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RIZIN 19: Lightweight Grand Prix 1st Round preview

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As if the weekend weren’t crowded enough, RIZIN is all set to lay the groundwork for their year-end combative festivities—with the opening round of their lightweight tournament. RIZIN 19 looks to include some fun women’s matches, kickboxing, and a bit of freakshow shenanigans.

Atop the card is Kai Asakura (13-1), fresh off his stunning upset victory over the then-seemingly-unstoppable Kyoji Horiguchi. He’s up against flypaper grappler extraordinaire, and former UFC flyweight, Ulka Sasaki (22-7, 2 draws). It rarely gets this much closer to the grappler vs striker archetype these days, with Asakura’s blitzing offense and flashy movement against Sasaki’s dogged wrestling and submission approach. This should be an excellent way to cap the night off.

In the co-main event, we’ve got some big-boy action, featuring the man who is perhaps the top light heavyweight outside the US: Jiri Procházka (24-3). Prochazka has been leaving a trail of victims with a violent striking approach come hell or high water. He’s up against the ‘Iron Hillbilly’ Fabio Maldonado (25-13), whose last win came in 2018 against a fighter making his pro debut. Make of that what you will.

Miyuu Yamamoto (5-3) has been busy as of late, having participated in the all-women’s edition of Quintent Fight Night earlier this year (on the same team as Sara McMann). She won a very tough contest by decision against Kanna Asakura in June, and meets Korean striking sensation Seo Hee Ham (21-8)—affectionately known as ‘Hamderlei.’ Ham’s four-fight winning streak is a good one, with a knockout of Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey and a savage grounded knee finish of Tomo Maesawa.


The drawings for the lightweight tournament have been completed, and the first round has former UFC fighter Johnny Case (26-6-1) against BJJ superstar Roberto Satoshi (9-0). Fellow former UFC fighter Damien Brown (19-12) has taken a very aggressive approach after his release, and is up against Azerbaijan’s heavy hitter Tofiq Musaev (15-3).

One of the more pleasant additions to the tournament is Bellator O.G. Patricky Pitbull (21-8), who meets well-traveled and well-loved Tatsuya “Crusher“ Kawajiri (37-13, 1 draw). Road to UFC participant and DEEP veteran Hiroto Uesako (16-7) meets Wanderlei Silva protégé Luiz Gustavo (9-1) to complete the field.

Rena Kubota (a.k.a. RENA, 8-3) should be guaranteed to bounce back from her Bellator loss earlier this year. She’s taking a massive step back in competition against Spain’s Alexandra Alvare Carlos (0-3… yes, really) in a laughably apparent attempt to get a visible top talent a fresh win. That’s a thing that’s happening.

Keita Nakamura (24-10, 2 draws) keeps chugging along, meeting Roberto Satoshi’s brother Marcos de Souza (8-1), who is just as lethal with his grappling. Rounding out the Big Chungus circuit will be Shoma Shibisai (4-2) vs roly-poly Korean Chang Hee Kim (1-4). It makes things… interesting, I guess?

Full card is as follows:

Kai Asakura vs Ulka Sasaki – BW
Jiri Procházka vs Fabio Maldonado – HW
Miyuu Yamamoto vs Seo Hee Ham – 108lbs
Keita Nakamura vs Marcos de Souza – WW
Damien Brown vs Tofiq Musaef – LW tournament bout
Roberto Satoshi vs Johnny Case – LW tournament bout
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Patricky Pitbull – LW tournament bout
Hiroto Uesako vs Luiz Gustavo – LW tournament bout
Seiki Ueyama vs Taisei Umei – Kickboxing bout, 123lbs
Rena Kubota vs Alexandra Alvarez Carlos – 112lbs
Shoma Shibisai vs Chang Hee Kim – HW
Taiga Kawabe vs Taiju Shiratori – Kickboxing bout, 137lbs
Takuma Konishi vs Hiroya Kawabe – Kickboxing bout, 170lbs

RIZIN 19 begins Friday night into Saturday morning, starting at 1:00am EST. The event will be available for purchase at FITE.tv for $19.99.

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