High Fives: Drama From Yokohama

By Guy Portman Apr 22, 2019
The bouts of interest outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship took place in Asia during the weekend of April 19-21, as the Rizin Fighting Federation promotion staged Rizin 15 on Sunday at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan.



A NEW CHAMP … Rizin 15 was headlined by a battle for the promotion’s light heavyweight title, as it pitted Muhammed Lawal against Jiri Prochazka. The first two frames saw the two fighters trade punches. In the third, the Czech combatant poured on the pressure on the feet against his noticeably tiring American adversary. The end came via a flurry of punches, which dumped Lawal to the canvas 3:02 into Round 3. In claiming the belt, Prochazka, now 24-3-1, avenged a December 2015 loss to Lawal. Meanwhile, “King Mo” slipped to 21-9 with one no-contest.



BEATDOWN … Japan’s Kyoji Horiguchi and America’s Ben Nguyen met in a 132-pound catchweight match. Nguyen took his rival’s back early, but Horiguchi stayed calm and escaped. When the action returned to feet, the powerful Japanese fighter took control and soon overwhelmed his fellow UFC veteran. The finish was delivered through a barrage of Horiguchi hooks next to the ropes that felled the American to one knee and led the referee to call a halt to the proceedings at the 2:53 mark of Round 1. The emphatic victory upped the heavy-hitting Horiguchi’s record to 27-2. Nguyen dropped to 16-9.



BREAKING THE MOLD … Brazil’s Roberto de Souza fought Japanese veteran Satoru Kitaoka at lightweight. The clash between the two respected grapplers was expected to take place largely on the mat, and that is where much of the early action occurred. In the first round, de Souza threatened with a rear-naked choke and armbar, but Kitaoka survived. In the second, the Brazilian escaped a leg lock attempt. Later in the frame, as the two pugilists engaged in a brawl on the feet, the taller de Souza used his length advantage to land straight punches. Having sent Kitaoka crashing to his back with a right cross, he followed up with two more shots before the referee jumped in 3:56 into Round 2. With the victory, de Souza maintained his unblemished record at 8-0, Kitaoka dipped to 42-19-2 in defeat.



BRUTAL BODY SHOT … Angola’s Manel Kape squared off with Japan’s Seiichiro Ito in a flyweight tilt. In the second stanza, the two pugilists dueled on the feet in the center of the ring, as the Angolan connected with a left hand to the midsection that dropped Ito to one knee. The referee then stepped in and called a halt to the match 3:59 into Round 2. Kape improved to 13-4 with the win, while Ito fell to 12-3-2.



VON FLUE CHOKE … Rizin 15 featured a strawweight encounter between Japan’s Kanako Murata and Mexico’s Saray Orozco Rodriguez. In the second round, Murata secured mount position, with her Mexican rival clinging to her neck with her right arm. The Japanese combatant responded by driving her weight into the shoulder of the gripping arm. The choke rendered her opponent unconscious and ended the contest at the 2:21 mark of Round 2. With her second successive Von Flue choke victory, Murata moved to 9-1. The vanquished Rodriguez slipped to 4-3.

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