Two more fights have been added to the Rizin 44 card. The event takes place at the Saitama Super Arena on September 24th and will feature the return of Erson Yamamoto.

Yamamoto (4-5) has been handed some very difficult matchups during the course of his Rizin career. He has been in with the likes of Hideo Tokoro, Manel Kape, and Kazuyuki Miyata.

His family name clearly precedes him and the flyweight has been handed another difficult looking assignment here. He faces Ryuya Fukuda (20-7) who comes into this contest on a seven fight winning streak.

The other fight added to the card today pits Takaki Soya (12-5-1) against Ramazonbek Temirov (16-2) in another flyweight fight.


Featherweight bout

As previously announced Juntarou Ushiku will face Kyohei Hagiwara  in a featherweight clash that headlines the card. Both men are looking to get their careers back on track after some indifferent recent form.

Ushiku is coming off back to back losses but they have both come at the hands of top ranked 145lbers. He lost his title after getting submitted by Kleber Koike at Rizin 39 then dropped a decision to Mikuru Asakura at Rizin Landmark 5.

Hagiwara is coming off possibly the best win of his career. He earned a decision win over Kyle Aguon at Rizin 41 in April, snapping a run of three straight losses.

Like Ushiku he has been matched with some of the promotion’s top 145lbers. He has been stopped by Kleber Koike and Chihiro Suzuki and also dropped a decision to Mikuru Asakura.

Road back

Kleber Koike’s road back to the featherweight title begins with Masanori Kanehara at Rizin 44. The Brazilian will be looking to recapture a belt he never really lost at the Saitama Super Arena on September 23rd.

Koike was stripped of the belt and saw his submission win over Chihiro Suzuki changed to a no contest after missing weight by 0.25lbs ahead of Rizin 43. The promotion wasted no time in crowning a new featherweight champion with Vugar Karamov now owning the belt.

Kleber (31-6-1-1) will be going up against an opponent who has won three in a row for Rizin. Kanehara (31-14-5) won the Songoku featherweight tournament in 2009 and has plenty of experience.

Other additions

In the lightweight division Yoshinori Horie has been matched with Spike Carlyle. Both men will be looking to bounce back from recent defeats on Rizin cards.

At featherweight Yoshiki Nakahara faces Rikuto Shirakawa while Kazumasa Majima goes up against Takeji Yokoyama.

Bantamweights Taichi Nakajima and Ryo Okada go head to head. At heavyweight Todd Duffee has been matched with Tsuyoshi Sudario.

International expansion

On November 4th Rizin will be holding a card outside of Japan for the first time in its history. The promotion will be heading to the city of Baku on Azerbaijan.

Last weekend Vugar Karamov was crowned as the promotion’s featherweight champion. The Azerbaijani submitted Mikuru Asakura and will surely be hoping to make the first defence of that belt on this card.

Lightweight Grand Prix winner Tofiq Musayev could also be in action. The Azerbaijani made his name with Rizin but these days he fights for Bellator, although like Karamov he is coming off a win at the Saitama Super Arena last weekend.

Rizin 44, Tokyo, September 23rd
Juntarou Ushiku vs. Kyohei Hagiwara (Featherweight)
Kleber Koike vs. Masanori Kanehara (Featherweight)
Yoshinori Horie vs. Spike Carlyle (Lightweight)
Yoshiki Nakahara vs. Rikuto Shirakawa (Bantamweight)
Kazumasa Majima vs. Takeji Yokoyama (Featherweight)
Taichi Nakajima vs. Ryo Okada (Bantamweight)
Todd Duffee vs. Tsuyoshi Sudario (Heavyweight)
Erson Yamamoto vs. Ryuya Fukuda (Flyweight)
Takaki Soya vs. Ramazonbek Temirov (Flyweight)