Kenta Takizawa is coming off back to back Rizin defeats. The 26 year old certainly does not come into the bantamweight Grand Prix as one of the favourites.

But his KO of Hayato Ishii at Pancrase 309 earned ‘KO of the year’ honours at the 2019 Asian MMA Awards so it is very clear what sort of threat Takizawa brings. He has been matched with veteran grappler Masakazu Imanari in the opening round at Rizin 29 and intends to keep his distance from the 45 year old,

“Imanari is like a weird ass wizard. I prefer to stay away from guys with that aura (but) I can finish him from a distance, I’m confident in my abilities.”

His three fights with the promotion have all gone the distance. At Rizin 24 he beat Yuto Hokamura but Takizawa subsequently dropped decisions to veterans Hiromasa Ougikubo and Ulka Sasaki at Rizin 25 and Rizin 26 respectively.

Experienced opponents

This will be the third time in a row that Rizin has thrown the 26 year old in with a more experienced opponent but Takizawa is confident he will secure a different result this Sunday,

“The guys in this tournament are all totally beatable. I’m going to finish all of my fights. I’ll kill before being killed, I’m ready for him.”

That is fighting talk. The likes of Naoki Inoue and Kai Asakura have already booked their spots in the quarter final and Takizawa, who has never won a title in his career, clearly feels he is on that level.

It speaks to the generation gap between Takizawa and his opponent that the younger man is already thinking about finishing the fight in a way that will appeal to the modern social media audience,

“I have no plans on fighting him on the ground. My plan is to finish him with strikes. My finish will go viral.”

Destroy or be destroyed

Imanari does not appear to use social media himself so he probably won’t be too concerned about whether he can win in an aesthetically pleasing manner at Rizin 29. But he has 27 submission wins on his record and 12 of them have come by way of heel hook.

It is the sort of submission that fighters fear most because of the way it targets the knee. But with eight KO/TKO wins on his record including some that would grace any highlight reel Takizawa feels that he too is a man to fear.

He is well aware of the risks as he prepares to face Imanari and does not expect this contest to go the distance. The way Takizawa sees it he needs to finish the fight himself if he doesn’t want to get submitted,

“This fight will be a fight where I destroy or will be destroyed.”