As reported last week, RIZIN Fighting Federation has signed another potentially stellar Azerbaijan fighter in the form of Vugar Keramov (14-3), and he now has an opponent for his promotional debut. Later this month, he takes on former Pancrase title-challenger (13-8) of Guam.
After spending the vast majority of his career at featherweight, “Vugi” had begun competing at lightweight in recent months. Of course, with his teammate Tofiq Musayev being primed for a lightweight world title shot following his Grand-Prix Championship win last year, Keramov has decided to return to featherweight as he heads into RIZIN Fighting Federation.
The young, hungry finisher is riding a ten-fight win streak heading into RIZIN 21. This includes a recent win over Gustavo Wurlitzer under the Bellator MMA banner. Though the biggest opportunity of his career, the Bellator MMA win came at a Bellator 234 show in Tel Aviv, Israel, one of their least-advertised and most under-the-radar cards of last year. Regardless, this was a quick knockout win for “Vugi,” and the ninth finish of this current ten-fight streak of his.
Prior to this Bellator MMA outing, Keramov has spent his career fighting on regional shows in Turkey, China, and, of course, Azerbaijan. He has also had a solid multi-fight run in Ukrainian-based promotion World Warriors Fighting Championships.
As many know, Keramov’s teammate Tofiq Musayev has quickly become one of the sport’s top up-and-comers, and arguably the breakout star of 2019. He entered the RIZIN ranks in 2018 riding a nine-fight win streak. In the 365 day span between December 31, 2018 and December 31, 2019, Musayev won five-straight fights, eventually winning the RIZIN Lightweight Grand-Prix. This run consisted of wins against UFC and Bellator veterans in Damien Brown, Daron Cruickshank, Johnny Case, and Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.
Will Vugar Keramov have a similar rise? Not if Guam’s Kyle Aguon has anything to say about it.
Though not exactly a fan-favorite due to his fighting style, Aguon most recently competed for Pancrase’s featherweight title to close out 2019. Here he faced all-action King of Pancrase Isao Kobayashi, and lost a split decision. Speaking of split decisions, Kyle Aguon’s last seven wins have seen the Guam native get the victory by way of split decision. The argument could be made that he lost a few of these bouts, but in the eyes of many Aguon did just enough to get the win.
In 2017, Isao Kobayashi and Kyle Aguon faced off for the first time and it was here where Aguon picked up one of those five split decision wins in recent times. This is one of the main reasons the recent title rematch with Aguon was such a sell-able fight despite his not-so-crowd-pleasing style.
After closing out 2017 with a loss to Koyomi Matsushima, the 30-year-old Aguon went on to win two-straight fights by split decision against Hiroshige Tanaka and Taichi Nakajima to earn his Pancrase 309 title shot.
Five kickboxing bouts have been confirmed for RIZIN 21 later this month as well.
At a catchweight of 130-pounds, recent Hoost Cup competitor Masaji Tozuka will face GRACHAN veteran Masahiro Ozawa. At 132-pounds, Hoost Cup and HEAT vet Henry Cejas will face a RISE mid-carder in the form of SEIDO. At 126-pounds, Bigbang brawler Kenichi Takeuchi will test himself against Shoot Boxing’s Naoya in what will be his return to RIZIN following a RIZIN 12 loss to Ryuki. At 154-pounds, former Kaito Ono foe Yuya Shibata will return to RIZIN and look for his second promotional win and finish when he faces Kouki. And finally, in wicked megaton kickboxing action, Bigbang knockout-artist Kosuke Jitsukata will face DEEP MMA finisher Ryo Sakai.
RIZIN 21 takes place on February 22, live from the Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamatsu, Japan. These fights join the previously announced match-ups featuring Mikuru Asakura, Roque Martinez, and Marcos de Souza. As well as the three pivotal bantamweight match-ups announced just days ago.