Just weeks after the conclusion of the -61kg RISE World Series, two competitors from the tournament are scheduled to meet in a kickboxing match-up we weren’t able to see – despite many wanting to see it. The winner of the entire -61kg tournament, Taiju Shiratori (17-5), will face K-1 veteran TAIGA (20-9) at RIZIN 19.
Along with winning the ultra-stacked RISE World Series, Taiju Shiratori is also the current RISE lightweight champion. In the first round of the RISE tournament, Shiratori defeated the heavy-handed Hector Santiago. After a highly-competitive opening three rounds, the bout was ruled a draw. When the two went to a sudden-death fourth round, Taiju Shiratori was able to dominate Santiago to be declared the winner.
In the second round of the tournament, Shiratori took it to muay thai elite Seksan Orkwanmuang for a unanimous decision win. Two weeks ago in the finals of the tournament, Shiratori knocked out another muay thai ace in Genji Umeno to win it all. Taiju Shiratori is no stranger to RIZIN, though. He is a perfect 2-0 under the RIZIN banner. This includes a flying-knee finish in December of last year, and, most recently, a masterclass over Hiroto Yamaguchi at RIZIN 16.
A bit of a modern-day legend of K-1 Japan, most are shocked when they realize Taiga Kawabe is just 23-years-old. Two years older than the young phenom Tenshin Nasukawa, and the same age as Taiju Shiratori. If TAIGA had won in the opening round of the RISE World Series, he would have met Shiratori in the next round. Unfortunately, the former K-1 champion lost to Seksan by way of a narrow split decision.
The fan-favorite slugger is 1-1-1 in RIZIN. Debuting vs. former Road to RIZIN Kick tournament winner Kento Haraguchi, the two wound up fighting to a draw. In his second bout with the promotion, TAIGA faced another RISE World Series competitor in Thalisson Gomes Ferreira and lost in the second round via shocking knockout. After a rough couple of years, the former top-ranked fighter was able to secure a win over the very unorthodox Hikaru Machida at RIZIN 17.
RIZIN 19 is slated to go down on October 12, live from the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan. The card will feature the return of light heavyweight champ Jiri Prochazka, ROAD FC champ Seo Hee Ham, and Japanese stars Rena Kubota and Miyuu Yamamoto. The main focus of the night, though? The opening round of RIZIN’s eight-man lightweight tournament that features Tatsuya Kawajiri, Johnny Case, Damien Brown, and the debut of Bellator mainstay Patricky “Pitbull” Freire.