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Lightweight tournament qualifiers announced for Rizin 17

TUF 22 Finale Photos
Japanese legend Tatsuya Kawajiri (right) will face undefeated Ali Abdulkhalikov in July.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Rizin Fighting Federation will kick off an eight-man lightweight tournament on Oct. 12, the promotion announced Wednesday, and a few qualifiers were added to Rizin 17 on July 28.

Promotion CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Ali Abdulkhalikov and Satoru Kitaoka vs. Johnny Case for Rizin 17 in Tokyo, and the winners will enter the grand prix in October. A previously announced lightweight clash between Roberto Satoshi and Mizuto Hirota will also serve as a qualifier for the tournament.

Kawajiri (36-13-2), a longtime veteran of the game, will attempt to get back to the winning column after back-to-back defeats to Gabriel Oliveira and Satoru Kitaoka, while Abdulkhalikov makes his Rizin debut after going 7-0 as a professional.

Kitaoka (42-19-9), who holds wins over the likes of Takanori Gomi, Paul Daley, Carlos Condit and Daron Cruickshank, looks to rebound from a defeat to Satoshi in April. Case (25-6-1) stopped Yusuke Yachi in his Rizin debut last December.

According to the promotion, more qualifying bouts will take place at Rizin 18, but the date and location for the event are yet to be announced. Rizin 19 will take place at the Osaka Gymnasium on Oct. 12.

Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire will also be part of the Rizin lightweight grand prix. The Rizin-Bellator co-promotion will also give Bellator Kickboxing talent Kevin Ross an opportunity in the Japanese ring, taking on Tenshin Nasukawa’s teammate Daiki Watabe in a kickboxing match at Rizin 17.

The updated Rizin 17 card now includes nine bouts.

Yusuke Yachi vs. Mikuru Asakura
Yuki Motoya vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo
Shintaro Ishiwatari vs. Ulka Sasaki
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Ali AbdulKhalikov
Satoru Kitaoka vs. Johnny Case
Roberto Satoshi vs. Mizuto Hirota
Seo Hee Ham vs. Tomo Maesawa
Jake Heun vs. Vitaly Shemetov
Kevin Ross vs. Daiki Watabe (kickboxing)

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