The traditional Rizin new year’s eve extravaganza has been hit by Covid restrictions. Foreign fighters are currently unable to enter Japan so the event at the Saitama Super Arena will have a distinctly local feel.
There will be at least one title on the line at Rizin 33 with Japanese based Brazilian Roberto de Souza defending his lightweight title against Yusuke Yachi. The champion will be hoping to finish what has been a remarkable year for his team on a high note.
De Souza (12-1) submitted Tofiq Musayev at Rizin 28 to become the inaugural lightweight champion. Yachi (23-22) earned his title shot with back to back wins for the promotion.
Following his defeat at the hands of Team Bonsai’s Kleber Koike Erbst earlier this year Mikuru Asakura (15-3) will be looking to continue his comeback. He rematches former featherweight champion Yutaka Saito (20-5-2).
In the super atomweight division champion Ayaka Hamasaki (23-3) faces Seika Izawa (4-0) in a non title fight. At lightweight Koji Takeda (12-2) has been matched with Bey Noah (1-1).
As previously announced the bantamweight Grand Prix will conclude at Rizin 33. 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.
Rizin 33, Tokyo, December 31st
Roberto Souza (c) vs. Yusuke Yachi (For lightweight title)
Yutaka Saito vs. Mikuru Asakura (Featherweight)
Kyohei Hagiwara vs. Hiroaki Suzuki (Featherweight)
Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Seika Izawa (Super atomweight)
Koji Takeda vs. Beynoah (Lightweight)
Shoma Shibisai vs. Hideki Sekine (Heavyweight)
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)