About a month ago, RISE and M-1 announced a co-promoted event featuring stars Masahiro Yamamoto, Koji Yoshimoto, Erika Kamimura, Sun Hyun Lee and others. The fight announcements trickled out one by one over the course of the past few weeks and I was waiting for the matchups to finally be set before putting together a post and now, less than a week away, the fight card is set and it looks very good.
Headlining the event is RISE 65kg champion Koji Yoshimoto taking on rising Dutch-Armenian star Raz Sarkisjan. Yoshimoto is currently riding a 4-fight win streak, most recently defending his title against Yasuomi Soda. Sarkisjan first made a name for himself with a decision win over Masaaki Noiri at the Hoost Cup back in May, a fight which saw both fighters on the canvas. Unfortunately, he followed that up with a loss at It's Showtime Brazil to Marcus Vinicius earlier this month. Should Sarkisjan bring the power he brought to Japan last time, he could definitely put Yoshimoto's lights out, though I think Yoshimoto could just as easily outpoint Sarkisjan over three rounds.
In the co-main event, It's Showtime 61kg champ Masahiro Yamamoto will be taking on Mansour Yaqubi. Yamamoto comes into this fight on a 5 fight win streak, but has not fought since winning the It's Showtime title from Javier Hernandez in July. Yaqubi trains out of the same gym as Raz Sarkisjan and will be looking to throw a wrench in the Lightweight picture. Yamamoto has to be the favorite here, but of course, there is a chance Yaqubi could shock everyone.
At 55kg, Shooto Flyweight champion Mikihito Yamagami returns to RISE to take on top ranked Dyki. Yamagami first debuted in RISE in 2009, where he picked up his only win in the 55kg RISING Rookies Cup. Since, he fought to a draw, was knocked out by prospect Seiya Rokukawa and, most recently, dropped a decision to former 55kg champion KENJI, but not without giving him a tough fight. In MMA, he has won 4 in a row, including a 41 second KO of Junji Ikoma to win the Shooto Flyweight title and a 2nd round submission of Junji Ito to defend it. Since KENJI's departure from the sport, Dyki has forcefully claimed his top spot in RISE, scoring three straight wins over Hiroaki Mizuhara, Ariaki Okada and most recently knocking out MA Kick Bantamweight champion Takashi Ohno. Had KENJI stayed in kickboxing, Dyki would have earned a rematch by now. Should he come out on top here, he should either be slotted for a vacant title match or placed in another 4-man tournament, which he would likely be favored to win considering RISE's talent pool at 55kg.
At 63.5kg, top Korean fighter Sun Hyun Lee takes on Buakaw Weerasakreck in the only RISE vs M-1 fight of the card. After losing a superfight to 65kg champion Koji Yoshimoto at RISE 85, Lee has won three straight fights in RISE, defeating 63kg champion Yuki and top contenders Yuto Watanabe and Shohei Asahara. Lee was supposed to face Hiroshi Mizumachi instead of Asahara for a title shot, but I assume he will still get that shot sometime next year and look to increase his stock greatly after Yuki's big win over Javier Hernandez. After starting 2012 with three straight wins, two by TKO, Buakaw moved up to 67kg to face WPMF Japan Welterweight champion T-98, but lost by 3rd round TKO. Since, he has fought once, drawing Shunsuke Oishi earlier this month.
At 61kg, WPMF and WBC Japan Lightweight champion Yosuke Mizuochi takes on Nong'an Sasiprapa. This fight is either for the WPMF World Lightweight title or the right to face Sagetdao Petpayathai, who won the title back in July. Mizuochi has won 7 of his last 8, including winning the WPMF Japan title in a 4-man tournament earlier this year and most recently defeating Keijiro Miyakoshi for the WBC Japan Lightweight title.
In a bout for the vacant WPMF Women's World Mini-Flyweight title, Erika Kamimura faces Thailand's Loma Lookboonmee. After a 23-1 start to her pro career, Kamimura has lost twice in the last year, dropping decisions to RENA in RISE and Lorena Klijn in the opening round of this year's Girls S-Cup. While she has lost some momentum, she is still an excellent kickboxer with the power to stop the fight at any time. She won this same title in September of 2010, but never defended it and was recently held by Little Tiger, who vacated the title as well. I couldn't find much information on Loma, though I believe she is 16, has won 98 of her 120 fights and is a Rangsit Stadium and Pattaya Stadium champion.
At 58kg, Rajadamnern Stadium Featherweight champion Sirimongkon P.K. MuayThai takes on Yusuke Shimizu. Shimizu was originally set to face Pornsaneh Sitmonchai, but he was pulled from the card. Shimizu has only fought 4 times over the past year, going 3-1 with the loss coming to Ryuya Kusakabe.
At 67kg, Kaew Fairtex faces Satoshi Taniguchi. Kaew is 2-0 in Japan this year under the M-1 banner, scoring knockouts of Kousuman and Yusuke Sugawara. Taniguchi is more or less an unknown, though he competed in the DEEP*KICK 70kg tournament, where he lost to Ren Takeno.
At 59.5kg, Chang Hyun Lee returns to competition against WPMF Japan #1 ranked Featherweight Daiki Nagashima. Like his teammate Sun Hyun, Chang Hyun Lee got his big break against a rising Japanese star in K-1, defeating Genji Umeno in October in one of the best fights of the year. Nagashima is 3-1 on the year, avenging a 2011 loss to Yuji Umehara, but failing to avenge his other 2011 loss with a grueling decision loss to Yosuke Morii.
Finally, former Shootboxing Women's Flyweight champion Ai Takahashi takes on Itsuka. Since defeating Rena last June, Takahashi is just 1-2 with a pair of losses to Mizuki Inoue, who has overtaken her at this weight. She needs a win here to stay relevant. Itsuka has lost 3 in a row since a win over Tomoko SP last year.
Not all of the fights on the card were previewed, so click "Read more" to check out the full fight card for this event.