RIZIN 21 went down this past Friday night amidst controversy and chaos and rose through all the nonsense to present an excellent card. Us English speaking fans did not even know until 4 days prior that we would even be able to see the show but thankfully FITE and RIZIN were able to come to agreement.
The last second nature of the deal showed during the card as poor Matt Striker, who took the announcing gig on just a few days notice, rode solo and called the show remotely. The audio quality was a nightmare for the first half of the show and never really sounded professional for a major league promotion. It sounded like he was speaking in to a tin can. None of this is on Matt as he did the best he could given the circumstances and I will give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt as all this happened at the very last minute. I’d like to think that in April 19th for RIZIN 22 the logistics will be worked out by then. Hopefully Striker gets a co-host who is a little more plugged in to the scene. For what it’s worth, Striker did a decent job given his limited knowledge of the product and genuinely treated the show with respect. In fact he reached out to the boys over at The We Are RIZIN podcast for some info, which is really cool by him. He didn’t go AAA Striker and try to sound funny and was a total pro.
Fortunately for RIZIN and FITE, the fighters were able to overcome the audio issues and put on some exciting fights that outshined the glitches.
The main event saw star featherweight Mikuru Asakura defeat TUF alum and solid Mexican fighter Daniel Salas via headkick. Salas tugged on my heartstrings a little as he came to the ring to music from the movie Desperado and wore a Lucha mask. Unfortunately for him that did not protect his noggin as Asakura kicked the fuck out of it.
USA’s Anthony Henry impressed with a finish over Japanese veteran Masanori Kanehara in the 2nd round. The Josh Barnett trained prospect could be a top contender for the bantamweight title after this.
Roque Martinez utilized Pride-esque soccer kicks to the head of poor ole Shrek Hideki Sekine. This was a total squash match from the get go.
Marcos de Souza looked like a monster defeating Falcon Neto by TKO. Kenji Kato is another guy RIZIN can build around as he picked up a submission win over Hokamura.
The fight of the night goes to Naoki Inoue and Trent Girdham. These two guys had a very fun back and forth battle that ended in slight controversy. To me, Girdham won rounds 1 and 3 but still lost the decision. Inoue clearly won round 2 and was close to finishing the fight. In Japan we often forget that they judge the fight as a whole and not by rounds so they gave it to Inoue for, I’m guessing, was having the most dominant round and coming close to a finish.
This card also featured a weird and uncomfortable Jiu-Jitsu exhibition as Robert Satoshi defeated five people, one of them a 13 yr old girl, by submission. Only in Japan man.
Full Card Results
Mikuru Asakura def. Daniel Salas via second-round KO (2:34)
Victor Henry def. Masanori Kanehara via second-round TKO (0:45)
Roque Martinez def. Hideki Sekine via first-round TKO (4:04)
Marcos Yoshio de Souza def. Falco Neto via first-round TKO (1:27)
Kenji Kato vs. Yuto Hokamura via first-round submission (reat-naked choke) (4:21)
Naoki Inoue def. Trent Girdham via unanimous decision
Vugar Karamov def. Kyle Aguon via unanimous decision
Jiu-Jitsu Exhibition Elimination Match
Roberto Satoshi def. Yuna Kimura by submission (rear-naked choke) in 0:46
Roberto Satoshi def. Koji Shigemizu by submission (armbar) in 0:51
Roberto Satoshi def. Edison Kagohara by submission (bow and arrow choke) in 1:23
Roberto Satoshi def. Hiroshi Shinagawa by submission (triangle choke) in 1:27
Roberto Satoshi def. Yuki Nakai via submission (triangle choke) in 3:35
Kousuke Jitsukata def. Ryo Sakai via first-round knockout (1:28)
Kenichi Takeuchi def. Naoya via unanimous decision
Henry Cejas def. SEIDO via unanimous decision
YUYA def. KOUKI via first-round knockout (2:30)
Masaji Tozuka vs. Masahiro Ozawa — majority draw