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Rizin FF 26: Kai Asakura vs. Kyoji Horiguchi rematch set to headline New Year’s Eve card

Rizin FF is all set to round off 2020 with a bang as the promotion gets set to host a packed card of fights, including arguably the organization’s biggest title fight of the year, on New Year’s Eve.

Rizin FF 26 takes place Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, with 10,000 spectators allowed in the venue for a fight card packed with familiar names from the Japanese promotion.

Headlining the card is a rematch for the Rizin FF bantamweight title, as former Rizin FF and Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi returns to the ring to take on the last man to defeat him, reigning bantamweight champion Kai Asakura.

The pair last met in a non-title back in August of 2019, when Asakura (16-2) stunned the champion early before finishing him via TKO in just 68 seconds at Rizin FF 18, and a planned rematch for the bantamweight title at Rizin FF 20 was nixed due to an injury to Horiguchi (28-3), who subsequently relinquished his Rizin FF and Bellator bantamweight titles.

Asakura went on to capture the vacant belt with a first-round finish of Hiromasa Ogikubo at Rizin FF 23 in August, then cemented his position at the top of the bantamweight division with another first-round finish, over Shoji Maruyama, in a non-title matchup at Rizin FF 24 in September.

Now, with Horiguchi back to full fitness and ready to return, the pair will do battle again with the title on the line.

The women’s super atomweight title is also on the line, as Ayaka Hamasaki (20-3) takes on Japanese fan favorite Miyuu Yamamoto (6-4) for the vacant title, while bantamweight veteran Hideo Tokoro (34-30-2) and Olympic silver medalist and debuting former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Shinobu Ota (0-0) are also set to face off.

Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa will also be in action against an opponent to be confirmed, and there’s also a “Rizin Special Standing” bout between former Pride FC and UFC icon Takanori Gomi and kickboxing ace Koji Tanaka. There’s also an MMA bout between 116-bout middleweight veteran Ikuhisa Minowa (65-43-8), who takes on sumo wrestler Tsuyoshi Sudario (1-0) in a heavyweight matchup.

There’s also an outing for Asakura’s brother Mikuru Asakura (13-2), who is making a quick turnaround in a bid to return to winning ways after losing out to Yutaka Naito in their featherweight title bout at Rizin FF 25 last month. He’ll take on Satoshi Yamasu (11-5).

The event will also see the return of English-speaking commentary for Rizin FF shows, with longtime commentary duo of Joe Ferraro and Frank Trigg set to provide commentary from a remote location.

Rizin FF 26 fight card includes:

  • Champion Kai Asakura vs. Kyoji Horiguchi – for bantamweight title
  • Tenshin Nasukawa vs. TBA – kickboxing bout
  • Shinobu Ota vs. Hideo Tokoro
  • Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Miyuu Yamamoto – for vacant women’s super atomweight title
  • Takanori Gomi vs. Koji Tanaka – special stand-up rules bout
  • Kanna Asakura vs. Ai Shimizu
  • Naoki Inoue vs. Yuki Motoya
  • Kyohei Hagiwara vs. Ren Hiramoto
  • Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Tsuyoshi Sudario
  • Ulka Sasaki vs. Kenta Takizawa
  • Mikuru Asakura vs. Satoshi Yamasu
  • Kyle Aguon vs. Kleber Koike Erbst
  • Kazuma Kuramoto vs. Taiyo Nakahara
  • Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit vs. Nadaka Yoshinari – kickboxing bout
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