Huge news coming out of Japan on April 1st where Rizin promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara is set to make his competitive debut. He has clearly been working out ahead of the contest with Buakaw Banchamek which appears to be a last minute addition to today’s card.

Sakakibara was recently in Thailand where he met with Quentin Jackson, Bob Sapp and Jon Nutt. But judging from these photos the 59 year old has clearly been hitting the gym:


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Today’s card

For fans who have already bought tickets to Rizin 41 in Osaka today this will be an unexpected bonus. The event is set to be headlined by a kickboxing bout between Koji Tanaka and Ryusei Ashizawa and the two men got into a brawl at the press conference.

In the co-main event UFC veteran Yoshinori Horie returns. The rising featherweight star will be taking on Vugar Karamov at the Maruzen Intec Arena.

Meanwhile welterweight veterans Kiichi Kunimoto and Keita Nakamura go head to head. In the newly launched Rizin flyweight division Makoto Takahashi has been matched with Daichi Kitakata.

In truth it isn’t Rizin’s strongest fight card and gullible fans will be excited about the prospect of seeing the promotion’s founder facing one of the most recognizable kickboxers on the planet.

Teasing fans

Sakakibara did meet with Buakaw during his recent trip to Thailand. He shared a photo of the two men and told fans to

Stay tuned.

He appeared to be hinting that Buakaw might sign with Rizin although it’s possible the two men might not have been discussing anything more serious than an April Fool’s prank. The Japanese promotion does put on kickboxing fights but the focus is firmly on MMA.

There will be five kickboxing fights on today’s card including the main event. It will be interesting to see how many fans stay behind after Kouzi and Ashizawa have finished fighting in the hope of seeing Sakakibara fight Buakaw.

Hopefully not too many!