Top RIZIN Featherweight Kleber Koike takes on UFC veteran and former Shooto Champion Ulka Sasaki in the main event. Kenji Kato takes on former Shooto Bantamweight Title Challenger and National Greco Wrestling Champion Kazuma Kuramoto. Recent RIZIN debutant Suguru Nii will face PFC Tournament Champion Sora Yamamoto.
TOKYO – January 21st, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, held a press conference and announced updates about RIZIN TRIGGER 2nd - the promotion’s 1st event of the year.
RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated “We will be kicking off the new year with the TRIGGER event on February 23 at the Ecopa Arena in Shizuoka. We are looking to run the event with full capacity which is about 10,000. Our first caged event was not held in our own cage due to construction purposes, but now our original cage is ready and we will reveal it for this event.”
The former PRIDE boss also announced the winners of each award from the Bantamweight GP held last year, where Hiromasa Ougikubo ended up becoming Champion. The awards were determined by a fan poll as followed:
- Fastest finish: Naoki Inoue (win over Shintaro Ishiwatari 1:58 in the first round in RIZIN 28)
- Best submission: Not applicable
- Best knockout: Kai Asakura (win over Shooto Watanabe G&P knockout in RIZIN 28)
- Best bout: Hiromasa Ougikubo vs Naoki Inoue (Semi-Final bout in RIZIN 33)
Each fighter will receive a 1,000,000 JPY bonus on top of their set fight purse and prize money.
Kleber Koike (28-5 3-0 RIZIN FF) vs Ulka Sasaki (23-9-2, 2-3 RIZIN FF)
After rattling off three straight submission victories inside the RIZIN ring, Kleber Koike faces another top contender in RIZIN’s ever growing featherweight division. The former KSW Featherweight Champion faces potentially the best grappler out of his 34 fights as a professional, 24 of Koike’s 28 wins have come by submission, meanwhile 12 of Sasaki’s 23 wins have come by submission. They each have their go-to techniques; Koike with 12 triangle chokes, Sasaki with 11 rear-naked chokes. Their career trajectories have been going in completely different directions. Koike is 10-1 in the last 6 years, and Sasaki is 5-6 in the same timeframe (with Sasaki failing to put together 2-straight wins since 2014). Despite this crossroad, Sasaki looks to put on his first healthy performance at 66 kilograms, and can steal all the momentum from the current top contender in the division should he score the upset.
Kenji Kato (13-7, 2-1 RIZIN FF) vs Kazuma Kuramoto (8-2, 1-1 RIZIN FF)
Kato is 5-2 in the last 2 and years, scoring 4 KOs - including both of his wins in RIZIN. His sole loss in the promotion came in his debut just under 2 years ago when he lost via first round submission against Grand Prix participant and former Pancrase Bantamweight title challenger Kintaro. Kuramoto is the former Shooto Bantamweight title challenger and also fought in the 2021 Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix, losing to Alan Hiro Yamaniha in the opening round at RIZIN.29. He started his career 7-0 before his first loss in the aforementioned title fight against Shooto Bantamweight Champion, Ryo Okada. Kuramoto won his RIZIN debut at RIZIN.26 on New Years’ Eve 2020, scoring a 1st round soccer kick stoppage over veteran Taiyo Nakahara.
Suguru Nii (12-11, 0-1 RIZIN FF) vs Sora Yamamoto (12-6-2, 0-1 RIZIN FF)
Nii is the former GLADIATOR Lightweight Champion, and has competed across DEEP and Pancrase for the majority of his career. He has 10 finishes with 6 in the first round, and has faced fellow RIZIN competitors Yojiro Uchimura and Kyle Aguon. He lost his RIZIN debut at RIZIN.31 just 3 months ago, and is 4-3 in his last 7 bouts. Yamamoto is the 2017 PFC Featherweight Tournament Champion, and has gone 9-3-1 since winning his first title. He snapped his 5-fight win streak in his promotional debut at RIZIN TRIGGER 1st last November when he lost to Chihiro Suzuki. But, Yamamoto was able to show a diverse skill set in each of those wins, with 2 submissions (both by armbar) and 2 knockouts; with 3 of those stoppages coming in the 1st round.
“I respect my opponent as a fighter and all of his accomplishments. But he was an okay Bantamweight but just lost in his Featherweight debut. I don’t feel any threat from him in my division. I will beat him with ease.”
“Kleber is a great fighter and his record and stats show it all. I believe he is the best Featherweight in RIZIN at the moment and am excited for the opportunity to fight him in the region where I grew up in.”
“I’m excited to be called back again. I don’t change my fight style for my opponent. I go in there and do my thing. I lost my last fight in my hometown and I still remember the disappointment. I will win this fight and take my game to the next level.”
“I lost during the Bantamweight GP last year which was extremely disappointing and frustrating. I will start this year by winning this fight and show that I have what it takes. I will win the fight with a great impact that you will not forget so stay tuned.”
“I got beat by an old pro wrestling dude in my last fight and let down all my bouncer buddies and fans. But I have been training hard and have been ready for any opportunity. I promise a win and a fun fight.”
“I am grateful to be given another opportunity to fight in RIZIN again. I lost my last fight but it was a great learning experience. I feel that I have improved from my last fight and I would like to be more aggressive in this fight. I will aim for the 1st round finish.”
RIZIN TRIGGER 2nd - Ecopa Arena, February 23rd
Kleber Koike vs Ulka Sasaki [66kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
Kenji Kato vs Kazuma Kuramoto [61kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
Suguru Nii vs Sora Yamamoto [66kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
RIZIN TRIGGER 2nd will be broadcasted LIVE on SkyperfectTV, streamed on RIZIN LIVE PPV and Exciting RIZIN with Japanese commentary. International PPV with English commentary will be available on LIVENow.
Doors are expected to open at 12:30AM with the Opening Ceremony at 2:00PM on February 23rd (Wed) at the Ecopa Arena.