A bantamweight title bout between Kyoji Horiguchi and Kai Asakura is believed to be penciled in for Rizin’s December 31st show. But Justin Scoggins believes that there could be a 135lbs tournament getting underway on that date.

The American is expecting to feature on the Rizin 20 card and is hoping it will be as part of a bantamweight Grand Prix,

“I believe that they’re working on a possible Grand Prix tournament for the bantamweight division. Nothing is solidified, no-one has given me confirmation, but that’s what the word has been and it sounds like it’s going to start on New Year’s Eve, I’ll be back there for the tournament.”

At Rizin 19 the promotion’s uncrowned bantamweight king Asakura scored another big stoppage win, this time at the expense of Ulka Sasaki. He had been expected to face Horiguchi in an immediate rematch.

That bout could well be in the works. But Scoggins believes both men will be involved in a bantamweight tournament,

“It’s a bantamweight tournament so I’m sure they’ll be guys like Horiguchi, Asakura, Manel Kape… The roster’s full of really good 135lbers and I think the tournament a really good idea. It’s going to give them a really good opportunity to display to everybody the best bantamweights in the world.”

Change of scenery

Scoggins is coming off a decision win over Kazuma Sone at Rizin 18. It snapped a four fight losing skid for the UFC veteran who is enjoying life in Japan,

“It felt really good to get back in the win column and, as far as fighting for Rizin, they’ve been treating me really well. They’ve always held up their end of the deal with their contracts and I feel like I’ve gone in there and put on a show every time so I’m definitely excited about growing the relationship between me and the organisation.”

Having spent his entire career competing for American promotions Scoggins is enjoying the Japanese culture,

“Oh yeah man I’ve always wanted to go over there! They’re so rich in martial arts history. And all the fans over there are really educated on the art or whatever so it’s cool being around a bunch of fans who really know what’s going on and their culture is just steeped in that martial arts history.”

While many fighters aspire to end up with the UFC he feels Rizin is making waves and starting to enjoy the same sort of global recognition,

“Rizin is a worldwide organisation, everyone’s got their eyes on it. They’re doing big things, they’re doing good with their promotion. Getting guys like Floyd Mayweather who’s the biggest name in fighting, to come over there and put on a show is great so they’re doing exciting things.”

Big ambitions

Scoggins had initially been scheduled to face Asakura at Rizin 15 but withdrew due to injury. He couldn’t have foreseen how much success the 25 year old would subsequently have but was confident of victory,

“I had taken a fight with Asakura on short-notice and that wasn’t a thing to me because I was planning on going there and wrecking that guy in the first place. Then he gets to fight against Horiguchi and upsets him, knocks him out so, you know, in my head, due to those calculations, I just feel like I would beat the crap out of both of them.”

Should the bantamweight tournament go ahead Scoggins will get the chance to test himself against the promotion’s top 135lbers. He wants to avenge his loss to Yuki Motoya and hopes the victory over Sone will mark the start of a long winning streak,

“I’m ready for whoever in that tournament, I hope Sasaki ends up in it, I hope Montoya ends up in it because I could tear my way through that and get some wins back.”