The bantamweight Grand Prix will conclude at Rizin 33 on New Year’s Eve. The semi finals have been set with Hiromasa Ougikubo facing Naoki Inoue and Kai Asakura taking on Kenta Takizawa.
Former bantamweight champion Asakura (18-3) came into the competition as the favourite. Since signing for Rizin in 2017 the only two men to beat him are Kyoji Horiguchi and Manel Kape, who are both plying their trade in the US these days.
Takizawa (13-7) has won two fights out of five for Rizin and will be an underdog. But he can take heart from the performance of Alan Yamaniha who posed Asakura a lot of problems in the quarter final.
The biggest threat to Asakura is clearly posed by UFC veteran Inoue (15-2) so it is no surprise that the two men have been kept apart. He faces Ougikubo (23-5-2) who is the oldest fighter remaining in the tournament.
With the semi finals and final set to take place on the same night there will also be an alternate bout. Yuki Motoya (28-10) and Yuto Hokamura (14-10-2) will face off for the right to potentially step in and replace an injured finalist.
The event is set for the Saitama Super Arena but it doesn’t look like Rizin will be able to bring in any foreign fighters from outside Japan. The country introduced tight new travel restrictions today meaning that the likes of Tofiq Musaev will be unable to enter.
Rizin 33, Tokyo, December 31st
Hiromasa Ougikubo vs. Naoki Inoue (Bantamweight Grand Prix 1/2 final)
Kai Asakura vs. Kenta Takizawa (Bantamweight Grand Prix 1/2 final)
Yuki Motoya vs. Yuto Hokamura (Bantamweight Grand Prix alternate bout)