Yusuke Yachi lost five fights in a row for Rizin. At the end of 2020 many fans thought it was time for him to retire after a dreadful run of form.

But Yachi bounced back. He went on to score decision wins over Shooto lightweight champion Yuki Kawana and Dream lightweight champion Koji Takeda.

His reward for this late renaissance is a shot at the champion. At Rizin 33 on Friday he will face Roberto de Souza in a rematch, the Brazilian handed Yachi the fourth loss during that run of defeats.

Yusuke Yachi and Mikuru Asakura

Rizin FF

Rock bottom

Yachi knows there is an element of fortune involved in him earning this title shots. Other contenders like Johnny Case and Tofiq Musaev are currently unable to enter the country due to Covid-19 restrictions.

So he has skipped to the front of the queue and thinks winning the belt would be the perfect ending to his comeback story,

“When I was given this offer I thought I was lucky. I came back from rock bottom and seeing me with that belt around my waist would make a great picture.”

Yusuke Yachi punches Koji Takeda

Rizin FF

Potential weakness

The first fight lasted less than two minutes and Souza has finished his last three opponents inside a round. The Brazilian is the man to beat in the lightweight champion but Yachi sees some weaknesses he can potentially exploit at the Saitama Super Arena,

“Satoshi has been winning in great style and he seems unbeatable but he has holes for sure and I plan to expose them.”

Yachi has enlisted the services of Shinya Aoki to help him prepare for the rematch. The veteran grappler has been working with him on his submission game and handing out tips on how to escape from adverse positions.

Yusuke Yachi kicks Koji Takeda

Rizin FF

Changed everything

Having endured a difficult run of results Yachi says he made some changes. The 31 year old’s preparation for this fight has been very different from the camp he went through ahead of Rizin 22,

“I’ve changed everything about my camp. From coaches to game plans. So I am feeling confident and excited about this fight, everyone thinks I’m going to lose nobody can even imagine me winning. I want that belt.”

Yachi clearly comes into this contest as the underdog. He has three wins in his last eight fights and has been stopped three times during this run.

But Yachi seems to blow hot and cold. He went on a five fight winning streak immediately after signing with Rizin and if he can recapture this form the 31 year old could complete the most unlikely of title runs.