On Monday, live from Japan, RIZIN Fighting Federation held a press conference that featured numerous announcements for upcoming fights.
Kai Asakura, Kanna Asakura, and Takeya Mizugaki were just a few of the athletes in attendance on the night. All of these fighters and many more provided media in Japan with scrums that featured an immense amount of fighter quotes. All of these happening immediately after their bouts were confirmed.
Even fighters who were not in attendance, like Manel Kape and Alesha Zappitella, gave statements to RIZIN staff that we will include here. Opening the press conference was RIZIN boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, and he had a lot to say.
“Kyoji Horiguchi may just be the best bantamweight in the world at the moment, and out of all the options we had, I do believe that Kai Asakura is the best option to fight him right now. I think he can fight Horiguchi with the most motivation and determination. He’s young, hungry, and has been one of our most fast-rising bantamweights. Most of all, he will be taking on one of the greatest fighters alive, in his hometown in front of hundreds of supporters. There will always be some negative opinions, but why not book this fight? Who doesn’t want to see this young prospect take on one of the best fighters? It’s the perfect timing, I think.”
Before he heads home to Nagoya on August 18 to take on one of the pound-for-pound greats, Kai Asakura followed up Sakakibara and gave his thoughts on the Horiguchi match-up.
“After I challenged Kyoji Horiguchi on social media, I received so many messages about me not having a chance. People saying this was too soon, all that kind of stuff. But it’s in my hometown, and I know I have a chance. I have studied him. I know I will have my chances during this fight. He’s an outstanding fighter and has very few holes in his game, but I have studied and I have found some patterns and tells that I would like to utilize to my advantage in this fight. I will bring the fight to him that no one else has been able to.”
Also at RIZIN 18, the cross-promotion with Invicta FC continues. RIZIN 2017 Super Atomweight Grand-Prix winner Kanna Asakura will be taking on a top contender of Invicta FC; Alesha Zappitella. Both fighters prioritize their wrestling, and they had this to say to media in Japan.
“I am on a two-fight losing streak, but I have learned from it and I plan to show a new and improved Kanna Asakura to the fans in August. My opponent is a great fighter, and honestly, she fights the fight that I’m not fond of in an opponent. This will be tough.”
“I am incredibly honored to have this opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to fight in RIZIN. I am excited to put on a show for a crowd that respects martial arts so highly.”
RIZIN mainstay Manel Kape will return in Nagoya after a spectacular outing at RIZIN 15. He welcomes a Japanese journeyman to RIZIN in the form of former WEC title-challenger Takeya Mizugaki. The two men have very different focuses at the moment. Kape is genuinely looking to retire his foe, as Mizugaki is aiming for one of the sport’s best.
“Looking at my next opponent, I see someone very experienced and at the same time very finished. I know he does not want to do this anymore. The process of this sport is cruel physically and psychologically. Looking at his last few fights, I saw a fighter in a state of brutal decay. I want to know if this fight is healthy for him to take. Clearly not. You look at me, and you see a young fighter with so much more to offer. I am currently working with extreme dedication and ridiculous attention-to-detail. I will not make mistakes. I want to be phenomenal, and I know a win in this fight will expand my name big-time in the Japanese region. That is my goal at the moment, to expand my name. And for that to happen, August 18, I will retire Takeya Mizugaki – with a lot of respect.”
“I am grateful to Kyoji Horiguchi and RIZIN. He has given me a goal to reach for at this stage in my career. A goal to help me keep going in this sport that I love. I plan to use this stint to reach Horiguchi, and to beat him.”
Also set to fight on August 18, 5’5 knockout-artist Takaki Soya looks to add yet another vicious finish to his highlight-reel when he faces DEEP veteran Yutaro Muramoto in an unofficial Shooto vs. DEEP contest of sorts. No beef in this one, though. Just two strikers looking to make an impression on the Nagoya crowd.
“I plan to finish this fight. Believe it or not, I’m going to try and finish this fight with an even crazier highlight-reel finish than I did last time.”
“I am glad to be fighting on such a big stage for the first time – in my hometown no less! My opponent is a tough fighter. Undeniable tough. I would just like to show everybody a fast-paced fight. A fight that only we can show.”
Current Pancrase fighter and veteran DEEP knockout-artist, Hiroto Uesako will look to bring his high-energy fighting style to Nagoya for RIZIN 18. He faces an unheralded technician in Frenchman Yves Landu. Once again, no beefs involved in this pre-fight lead up. Just two guys looking to put on a show!
“I would like to add a new flavor to RIZIN’s lightweight division. Look out for my soccerball kicks. I can throw those to the head all day if given the opportunity. Win or lose, I just want to put on a fight that’s easy for people to watch and understand. No hard stuff. Easy and simple. Let’s just fight. Hopefully I get the win.”
“I feel really honored to be selected for a fight in RIZIN. This is surely the best show in the world, with some of the best fighters in the world. My opponent is one of the toughest Japanese fighters around. He will represent a very tough test for me and the winner of this fight will surely be qualified to enter the RIZIN Lightweight Grand-Prix. What a dream it would be to eventually face Patricky Pitbull – hopefully in the final match. Unifying world title belts is something great in a fighter’s career. What Horiguchi has done has seriously inspired me.”
In kickboxing action, an Australian legend in the form of John Wayne Parr will also compete at RIZIN 18 in Nagoya. It is a landmark fight for Parr, as it will be the 100th of his tenured career. He faces Brazil’s Danilo Zanolini, someone who considers Parr a hero of sorts.
John Wayne Parr:
“I have been very lucky to fight in Japan sixteen times in the past, starting way back in 1998 when I fought Kohi. The last time I fought in Japan was in 2008 when I defended my WKBA world title against Kozo. Japan is one of my favorite countries to fight in, most definitely. So to – hopefully – win my 100th fight in Japan would make the moment all the more special.”
“I am very happy to be back in RIZIN after all this time away, especially against a fighter who I look up to so much. I am very excited to be facing such a legend. I promise you that I will how everybody a hard-fought fight. IT will be exciting, so please come watch our fight live.”
The high-level kickboxing action continues with two fun strikers in Ryuji Horio and Uchu Sakurai. There is a lot of respect between the two, but Horio is ready to enter enemy territory and upset the Nagoya crowd on August 18.
“I got my last RIZIN fight offer in an unexpected way. I learned that as long as I continue to do what I do, these chances will always come. I want to show that hard work and always being ready can earn you chances always. I will definitely look for the finish, as that is something I couldn’t get in my last fight.”
“I’m very excited to be fighting in my hometown and to be fighting on such a big stage in front of hundreds of my supporters. Horio is a great threat who has held titles before, but I want to put on a show that the fans are going to love.”
Finally, a fast-rising fan-favorite kickboxer will return at RIZIN 18. Shota Takiya, often referred to as “Reak Goku,” returns to the ring to face Kazuki Osaki. It is a young veteran in Takiya facing a young newcomer of sorts in the form of Osaki.
“I’m very happy to have received my second offer from RIZIN. I’m excited to be fighting in my hometown, and I plan to have many people supporting me there. I plan to use everybody’s energy to create a live Genki-Dama. My opponent is on a roll, and he has become one of the most talented fighters in our weightclass. It’s like I am Goku, and he is my rival, Vegeta. Make sure to watch my fight – and DBZ!”
“I am grateful to be called to compete on a stage such as RIZIN. My opponent has been fighting since before I made my professional debut, and I respect him a ton, but I will knock him out in this fight. I hope to put on a performance that will make people remember my name, so look out for me, and remember my name.”