Fan favorite Kyohei Hagiwara makes his 8th RIZIN appearance against former DEEP Featherweight Champion Satoshi ‘Dominator’ Yamasu. Grand Prix Quarterfinalist Yamaniha welcomes GRACHAN Champion Motonobu Tezuka to the RIZIN ring. Pancrase Flyweight King Daichi Kitakata takes on Yutaro Muramoto. ‘Strasser’ Kiichi puts his unbeaten RIZIN record on the line against DEEP Interim Welterweight Champion Daichi Abe.
TOKYO – February 16th, RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara, held a press conference and announced updates about RIZIN.34 - the promotion’s third event of the year.
CEO Sakakibara announced 8 cards for the promotion’s 3rd event, and its first number series of the year with 4 kickboxing bouts and 4 MMA bouts including RIZIN fan favorites, current Champions, and former UFC veterans. RIZIN.34 will be held at the Maruzen Intec Arena in Osaka, which will be the promotion’s 2nd event at the new venue.
Satoshi Yamasu (12-6, 1-1 RIZIN FF) vs Kyohei Hagiwara (6-4, 5-2 RIZIN FF) 66kg MMA
Yamasu is just 3 fights removed from his championship status, dropping a majority decision at DEEP 97 Impact 18 months ago, coming up short in his RIZIN debut against Mikuru Asakura at RIZIN.26 on New Year’s Eve and scraping a split decision win over kickboxing champion Beynoah at RIZIN’s Tokyo Dome event last June. Yamasu holds a brace of wins against fellow RIZIN featherweight and former DEEP champion, Takahiro Ashida, and will be the more experienced fighter in this featherweight matchup. Despite the advantage in experience, it will be interesting to see how the ‘Dominator' will respond after the 3rd longest layoff in his career (255 days). The second principal of the main event - Hagiwara - has scored one of the promotion’s latest stoppage wins and fastest knockout wins, with one coming 22 seconds into the first round, and one with 20 seconds left in the final round. Ever the fan-favorite, 4 of his 5 wins have been by KO/TKO, and each event has seen him gain more and more popularity with the crowd, marked by now main eventing each of the RIZIN series events (numbered, Landmark and TRIGGER). His high-profile bout against K-1 starlet turned mixed martial artist Ren Hiramoto at RIZIN.26 propelled him into the limelight, and his next bout was a huge jump in competition against former title challenger Mikuru Asakura at the premiere RIZIN LANDMARK event as the main event. Despite dropping a unanimous decision, he scored an emphatic soccer kick finish in his last outing against Shoji at RIZIN TRIGGER 1st. With the two featherweights combining for 14 stoppages (12 in the first round) across 18 victories, the fans can expect a violent end to this tilt inside the distance.
Alan Hiro Yamaniha (18-9-4, 1-1 RIZIN FF) vs Motonobu Tezuka (34-13-6, 0-0 RIZIN FF) 61kg MMA
The Bonsai Gym product and Pancrase veteran had his 4-fight win streak snapped in his last bout against Kai Asakura, in a spirited performance where - despite a rally towards the end of the bout, and keeping the contest largely competitive - lost a unanimous decision, and was eliminated in the quarterfinals. 31 fights into his career, he has faced 6 of the RIZIN Japan Bantamweight Grand Prix participants with mixed results; scoring wins over Kazuma Kuramoto, Takeshi Kasugai and Kenta Takizawa, while losing to Shintaro Ishiwatari, Kintaro and most recently Kai Asakura. Tezuka is the recently crowned two-time GRACHAN Bantamweight Champion, scoring a 52-second armbar victory over Kuya Ito at GRACHAN 52 just 2 months ago to reclaim the belt 7 years after he first won it. He previously challenged for the title in September 2018, losing a split decision against Tomohiko Hori at GRACHAN 36. He is the former HEAT Bantamweight Champion, besting Kazuma Sone via 2nd round armbar in 2014 at HEAT 33, before losing his title to Takeshi ‘Kanten’ Kasugai at HEAT 37 in March 2016. He has also challenged for the GLADIATOR Featherweight title. Interestingly, this bout is actually a rematch 7 and years in the making, with the pair having previously met at HEAT 33 in September 2014, where Tezuka scored a arm-triangle choke in just 69 seconds. The 2-fight UFC veteran Tezuka is enjoying the best form of his 53 fight career, currently 10-1-1 in his last 12 bouts and winning his last 6 - the joint-longest win streak of his career. Both fighters have the ability to finish on top of the grit and stamina needed to go the distance.
Kiichi Kunimoto (20–8–2 1NC, 3-0 RIZIN FF) vs Daichi Abe (9–5, 0-1 RIZIN FF) 77kg MMA
40-year-old former UFC veteran “Strasser” Kiichi Kunimoto makes his first RIZIN appearance in over 3 years. He posted a 2-0 record in RIZIN with wins over Satoru Kitaoka and Ryuichiro Sumimura before competing in Bellator, where he failed to make an impact against top ranked welterweights, Ed Ruth and Jason Jackson. The former HEAT Welterweight Champion and Pancrase title challenger is now 3-2 in his last 5 bouts. Abe is the former Pancrase Welterweight Champion and reigning DEEP Interim Welterweight Champion. The 3-fight UFC veteran was riding a 3-fight win streak, having captured his current title against RIZIN veteran Gota Yamashita at DEEP 100 this past February, but losing his RIZIN debut against Akira at RIZIN.31. They combine for 12 first round stoppages, and with Kunimoto looking to maintain a perfect RIZIN record as Abe looks for his first win under Japan’s premier banner, there will be an intriguing dynamic at play for two of the country’s top welterweights.
Daichi Kitakata (19-10-1, 0-1 RIZIN FF) vs Yutaro Muramoto (8-5-2. 1-1 RIZIN FF) 57kg MMA
Kitakata is a former Pancrase Strawweight Champion, having dethroned long-time champ Mitsuhisa Sunabe, and is on the hunt for his first victory in the RIZIN ring, having dropped a unanimous decision to surging ZST Flyweight Champion, Tatsuki Saomoto in November 2020 at RIZIN.25. Muramoto has only lost 1 of his last 6 (vs. Takaki Soya @ RIZIN 18) and won his last bout by a 1st round knockout over Seigo Yamamoto at RIZIN.27 11 months ago.
Satoshi ‘Dominator’ Yamasu
“Hagiwara has been calling me out for a while. Now he’s one of the top guys in RIZIN and am grateful he still took the fight. But he’s appeal against me has been all over the place and has been annoying so I will make March 20th a day he will never forget.”
“I’ve been asking for Dominator for over a year now. I never felt like losing to him back then, and now I will beat his ass in my hometown and make him a full time company worker. I will dominate the dominator. Sakakibara, I want the main event.”
“I’m glad to be back in RIZIN again. I have been training harder ever since I got knocked out of the tournament and I am getting better every day. I will aim to become a RIZIN champion like Satoshi.”
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to fight in RIZIN. I’ve been Alan in seconds before, but I would like to believe that he’s a completely different and stronger opponent this time. I’m confident I can beat him wherever the fight goes, and since he’s the best 8 fighter in last year's GP, I would like to prove where I stand in Japan’s Bantamweight division. I didn’t get the opportunity to fight in the GP so my goal is to beat everybody involved and fight the champion. I will show that I’m in a different dimension in this upcoming fight.
“I’m grateful to be back in RIZIN. I will continue to show the strength and appeal of the welterweight division! Abe went down a weight class in his last fight and lacked energy. Abe has fought in the UFC like me so I know how tough he is. We will show you a world class fight. And I will show you the strength of a man in his 40’s! I will show you everything I worked for in this fight and win with a clear finish!”
“My opponent is very tough and a well rounded fighter. I’ve been working specifically on my physical strength since my loss in my last fight. I will show the new me in this fight. Strasser, let’s put in a great fight! I will win this war.”
“I was forced to withdraw from my last fight in RIZIN due to a fever. I’ve been through many challenges, and I have earned myself another shot in RIZIN after defending the Pancrase title. I am looking forward to showing how much tougher I have gotten through all of these life challenges. Look forward to my fight”
“I’m very excited to be fighting the current Pancrase Champion. I’ve been anticipating this fight for quite some time so I know what to do. We’re both aggressive fighters so I’m sure this fight will end by a KO. Kitakata, let’s put on a fast paced fight that only us Flyweights can do.”
RIZIN.34 - Maruzen Intech Arena, March 20th
Kyohei Hagiwara vs Satoshi Yamasu [66kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
Alan Hiro Yamaniha vs Motonobu Tezuka [61kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
Kiichi Kunimoto vs Daichi Abe [77kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
Daichi Kitakata vs Yutaro Muramoto [57kg - RIZIN MMA rules]
TAIGA vs Ryo Takahashi [61kg - RIZIN Kickboxing rules]
YUYA vs Yousuke Yamato [70kg - RIZIN Kickboxing rules]
Yuuki Kashihara vs MOTOKI [61kg - RIZIN Kickboxing rules]
Masaya Jaki vs KOUTA [70kg - RIZIN Kickboxing rules]
RIZIN.34 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 12:30PM with the Opening Ceremony at 2:00PM on March 20th (Sun) at the Maruzen Intec Arena.