Last night marked the triumphant return of Japanese kakutougi in the Saitama Super Arena after what felt like a long hibernation. Yes, there have been other MMA and kickboxing shows to happen in Japan over the past few years, even a few UFC events that did pretty well, but none could compare to the absolute insanity that was Rizin FF's first night. Rizin FF's first night was nothing short of a throwback to the Dynamite!! events of old, with freakshows, a legitimate tournament and some kickboxing to add some seasoning to the whole thing.
On the kickboxing front the former K-1 Koshien star and current K-1 and KRUSH star HIROYA bounced back after two tough losses in K-1 over the last year or so with a big win on one of the biggest stages that kickboxing has seen in Japan in a long time. That win was against MMA and kickboxing veteran "Wicky" Akiyo Nishiura and it happened via KO in the third round. Wicky was a mainstay in Japan for DREAM in their twilight years and this win was a rather high profile win for both HIROYA and K-1 Japan.
The other big bout was Hinata Watanabe fighting Kazuyuki Miyata, the former K-1 HERO*s and DREAM star in a mixed-rules bout. Think Aoki vs. Jienotsu from a few years ago, only they never made it out of the first kickboxing round because Hinata put a hurting on the 39 year old Miyata and won via TKO by knockdowns.
On the MMA side the tournament didn't provide many big surprises, unless you thought that Satoshi Ishii could possibly win, because he didn't. Hideo Tokoro beat up our beautiful friend in Kaizemon Saiga, who was best known from his work in K-1's 65kg division before swapping over to MMA, showing Saiga that he still has a lot of work to do on his ground game before he can hang with the likes of Tokoro. The main event was a brutal beatdown from Shinya Aoki against MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba, who should be sticking to wrestling in New Japan from now on since this was his retirement, but you know how that works out. Sakuraba has done a lot for fighting in Japan and he's always been willing to lay it all on the line for fans and the sport. In a way it was fitting for Sakuraba to lose to a Japanese submission specialist on a night that many are seeing as the rebirth of Japanese fighting, isn't it?
Rizin FF GP: Vadim Nemkov (R1 - TKO) Goran Reljic
Rizin FF GP: Jiri Prochazka (R1 - KO) Satoshi Ishii
Rizin FF GP: Teodoras Aukstuolis (R1 - KO) Bruno Cappelozza
Rizin FF GP: King Mo (R1 - KO) Brett McDermott
Rizin FF GP Reserve: Valentin Moldovsky (R1 - Sub) Yuta Uchida
Hiroyuki Takaya (R3 - Dec.) Dalki Hata
Hideo Tokoro (R1 - Sub) Kizaemon Saiga
Anatoly Tokov (R1 - KO) AJ Matthews
Felipe Efrain (R1 - KO) Yuki Motoya (ruled NC due to Efrain missing weight)
Kirill Sidelnikov (R2 - TKO) Carlos Toyota
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (R2 - TKO) James Thompson
K-1: HIROYA (R3 - KO) Akiyo Nishiura
Mixed Rules: Hinata (R1 - TKO) Kazuyuki Miyata