Kenta Takizawa hasn’t fought since last New Year’s Eve when he dropped a decision to Kai Asakura in the semi finals of the bantamweight Grand Prix. He has since opened his own gym but is looking to claim a big scalp at Rizin 40 when he faces Naoki Inoue.

Takizawa knows that Inoue was one of the favourites to win the bantamweight Grand Prix. But he does not buy into the hype surrounding his opponent at all,

“I think Inoue is overrated, I don’t understand why people are so sure he will win. It’s not like he faced super tough opponents before going to the UFC.”

Vacant belt

Rizin has finally acknowledged that the bantamweight belt is vacant. Kyoji Horiguchi announced last year he had returned it in order to sign an exclusive deal with Bellator and a replacement has never been crowned.

Takizawa already has a spot in his brand new gym reserved for the silverware,

“This shelf is here the belt will go,” he told Rizin Confessions.

Inoue generally has very little to say for himself and isn’t exactly a fan favourite. Takizawa thinks that people want to see him losing and plans to deliver exactly that outcome,

“You all want to see Inoue getting knocked out? I can provide that.”

In the mix

Ougikubo has effectively created a vacuum by beating both Inoue and Kai Asakura to win the Rizin bantamweight tournament. He subsequently lost to Soo Chul Kim who is arguably the #1 contender in the division right now.

Takizawa knows that without two clear candidates to fight for the vacant belt he can put his name right in the mix with a win at the Saitama Super Arena on Sunday,

“I think beating Inoue will put me very close to the belt.”

With Ougikubo and Horiguchi dropping down to 125lbs to face one another Takizawa senses opportunity. The reigning champion and newly crowned Grand Prix winner are no longer in the division.

“I plan to win on New Year’s Eve and have the belt around my waist in 2023.”