Kyoji Horiguchi, Manel Kape, Shintaro Ishiwatari, Takafumi Otsuka Advance to Rizin Semifinals

By Brian Knapp Dec 29, 2017
Kyoji Horiguchi could not have envisioned a more beneficial outcome. He got in, and he got out.

The former Ultimate Fighting Championship title contender disposed of promising Brazilian export Gabriel Leite de Oliveira with punches in the first round of their 2017 Rizin Fighting Federation bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal on Friday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Oliveira (10-1) succumbed to blows 4:30 into Round 1.

Horiguchi (21-2) overwhelmed his counterpart with speed and technique. The American Top Team standout baffled Oliveira with unorthodox movement, darting in and out with lightning-quick punches. Horiguchi for a time engaged the Brazilian in the clinch and even executed a takedown but did real damage when he returned to his feet. A straight right followed by a left hook floored Oliveira, left him susceptible to a follow-up attack and resulted in the finish.

The 27-year-old Horiguchi has gone 3-0 since leaving the UFC and will carry a six-fight winning streak into the semifinals.

In the co-main event, Portuguese prospect Manel Kape put a massive feather in his cap and a massive hole in Ian McCall’s forehead, as he forced a doctor stoppage 1:46 into the first round of their emotionally charged quarterfinal. Kape (9-1) has won seven fights in a row, all of them finishes, none more important than this one.

McCall (13-6-1) stirred the pot with leg kicks and shot for a takedown as Kape fired wild punches and invited him forward. Kape countered with a tight guillotine, at which point it became apparent that the American had been cut and severely so. The laceration appeared to be caused by a ring rope, as McCall dragged his face across it in a bid to close the distance. McCall escaped the choke but not the watchful eye of the cageside physician, who deemed him unfit to continue.

Meanwhile, Pancrase titleholder Shintaro Ishiwatari (24-6-4) punched his ticket to the semifinals in spectacular fashion, as he knocked out Kevin Petshi with a counter right hook 4:31 into the first round of their quarterfinal pairing. The defeat snapped a four-fight winning streak for Petshi (12-4), a Snake Team representative operating out of France.

In the fourth and final bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal, reigning Deep champion Takafumi Otsuka submitted the previously unbeaten Khalid Taha (11-1) with a guillotine choke 3:23 into the third round. Otsuka (24-13-2) has rattled off five consecutive victories.

The tournament will conclude on New Year’s Eve, starting with the two semifinal matches: Horiguchi vs. Kape and Ishiwatari vs. Otsuka.

In other action, Jiri Prochazka cut down Karl Albrektsson with punches 9:57 into the first round of their light heavyweight affair; Kiichi Kunimoto took a unanimous decision from Satoru Kitaoka in a catchweight clash at 165 pounds; Jae Hoon Moon eked out a split decision against Anthony Birchak in their bantamweight grand prix reserve bout; Hiroyuki Takaya captured a unanimous decision over Baataryn Azjavkhlan in a featherweight encounter; Cindy Dandois walked away with a split verdict against Reina Miura in their women’s lightweight tilt; Kana Watanabe was awarded a unanimous verdict over Shizuka Sugiyama in a women’s flyweight encounter; and Kai Asakura wiped out Kizaemon Saga with a grounded knee strike 2:34 into the second round of their catchweight battle at 139 pounds.

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