Rizin Fighting Federation

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Rizin Fighting Federation
IndustryMixed martial arts promotion
FoundedSeptember 2015 (2015-09)
FounderNobuyuki Sakakibara
Key people
Nobuyuki Sakakibara
Nobuhiko Takada
ParentDream Factory Worldwide

Rizin Fighting Federation (Rizin FF) is a Japanese mixed martial arts organization created in 2015 by the former Pride Fighting Championships and Dream Stage Entertainment president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.[1][2]

The inaugural Rizin FF was broadcast in North America by Spike TV. Other past and present broadcasters include SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, Fuji Television, Fox Sports Brazil, Kix and Match TV.[3] Rizin FF streams exclusively on digital on FITE TV in North America and Europe.[4]



The precursors of RIZIN Fighting Federation were PRIDE (founded 1997, dissolved 2007), and DREAM (founded 2008, dissolved 2012). PRIDE was an original competitor of the UFC, largely considered to be the premier mixed martial arts organization worldwide, and produced many of the stars during the 'golden age' of MMA, who went on to become UFC champions and Hall of Famers. Once PRIDE was purchased by the UFC, they absorbed most of their contracted roster. Less than 1 year after PRIDE's final event, DREAM was founded. Most of the executives and staff from PRIDE sought to recreate the same philosophy and ambition that their former organization had. Upon the dissolution of HERO'S, Fighting and Entertainment Group collaborated with Dream Stage Entertainment to create DREAM. Despite running nearly 25 events across from 2008 until the end of 2012, and establishing partnerships with Shooto, M-1 Global, Elite XC, Strikeforce, ProElite, and ONE Championship, the promotion sunsetted in the summer of 2012.

Official Announcement[edit]

On September 19, 2015 during Bellator 142 Dynamite 1 event, it was announced that Nobuyuki Sakakibara had signed one of the most successful and famous heavyweights in history, former Pride Heavyweight Champion 'The Last Emperor' Fedor Emelianenko to headline his new promotion's New Year's Eve Show in Tokyo. Then, on October 8, 2015 the former President of Pride FC - Nobuyuki Sakakibara - held a press conference to announce his return to MMA with Rizin Fighting Federation. Sakakibara returned to mainstream MMA, along with Nobuhiko Takada and other former Pride FC employees. The concept of the event was to create a platform where all promotions and fighters can compete while keeping their diverse culture, customs and characteristics. With countless promotions existing globally, RIZIN seeks to gather top competitors to determine who is the best; not competing with existing organizations as a sole promotion. Rather, to structure a federation to host, hold and operate fights.

Aside from the previously announced presence of Emelianenko (who was speculated to fight against Jaideep Singh), Kazushi Sakuraba was announced to take on Shinya Aoki, as well as female competitors Gabi Garcia and RENA.[5] Finally, the classic Grand Prix tournament was announced (held at 100kg or roughly 220lbs), with champions and competitors from Bellator, KSW, Jungle Fight[6], BAMMA, and King of Kings. Most notably, King Mo was announced to represent Bellator in the tournament.[7] All bouts will take place in a ring under PRIDE rules. In attendance were Bellator president Scott Coker, and Spike TV executive Jon Slusser, with Coker stating that his promotion and network were fully committed to supporting RIZIN. Coker went on to say, "There was a time not long ago where the best fighters in the world fought here in Japan four or five times a year."[8] The winner of the Grand Prix was to take home the prize of $500,000. The 8-man bracket was officially finalized on November 30th, 2015, with other bouts also being announced shortly thereafter.[9][10][11][12]

Kron Gracie (whose father Rickson competed at the inaugural PRIDE event) was announced to participate against Asen Yamamoto.[13] Amongst the veterans in the Japanese scene, Tsuyoshi Kosaka would face James Thompson,[14] and Akebono Tarō would face Bob Sapp.[15] In the spirit of Japanese MMA, Sakakibara mentioned that he wanted to bring back every fighter that shined in PRIDE to the RIZIN ring, and even proposed a potential 'master class' for those who were over 45 years old, citing Dan Henderson as an example of someone who can still compete at that age. Sakakibara was quoted, "My personal opinion is that athletes today don’t fight because of a few kilos. Because of two or three kilos, we can’t book a fight that could be very interesting. We want to change this mentality. Fans are missing many great fights, like Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, because of a little difference in weight. We won’t force anyone to fight, of course, but if the athlete wants to fight despite a few kilos, we will promote the fight. Of course, always respecting the safety of the fighters." Initial plans for the annual schedule were to do at most four events per year, as opposed to the frequent schedule of the UFC, in order to build up the excitement and anticipation for RIZIN events - similar to the World Cup of soccer. Scheduled to take place on the 29th and 31st of December in 2015, the first event will commemorate PRIDE, and the second event will usher in the RIZIN era.[16]

RIZIN's Concept[edit]

The title 'RIZIN' is a combination of two meanings, one of which is "Raijin", the god of lighting, thunder and storms in ancient Japan, and the other being "rising" - as to prosper and thrive. The final touch is added by the last alphabet letter, 'Z', meaning 'ultimate'. The title expresses the goal to rise to the very top and still continue to climb higher. The concept of the event is to have a platform for the top competitors from the best organizations in the world gather, and compete to determine the best. As a pioneer of an event of such kind, RIZIN is aiming to apply the three following concepts:

  • "Finale" - a platform where fighters at the top of their careers may one more time create an indescribable heat on stage
  • "Foundation" - a platform where young, ambitious MMA talents may rise and create a dramatic change to the new generation
  • "Future" - a platform where all promotions and fighters may compete while keeping their own unique culture, customs and traditions

RIZIN FF is a platform where all the three concepts take place in a single event.

Inaugural Event[edit]

In December 2015, Rizin Fighting Federation hosted the first Rizin World Grand-Prix, a two-part 100 kg tournament held to find the "world's best fighter". The tournament was held over the course of two events, with eight fighters competing in an opening round and the four winners returning two days later for the final round. The second round of the tournament was broadcast in the United States and featured American fighter Muhammed Lawal winning the tournament by defeating Brett McDermott, Teodoras Aukstuolis, and Jiri Prochazka in the two-day event.

Grand Prix 2016[edit]

On July 16, 2016 Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced at a press conference that Rizin Fighting Federation will host a 16-man openweight tournament September 25 in Tokyo. Former PRIDE Grand Prix champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and former PRIDE middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva to participate in the tournament. Despite the rubber-match not being realized due to an injury sustained by Silva, Mirko "Cro Cop" won the championship, defeating Hyun Man Myung, King Mo, Baruto, and Amir Aliakbari all via stoppage.

Grand Prix 2017[edit]

After the RIZIN Yokohama event in April, Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced that they will host a women Super Atomweight 49kg Grand Prix, Bantamweight 61kg Grand Prix, as well as a one-night 4-man kickboxing tournament on New Years.[17] Former UFC title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi finished all of his opponents en route to winning the championship, and Kanna Asakura caused an upset in the tournament, defeating RENA in the finals to become the first ever RIZIN women's champion. Kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa knocked out both of his opponents to win the kickboxing tournament.

Super Fights, Inception of Championships, Bellator Partnership 2018[edit]

At RIZIN's new year event - RIZIN 14 - Kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa squared off in an exhibition bout against boxing legend Floyd Mayweather, Horiguchi defeated Bellator Bantamweight Champion Darrion Caldwell to win RIZIN's first ever Bantamweight championship.

Grand Prix 2019[edit]

After Roberto Satoshi Souza was set to face Mizuto Hirota in a lightweight grand prix qualifier bout, Sakakibara announced that Satoru Kitaoka will face UFC vet Johnny Case at RIZIN 17 for another place in the 8-man grand prix, which starts in October. Bellator lightweight Patricky Freire will also participate, deepening the partnership that Bellator has with RIZIN.

List of Rizin FF events[edit]

# Event Date Venue Location Attendance
23 Rizin 20 - Saitama December 31, 2019 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan
22 Rizin 19 - Osaka October 12, 2019 Edion Arena Japan Osaka, Japan 5,098
21 Rizin 18 - Nagoya August 18, 2019 Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium Japan Nagoya, Japan 6,281
20 Rizin 17 - Saitama July 28, 2019 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 16,930
19 Rizin 16 - Kobe June 2, 2019 World Memorial Hall Japan Kobe, Japan 8,107
18 Rizin 15 - Yokohama April 21, 2019 Yokohama Arena Japan Yokohama, Japan 12,914
17 Rizin 14 - Saitama December 31, 2018 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 29,105[18]
16 Rizin - Heisei's Last Yarennoka! December 31, 2018 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 7,498[19]
15 Rizin 13 - Saitama September 30, 2018 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 27,208
14 Rizin 12 - Aichi - Ken August 12, 2018 Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium Japan Nagoya, Japan 5,567
13 Rizin 11 - Saitama July 29, 2018 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 17,912
12 Rizin 10 - Fukuoka May 6, 2018 Marine Messe Fukuoka Japan Fukuoka, Japan 7,910
11 Rizin World Grand Prix 2017: Final Round December 31, 2017 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 18,316
10 Rizin World Grand Prix 2017: 2nd Round December 29, 2017 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 15,539
9 Rizin World Grand Prix 2017: Opening Round - Part 2 October 15, 2017 Marine Messe Fukuoka Japan Fukuoka, Japan 7,732
8 Rizin World Grand Prix 2017: Opening Round - Part 1 July 30, 2017 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 17,730
7 Rizin 2017 in Yokohama: Sakura April 16, 2017 Yokohama Arena Japan Yokohama, Japan 12,729
6 Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Final Round December 31, 2016 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 19,357
5 Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: 2nd Round December 29, 2016 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 16,642
4 Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: 1st Round September 25, 2016 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 15,011
3 Rizin 1 April 17, 2016 Nippon Gaishi Hall Japan Nagoya, Japan 7,291
2 Rizin World Grand Prix 2015: Part 2 - Iza December 31, 2015 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 18,365
1 Rizin World Grand Prix 2015: Part 1 - Saraba December 29, 2015 Saitama Super Arena Japan Saitama, Japan 12,214

Weight classes[edit]

Weight class Upper weight limit
Atomweight 47 kg (103.6 lb)
Super atomweight 49 kg (108.0 lb)
Strawweight 51 kg (112.4 lb)
Super strawweight 53 kg (116.8 lb)
Flyweight 55 kg (121.3 lb)
Super flyweight 58 kg (127.9 lb)
Bantamweight 61 kg (134.5 lb)
Super bantamweight 64 kg (141.1 lb)
Featherweight 67 kg (147.7 lb)
Super featherweight 70 kg (154.3 lb)
Lightweight 73 kg (160.9 lb)
Light welterweight 76 kg (167.6 lb)
Welterweight 80 kg (176.4 lb)
Light middleweight 84 kg (185.2 lb)
Middleweight 88 kg (194.0 lb)
Light heavyweight 93 kg (205.0 lb)
Heavyweight 100 kg (220.5 lb)
Super heavyweight Unlimited

Current champions[edit]

Division Champion Since Defenses
Light Heavyweight Czech Republic Jiří Procházka April 21, 2019 0
Bantamweight Japan Kyoji Horiguchi December 31, 2018 0
Women's Atomweight Japan Ayaka Hamasaki December 31, 2018 1

Championship history[edit]

Light Heavyweight Championship[edit]

Weight limit: 93 kg (205.0 lb)
No. Name Event Date Defenses
1 Czech Republic Jiří Procházka
def. Muhammed Lawal
Rizin 15
Japan Yokohama, Japan
April 21, 2019

Bantamweight Championship[edit]

Weight limit: 61 kg (134.5 lb)
No. Name Event Date Defenses
1 Japan Kyoji Horiguchi
def. Darrion Caldwell
Rizin 14
Japan Saitama, Japan
December 31, 2018

Women's Super Atomweight Championship[edit]

Weight limit: 49 kg (108.0 lb)
No. Name Event Date Defenses
1 Japan Ayaka Hamasaki
def. Kanna Asakura
Rizin 14
Japan Saitama, Japan
December 31, 2018 1. def. Jinh Yu Frey at Rizin 16 on June 2, 2019

Grand-Prix Champions[edit]


Weight Class Champion Runner-up Event Date Tournament Bracket
Rizin Heavyweight 100 kg 2015 United States Muhammed Lawal Czech Republic Jiří Procházka Rizin WGP 2015: Part 2 - Iza December 31, 2015 Rizin 100 Kg Grand-Prix bracket
Rizin Openweight 2016 Croatia Mirko Filipović Iran Amir Aliakbari Rizin WGP 2016: Final Round December 31, 2016 Rizin Openweight Grand Prix 2016 bracket
Rizin Bantamweight 61 kg 2017 Japan Kyoji Horiguchi Japan Shintaro Ishiwatari Rizin WGP 2017: Final Round December 31, 2017 Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix 2017 bracket
Rizin Women's Super Atomweight 49 kg 2017 Japan Kanna Asakura Japan Rena Kubota Rizin WGP 2017: Final Round December 31, 2017 Rizin Women's Super Atomweight Grand Prix 2017 bracket


Weight Class Champion Runner-Up Event Date Tournament Bracket
Rizin Kickboxing Flyweight 57 kg 2017 Japan Tenshin Nasukawa Japan Yamato Fujita Rizin WGP 2017: Final Round December 31, 2017 Rizin Flyweight KB Tournament

Notable fighters[edit]

Czech Republic Jiří Procházka

Affiliated organizations[edit]

Rizin FF is affiliated with the following organizations:[20]


  1. ^ "Nobuyuki Sakakibara discusses Rizin FF plans for 2016, Fedor Emelianenko's opponent, drug testing and more". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  2. ^ "Former Pride FC boss: Fedor's opponent will mean something for future of MMA". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  3. ^ "Event Summary Rizen Fighting Federation". rizinff.com. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  4. ^ "Rizin FF Partners with FITE TV". sherdog.com. Retrieved 2017-04-01.
  5. ^ "Long after his prime, Kazushi Sakuraba is in the position to save Japanese MMA". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  6. ^ "Newly crowned Jungle Fight champion enters Rizin FF heavyweight tournament". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  7. ^ "'King Mo' to represent Bellator in Rizin light heavyweight grand prix". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  8. ^ "No opponent for Fedor Emelianenko announced at Rizin FF introductory press conference". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  9. ^ "Rizin announces heavyweight tournament bracket". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
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  11. ^ "Bellator fighter Brennan Ward, additional mixed-rules fight announced for Rizin debut". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  12. ^ "Jerome LeBanner returns to MMA at Rizin". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  13. ^ "Kron Gracie added to Rizin FF card in December". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  14. ^ "Fedor Emelianenko still without an opponent, Tsuyoshi Kosaka to face James Thompson at Rizin". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  15. ^ "Rizin signs Sapp vs. Akebono rematch for its debut". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  16. ^ "Nobuyuki Sakakibara discusses Rizin FF plans for 2016, Fedor Emelianenko's opponent, drug testing and more". mmafighting.com. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  17. ^ "Bantamweight 61 kg Grand Prix". twitter. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  18. ^ "Floyd Mayweather dominates Tenshin Nasukawa in exhibition". japantimes.co.jp.
  19. ^ "Rizin Heisei's Last Yarennoka! and RIZIN 14 official results and post fight backstage interviews". fightbookmma.com.
  20. ^ "RIZIN Fighting Federation". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2015-11-25.

External links[edit]