The announcements for RIZIN 17 and RIZIN 18 just keep on coming, as UFC and WEC veteran, Takeya Mizugaki (23-12-2) has signed with RIZIN Fighting Federation and will debut on August 18 in Nagoya.
Though not officially announced, RIZIN mainstay Manel Kape (13-4) claimed on the Real Quick with Mike Swick podcast on Thursday that he would be welcoming Takeya Mizugaki to RIZIN on the August 18 RIZIN 18 card.
Japan’s own Takeya Mizugaki (23-13-2) has long been one of the top bantamweight fighters in the world, a run that began back in 2008 when he signed with WEC as a Japanese title-holder. Mizugaki was given a world title shot in his debut against Miguel Torres in a fight that, to this day, people still argue that Mizugaki should have won.
Since then, the Japanese fighter has fought everyone, from Aljamain Sterling and Dominick Cruz to Cody Garbrandt and Urijah Faber. His UFC career ended in 2016 following an unfortunate 1-4 run, but it didn’t take long for Mizugaki to find a new home in Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB), which has since merged with World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA) to form ACA.
After dropping his first two fights in the promotion, Mizugaki rallied to defeat Pietro Manga (13-3) before heading home to Japan and defeating Shoji Maruyama (16-12-1) at a DEEP Impact show two months back. He would face a stiff test in Manel Kape, should that fight become official.
From obscurity to one of the best prospects in MMA. That is the exact path Manel Kape (13-4) has been on since joining RIZIN in 2017. After a few wins on the regional scene in Portugal, Manel Kape was given a spot in RIZIN’s 16-man bantamweight Grand-Prix.
He began the tournament with two-straight TKO wins over Erson Yamamoto (3-4) and former UFC fighter Ian McCall (13-7-1), respectively. In the quarter-finals, Kape took on one of the world’s best in RIZIN and Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi (28-2). Despite being submitted in the third, you could easily argue that Kape gave Horiguchi more of a challenge than anyone has in recent memory.
That loss was followed up with a still-controversial decision loss to top prospect Kai Asakura (12-1) at RIZIN 10. Then, Kape went to AKA Thailand and take his career more seriously, and it showed in his RIZIN 13 performance against Yusaku Nakamura (16-6-1). Since putting Nakamura to sleep that night, Kape has one win and one loss. The loss was against promotional newcomer and UFC veteran Ulka Sasaki (22-6-2) at RIZIN 14, and the win came against Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) in yet another masterful performance at RIZIN 15.
That’s not all that has been announced for RIZIN 18 on August 18, though.
Representing Bellator Kickboxing, Australian kickboxing legend John Wayne Parr (99-33-1, 45 KOs) will make his promotional debut at RIZIN 18, too. The ten-time world champion will seek his 100th career win when he takes on Danilo Zanolino of Brazil.
Also, returning for his second bout in RIZIN, “Real Goku” Takiya Shota will face KNOCK OUT mainstay Kazuki Osaki. Ryoji Horio of DEEP Kickboxing will also return after a hellacious battle against Kunitaka Fujiwara at RIZIN 16. He faces a RIZIN newcomer in Uchu Sakurai (2-0), a DEEP MMA fighter.
RIZIN 18 is slated to take place on August 18 at the Dolphins Arena in Nagoya, Japan. As of press time, the three bouts confirmed for this card are the three kickboxing contests. Mizugaki’s and Kape’s statuses are, as of yet, unofficial. Bellator and RIZIN champion Kyoji Horiguchi will headline the show, and his opponent will be announced on Monday. Monday is also the date on which Mizugaki vs. Kape is expected to become official.