the bout was called off last-minute. Now, all these months later, Shtyrkov and the UFC have parted ways following a potential doping violation, but it took the Russian just one week to find a new home in RIZIN Fighting Federation.
As the South Korean prepares to fight an undefeated powerhouse in Shtyrkov on July 28, there is plenty to learn about Hoon Kim (10-12-2, 1 NC). Unimpressive record aside, Kim personifies the signature ‘kill or be killed’ mentality for which many Asian MMA fighters are known. With very few of his bouts seeing the final bell, Kim typically smashes his opponent – unless they smash him first. Sometimes he’s the hammer, other time he’s the nail, but Hoon Kim is always fantastically exciting.
Back in 2011 at a Legend FC show, Kim handed current UFC title-holder Robert Whittaker the first loss of his career with a slick, first-round triangle choke. More recently, in 2017, Kim knocked out UFC vet and former ROAD FC champion Riki Fukuda at ROAD FC 40.
Funnily enough, Kim’s background is in breakdancing, and he accepted his first fight whilst having absolutely no combat training. Through sheer will, power, and athleticism, Kim was victorious, and he never looked back on his newfound dream of becoming a professional fighter.
It’s not just the light heavyweights on tap, however. In a women’s catchweight bout, King Reina returns against Swiss-born Stephanie Egger (3-1).
After picking up two-straight wins in DEEP, Reina Miura (11-2) is hoping to get back to her winning ways inside the RIZIN ring, something she hasn’t done since October of 2017. Last August, King Reina was simply outclassed on the feet by Kaitlin Young.
Fighting out of her home country, Switzerland’s Stephanie Egger (3-1) won her last bout in dominant fashion at a Swiss regional show, though this was well over a year ago. In 2016, Egger had a one-off with Invicta FC, dropping a decision to Alexa Conners.
RIZIN 17 is set to take place in a few weeks time on July 28, live from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
The card will feature numerous lightweight Grand-Prix qualifying match-ups and some pivotal flyweight and bantamweight match-ups that may spell out the next eventual foe for RIZIN flyweight and bantamweight and Bellator bantamweight champion, Kyoji Horiguchi.
Speaking of Horiguchi, this RIZIN 17 fight card is one of the first ‘tentpole’ RIZIN events to not feature any of the organization’s big stars, namely, Horiguchi, Tenshin Nasukawa, Kanna Asakura, or RENA, among others.