RIZIN Fighting Federation will kick off a 16-man bantamweight grand prix on May 23, and the fights were set during a press conference held Friday in Japan.
The eight matchups will go down at RIZIN 28 and RIZIN 29, which are scheduled for May 23 and May 30 at Tokyo Dome and Maruzen Intec Arena Osaka, respectively. The quarterfinals will be held in late September, and the finals during RIZIN’s New Year’s Eve show.
RIZIN has yet to announce the exact date for each opening round bout and the tournament brackets, but the matchups were set during a drawing that aired live online. The pairings, which include former champion Kai Asakura and legendary veteran Masakazu Imanari, are as follows:
- Shian vs. Takafumi Otsuka
- Kintaro vs. Kuya Ito
- Kenta Takizawa vs. Masakazu Imanari
- Takeshi Kasugai vs. Hiromasa Ougikubo
- Yuki Motoya vs. Ryo Okada
- Shooto Watanabe vs. Kai Asakura
- Kazuma Kuramoto vs. Alan Yamaniha
- Naoki Inoue vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari
The grand prix winner will pocket 10,000,000 JPY (approx. $91,000), double the money paid to the runner-up. RIZIN will also distribute five 1,000,000 JPY bonuses by the end of the tournament, awarding best bouts (two), best knockout, best submission and fastest finish.
RIZIN has yet to announce other fights for its debut at Tokyo Dome, but is hopeful that it will get clearance from the Japanese government to have lightweight champion Tofiq Musayev in the country to defend his belt against Roberto Satoshi.
For now, RIZIN will only be allowed to have 10,000 fans inside the arena on May 23, but the promotion is “optimistic” that this number will go up to 50 percent of the arena’s capacity by late May. The Tokyo Dome has welcomed up to 67,451 fans for a PRIDE event back in 2003. RIZIN also teased they are “thinking of some other crazy ideas” for the Tokyo Dome show.