Two of Rizin’s premier 145-pounders will face off at Rizin Landmark 5 looking to bounce back into the win column and put themselves in line for a shot at featherweight gold.
The event, which will take place in a cage, rather than the usual Rizin ring, at Yoyogi National Stadium on April 29, will feature a featherweight battle between hard-hitting fan-favorite Asakura and former Rizin featherweight champion Juntaro Ushiku that sees both men looking to bounce back from high-profile defeats.
Asakura’s foray into boxing ended in a second-round knockout loss to boxing legend Floyd Mayweather in September 2022, while Ushiku lose his 145-pound title to Kleber Koike via second-round submission at Rizin 39 in October the same year.
Now they both return to compete for bragging rights in a bout that has been put together for the Japanese fighting fans.
“This fight is a fight between two different styles, so that’s what makes it intriguing,” Ushiku told reporters at a press conference in Yoyogi.
“It will be a great fight. I’m more used to the cage.”
Asakura, meanwhile, said he’ll return to the sport of MMA even better than before following his bout with Mayweather.
“It’s been a while since I’ve fought MMA. I’ve boxed and am confident that I have gotten stronger,” he said.
“I will guarantee a knockout within the second round. I have no damage from the Mayweather fight, so I feel good. I’ve been working grappling the most. I like the cage because it’s easier to defend takedowns.”
The event has been brought forward one day, from April 30 to April 29, and Rizin CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara explained the thought process behind the date switch.
“(On April 30), other organizations will be holding tournaments in Japan, and the athletes’ second camp will participate in both tournaments, so in order to balance with the others, we moved the schedule forward by one day,” he said.
“In order to avoid overlapping competitions and to reduce the stress of athletes and seconds as much as possible, it was moved forward by one day. I am grateful to the production staff who will be working a midnight shift to this decision.
“These upcoming events will be a grand sum of what RIZIN has been doing for the past 8 years. We will be introducing 2 new venues to RIZIN, both events were renovated for the Tokyo Olympics, and are very excited to bring RIZIN to such prestigious venues.”
The co-main event features another matchup of featherweight contenders, with former champion Yutaka Saito taking on kickboxer-turned-MMA contender Ren Hiramoto.
Rizin Landmark 5: Confirmed bouts
- Mikuru Asakura vs. Juntaro Ushiku
- Yutaka Saito vs. Ren Hiramoto
- Koji Takeda vs. Luis Gustavo
- Tsuyoshi Sudario vs. Roque Martinez
- Rena Kubota vs. Claire Lopez
- Kanna Asakura vs. Mei Yamaguchi
- Johnny Case vs. Ali Abdulkhalikov
- Masanori Kanehara vs. Sora Yamamoto
- Kazuma Kuramoto vs. Shinobu Ota
- Callyu Gibrainn vs. Mikio Ueda