RIZIN 20 goes down on December 31, and two of the speculated headliners of the show have been confirmed thanks to some promotional material.
Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) will put his RIZIN bantamweight title on the line against Kai Asakura (14-1) in a rematch from their shocking RIZIN 18 meeting, and South Korea’s Seo Hee Ham (22-8) will challenge Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) for her atomweight crown.
The promotional material that confirmed the match-up is pictured below. It is an official poster for both the Bellator Japan show, and RIZIN 20, which now has four bouts confirmed for the event.
Prior to RIZIN 18, Kyoji Horiguchi was arguably the most dominant fighter in all of mixed martial arts. The dual-promotion champion was riding a 13-fight win streak that included wins in the UFC, a RIZIN Grand-Prix title, the inaugural RIZIN bantamweight championship, and the Bellator MMA bantamweight championship.
The streak featured wins over Shintaro Ishiwatari, Hiromasa Ogikubo, Takeya Mizugaki, Ian McCall, Hideo Tokoro, Yuki Motoya, Ali Bagautinov, Ben Nguyen, as well as two victories against Darrion Caldwell. This isn’t including his blockbuster kickboxing mega-fight against Tenshin Nasukawa.
At 25-years-old, Kai Asakura is one of Japan’s fastest rising stars alongside his brother, Mikuru. Well, following August 2019, he is no longer a “rising star,” as he is a full-on star – especially in his homeland of Japan. After an impressive 4-0 start to his RIZIN career, this includes him avenging his only career loss, Kai Asakura was given a fan-pleasing match-up against Kyoji Horiguchi.
Despite the non-title stipulation, Kai Asakura shocked the world and took out the reigning two-promotion champion in just 67-seconds with a bone-rattling knockout. Then, just two weeks ago, he put his championship rematch with Horiguchi on the line and faced another UFC vet in the form of Yuta “Ulka” Sasaki. Somehow, in even less time than it took against Horiguchi, the knockout-artist secured another (T)KO win thanks to a – literal – jawbreaking punch.
The rematch between Kyoji Horiguchi and Kai Asakura goes down in December. Will the champion ‘right the ship’ so to speak and get back to his dominant, winning ways, or will Kai Asakura hand one of Japan’s best ever his second career knockout loss?
Though she is no spring chicken at 37-years-old, Ayaka Hamasaki is in the best form of her career and looks to further establish herself as the best women’s atomweight of all time at RIZIN 20. Riding a five-five win streak, both of Hamasaki’s career losses came after she decided to move up a division and challenge lethal finishers in the form of Livia Renata Souza and Claudia Gadelha.
A former champion of Invicta FC and DEEP JEWELS, Hamasaki is the current RIZIN women’s atomweight champion and seems virtually unbeatable. Debuting with a solid victory over Josh Barnett pupil Alyssa Garcia, her second fight in RIZIN Fighting Federation came against DEEP JEWELS titlist Mina Kurobe. It was a dominant four minutes and forty-five seconds before Hamasaki secured the fight-ending armlock.
In her next outing, Ayaka Hamasaki challenged for inaugural gold and submitted RIZIN Grand-Prix champion Kanna Asakura in round two. This was followed up with dominant defenses against Jinh Yu Frey and Suwanan Boonsorn.
Much like Hamasaki, the fan-favourite “Hamderlei Silva” is also riding a five-fight win streak heading into RIZIN 20.
The ROAD FC title-holder made her long-awaited RIZIN debut earlier this year and took out current DEEP JEWELS champion Tomo Maesawa with a vicious onslaught of grounded-knees early. Immediately following the victory, Seo Hee Ham took to the mic and respectfully called out the world-class wrestler that is Miyuu Yamamoto. The match-up was made official right then and there, and the two would fight at RIZIN 19.
Here, Ham dominated a tough Yamamoto before finishing her foe with ground-and-pound in the second round. Heading into the bout, it was being billed as a title-eliminator, and, again, the net match-up for Ham was all-but-confirmed immediately following this win. That match-up being the title shot against Ayaka Hamasaki.
For those unaware, this will be the third fight between the two.
Ayaka Hamasaki currently holds two victories over Seo Hee Ham. This includes a corner stoppage in 2011, and a unanimous decision in 2010. Thankfully, both have improved tremendously in the past decade. This match-up is truly one of the highest-level fights in women’s MMA on the docket right now.
RIZIN 20 will also feature the previously announced RIZIN Lightweight Grand-Prix semi-final round. This will be comprised of Patricky “Pitbull Freire vs. Luiz Gustavo, and Tofiq Musaev vs. Johnny Case.
RIZIN 20 will take place on December 31, much like every other year-end show from the organization. Similarly to previous years, it all goes down live from the Saitama Super Arena.