Rizin 45 is five weeks away and the card was bolstered by the addition of four fights this morning. While there was no sign of either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao at the press conference the event on December 31st will feature Kota Miura.

He returns to MMA after an absence of over a year to take on Koji Tanaka in a fight that doesn’t seem to have an official weight limit. The kickboxer had announced his retirement after losing to Ryusei Ashizawa at Rizin 4 in April.

‘Kouzi’ will be making a comeback but under a completely familiar ruleset. After competing in kickboxing for the best part of 14 years he will be switching to MMA.

It is a sport that Miura (2-0) has slightly more experience in. He is also an established fan favourite in Japan because his father, Kazuyoshi Miura, was one of the best footballers of his generation.


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Retirement fight

While Miura is a rising star one of Rizin’s most experienced female fighters will be returning to the ring at the age of 49. Miyuu Yamamoto (6-7) will be fighting for the first time in 2023 when she takes on Seika Izawa (11-0) in a super atomweight fight.

The two were originally set to face off at Rizin 42 but Yamamoto withdrew due to injury. The veteran is facing the promotion’s reigning super atomweight champion in what will be her final fight.

The matchmakers have given Yamamoto the most difficult retirement fight possible. Izawa has never lost a fight and won the super atomweight tournament last year, beating Si Woo Park in the final.

Two more

Two more fights were added to the card today. In the welterweight division Brazilian submission specialist Igor Tanabe (4-0) takes on UFC and Bellator veteran Shinsho Anzai (9-5).

At featherweight Satoshi Yamasu (13-7) faces Suguru Nii (16-12). The former is coming off a decision loss to Ren Hiramoto at Rizin Landmark 4 while the latter has won his last four.


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Inaugural title

Kyoji Horiguchi will challenge for the inaugural flyweight title at Rizin 45. He has been booked to face Makoto Takahashi in a rematch

Horiguchi challenged Takahashi for the inaugural Bellator flyweight title recently at Super Rizin 2 but that bout ended in a no contest after an accidental eye poke. Horiguchi had a successful UFC career competing at 125lbs but moved up to bantamweight after signing with Rizin.

Takahashi had won ten in a row heading into the first fight. He is the former Deep flyweight champion and hasn’t lost a bout since 2018.

Bantamweight belt

One of Horiguchi’s former opponents will continue his quest to win the bantamweight belt at Rizin 45. Kai Asakura has challenged for the title twice before and will be hoping to make it third time lucky when he takes on Juan Archuleta.

Archuleta won the vacant title at Super Rizin 2. He outpointed Hiromasa Ougikubo, who had beaten Asakura in the bantamweight tournament final in 2021.

Asakura returned from injury earlier this year to take on Yuki Motoya at Rizin 42. He won that fight with a knee to the body in the third round to earn his third shot at the bantamweight title.

Best of the rest

Six more fights have been confirmed for the card. UFC veteran John Dodson takes on Hiromasa Ougikubo in what could turn out to be a title eliminator in the flyweight division.

Two former Rizin featherweight champions who have fallen on hard times will collide when Kleber Koike takes on Yutaka Saito. The Brazilian is winless in his last three while the Japanese fighter has lost three out of his last four.

Rising heavyweight star Tsuyoshi Sudario has been added to the Rizin 45 card. The former sumo wrestler will face Mikio Ueda at the Saitama Super Arena on December 31st.

Minoru Kimura’s drug ban appears to have ended. The Brazilian will be taking on former K-1 super lightweight champion Rukiya Anpo in a lightweight kickboxing fight.

Rizin 45, Tokyo, December 31st
Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Takahashi (For flyweight title)
Juan Archuleta (c) vs. Kai Asakura (For bantamweight title)
Seika Izawa vs. Miyuu Yamamoto (Super atomweight)
Kota Miura vs. Koji Tanaka (Unknown)
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. John Dodson (Flyweight)
Koike Kleber vs. Yutaka Saito (Featherweight)
Tsuyoshi Sudario vs. Mikio Ueda (Heavyweight)
Kickboxing: Rukiya Anpo vs. Minoru Kimura (Lightweight)
Shinobu Ota vs. Ryusei Ashizawa (Bantamweight)
Satoshi Yamasu vs. faces Suguru Nii (Featherweight)
Igor Tanabe vs. Shinsho Anzai (Welterweight)