Roberto de Souza walks to the ring prior to fighting Mizuto Hirota.

As reported earlier in the week, Hamamatsu resident Roberto de Souza will compete at RIZIN 21 later this month in a grappling match. His opposition has been announced, and it comes in the form of a five-person team fronted by Japanese trailblazer Yuki Nakai.

Holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since 2012, de Souza is one of MMA’s most high-level grapplers. Though we’ve talked about his accolades in grappling at length, so we won’t go into too much detail here. For more on Roberto de Souza the MMA fighter and grappler, click the linked article regarding this initial announcement.

For more information on de Souza the brilliant grappler, BJJ Heroes has you covered.

But what about Team Nakai?

    • Yuki Nakai (Team Captain, Black Belt)

Yuki Nakai is a true pioneer when it comes to mixed martial arts, as evident by his debut coming way back in 1993. Less than two years after making his debut, the now 49-year-old won Shooto’s welterweight championship. This is a relatively big deal, as the welterweight title in Shooto was one of the promotion’s best considering the depth of said division. His final night as a pro fighter came on April 20, 1995. Here he competed three times in a one-night Vale Tudo Japan tournament, easily submitting Gerard Gordeau and Craig Pittman before losing his final pro fight ever by submission against the legendary Rickson Gracie. Despite retiring after just 13 fights, Yuki Nakai continued to compete in grappling-related events long after leaving MMA. Facing the likes of Jean-Jacques Machado, Vitor Ribeiro, Leonardo Vieira, and Ricardo de la Riva. It is also worth mentioning that in 1997, Nakai opened up the Paraestra Shooto Gym in Japan, a gym that still, to this day, is producing world-class talent in the region, including Shinya Aoki. He is a two-time Pan American Champion across two different belt classes, and was born in the Hamamatsu region of Japan. So he will be right at home at RIZIN 21.

  • Edison Kagohara (Black Belt)

Kagohara is the head instructor at Over Limit Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Saitama, Japan. The club that has ten affiliated gyms across Japan, China, Korea, Russia, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. He is currently the chairman and director of the Asian Sports Jiu-Jitsu Federation (ASJJF) as well. A high-level third-degree black belt, Kagohara has won multiple championships in grappling competitions, those can be seen here.

“I thank Satoshi and RIZIN for giving me this opportunity. I will do my best not to waste this opportunity to spread the joy and enjoyment of Jiu-Jitsu to the world. I will do my best, thank you.”

  • Koji Shigemizu (Purple Belt)

Born with paralysis in his left arm, Shigemizu is a para jiu-jitsu competitor with multiple tournament wins to his name. This includes two Abu Dhabi Para Championships in 2017 and 2018.

“I was born with a paralyzed left arm and have a disability to move freely. Even such a person can do Jiu-Jitsu. Instead of using my left arm, I use his feet, I use his head. I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu for more than 10 years without giving up, I’ve had the chance to rise to the RIZIN ring and I hope to be able to show off that day.”

  • Yuna Kimura (Orange Belt)

As a high school female jiu-jitsu player, Kimura has long been doubted. This has not stopped her rise, however, as she competed in the kid’s division of an Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Championship Tournament back in April and won the whole thing.

 “Because the opponent is a black belt, I will do my best to borrow Mr. Satoshi’s chest.”

  • Hiroshi Shinagawa (White Belt)

Working under the stage name of Shoji Shinagawa, he is a famous comedian in Japan who participates in grappling as a hobby – hence the white belt. In addition to undeniable comedy talent, he is known for his work in films and television.

“I am so honored to have an exhibition match in front of a top class player in Roberto Satoshi and a large audience. I don’t care about my age to start jiu-jitsu. I want to show that a 47-year-old white belt like me can still work hard.”

RIZIN 21 is set to take place on February 22 at the Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan. The full card, as of now, is listed below. The match-up between de Souza and Team Nakai is an elimination match.

Mikuru Asakura vs. Daniel Salas
Victor Henry vs. Masanori Kanehara
Naoki Inoue vs. Trent Girdham
Roque Martinez vs. Hideki Sekine
Yuto Hokamura vs. Kenji Kato
Marcos de Souza vs. Falco Neto
Vugar Keramov vs. Kyle Aguon
Roberto de Souza vs. Team Nakai – BJJ
Kosuke Jitsukata vs. Ryo Sakai – KB
Kenichi Takeuchi vs. Naoya – KB
Henry Cejas vs. SEIDO – KB
Yuya Shibata vs. Kouki – KB
Masaji Tozuka vs. Masahiro Ozawa – KB

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