2016

2016

2016

Kron Gracie’s world-class ground game was again on display in Sunday’s Rizin FF 2 headliner. He submitted Hideo Tokoro in the first round of their featherweight fight at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Gracie (3-0) went to his strength from the outset. He got Tokoro (33-29-2) on the ground and worked his magic by advancing position and trying to finish the fight by submission. Tokoro, the most experienced opponent Gracie has faced in MMA, was resilient and scrambled free on more than one occasion.

Tokoro had his chances to create distance and to try to strike in the 10-minute first round, but he instead dove right back into the fire and tried to attack Gracie on the mat. He paid for that decision, and with time winding down in the round, Gracie took the Japanese fighter’s back and locked in a slick rear-naked choke to force the tap out at 9:45 mark of Round 1.

“This was a great match for me,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a tough match. This guy has a lot of experience. I trained really hard for this. I’d like to thank Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz – all the guys at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. … Everyone that’s helped me along the way, you know who you are. Thank you very much” (via Twitter):

Kron Gracie choked Hideo Tokoro pic.twitter.com/c1ozucL5Nh

— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) September 25, 2016

Rena submits Yamamoto in co-headliner

Shoot-boxing star Rena Kubota (2-0) showed again that she has more than a striking attack at her disposal with her first-round submission of Miyuu Yamamoto (0-1).

After a competitive first few minutes of fighting in the 107-pound catchweight contest, the 42-year-old Yamamoto made a critical error when she exposed her neck after being hit with numerous hard strikes. Kubota noticed the opening and secured a tight front choke that Yamamoto didn’t have the experience or knowledge to escape.

Yamamoto was forced to tap out from the choke at the 4:10 mark of Round 1, which have Kubota her second submission win in as many tries. Afterward, Kubota, 25, praised Rizin FF for promoting women’s MMA fights and giving her the opportunity to showcase her skills (via Twitter):

Rena! Rena 1R subm (vs. Miyuu Yamamoto) pic.twitter.com/YQpSL1FBqV

— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) September 25, 2016

‘Cro-Cop,’ ‘Baruto’ wins highlight start of World Grand Prix 2016

Szymon Bajor (16-6) became the first fighter to advance through the opening round of the Rizin FF World Grand Prix 2016 when he earned a unanimous decision win over Teodorasu Aukstuolis (9-4).

After losing the standup in the first round, Bajor came back with takedowns in the second. He put his size advantage to use, taking control of dominant positions and pounding on his smaller opponent until time expired.

Speaking of dominant ground positions, Amir Aliakbari (3-0) used the crucifix to trap Joao Almeida (4-2) and the ground and pound his way to a first-round TKO win, which earned him a slot in the second round of the tournament.

Almeida protested the stoppage to referee Jason Herzog. However, after being put on his back within seconds, trapped in the position and hit with numerous punches, it was obvious he wasn’t going to escape.

In the third tournament bout, Valentin Moldavsky (4-0) advanced when he was forced to go to a decision for the first time in his career – this one against Karl Albrektsson (5-1).

Moldavsky continued his undefeated pro run and ended his opponent’s when he outworked Albrektsson over the course of the 10-minute fight to earn the judges’ unanimous nod.

In the fourth tourney bout, Jiri Prochazka (18-3-1) overcame an early knee injury to outpoint a timid Mark Tanios (5-2) for a unanimous decision in an underwhelming affair.

Prochazka twisted his knee early and had to adjust his game plan. He still pressured Tanios on the feet, though, and kept his retreating opponent on his heels with jumping attacks and takedowns to win the fight. The extent of Prochazka’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but if serious, it could potentially rule him out of the second round (via Twitter):

Jiri Procházka #RIZIN2016 pic.twitter.com/SDY7h5ziAD

— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 25, 2016

Monstrous 400-plus sumo wrestler turned fighter Kaito Hoovelson (2-0) became the fifth man to advance to the second round of the tourney when he outpointed longtime Japanese MMA mainstay Kazuyuki Fujita (15-12) by unanimous decision.

“Baruto’s” size is a sight to behold. He took a handful of clean punches from the 45-year-old Fujita but walked right through them while stalking his opponent when necessarily and landing some knees from inside as well as other damaging strikes. It wasn’t the most action-packed bout of the tournament, but Hoovelson got the win and is going to be a problem for whoever he encounters next (via Twitter):

Baruto vs Fujita pic.twitter.com/gctb4wmVfb

— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) September 25, 2016

Mirko Filipovic (32-11-2) closed out the opening round of tournament action when he submitted an overmatched Hyun Man Myung (3-3) with a first-round arm-triangle choke.

“Cro Cop” went away from his trademark striking game and took down Myung with a trip, and before long, he had the submission at 2:20 of Round 1. After the fight, Filipovic called out longtime rival Wanderlei Silva, who was sitting ringside for the bout.

“You have no idea how good I feel right now and how happy I am to be in Saitama again,” Filipovic said. “I heard that Mr. Wanderlei Silva wants to fight me on Dec. 29. He can come up here and ask him if he really wants it” (via Twitter):

GP Open Weight Tournament 1st Round – Mirko Cro Cop (Croatia) 1R subm, (vs. Hyun Man Myung (South Korea)) pic.twitter.com/oFFE1dDJlX

— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) September 25, 2016

Silva entered the ring and began a lengthy back-and-forth with Filipovic and the Rizin FF ring announcer. The fighters, who have competed against each other twice in the past, negotiated a third showdown for the second round of the tournament on Dec. 29. Silva accepted the matchup, and according to the event broadcast, the fight is now set.

“I came here to fight the best,” Silva said. “And I think tonight, the best is Mirko. I don’t care about name. I don’t care about size. I want to fight you. … Mirko is one of the best fighters in the world. He’s an absolute legend. I came here to make Rizin just like PRIDE was. The best fighters in the world are here in this organization to fight for you the fans” (via Twitter):

Mirko Cro-Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva 3 is apparently official for Rizin on Dec. 29. We’ll see. pic.twitter.com/6R7B6HG5RP

— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) September 25, 2016

Cro Cop vs. Baruto in December. We are not worthy. pic.twitter.com/TW5v0GalAC

— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 25, 2016

Cruickshank swerves from striking battle, submits Souwer

In a battle of two decorated lightweight strikers, former UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank (18-8) pulled a fast one on Andy Souwer (1-1) when he took their fight to the mat just minutes in and secured a fight-ending submission.

Souwer is a longtime kickboxing ace who was competing in MMA for just the second time. His lack of experience was costly; Cruickshank saw an opening and pounced. Souwer was clueless once he was on the mat, and that’s when “The Detroit Superstar” locked up the rear-naked choke for the tap at 4:10 of Round 1.

“First, he’s a legend, and it was an honor to fight him,” Cruickshank said. “Second, we’re both great strikers, and it was whoever was great outside of the striking that was going to win the fight” (via Twitter):

Daron Cruicshank (USA) 1R subm. (RNC) (vs. Andy Souwer (Netherland)) pic.twitter.com/2SbYUgdUzs

— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) September 25, 2016

‘Krazy Horse’ scores 7-second TKO, calls out Wanderlei

In what was one of the strangest few minutes of the year, Charles Bennett (30-30-2) made his return to Japanese MMA prominence and scored a seven-second TKO win over Wanderlei Silva prodigy Minoru Kimura (0-1).

“Krazy Horse” dropped Kimura with his first punch of the fight then finished the job with a few strikes on the mat. He promptly jumped to the top rope for his signature backflip and then proceeded to deliver an odd post-fight interview, most of which was directed at Silva.

Depsite a nearly 50-pound weight disadvantage, Bennett made it clear he wants to fight Silva, whom he shared a 2005 altercation with. They’ve had bad blood ever since (via Twitter):

#RIZINFF Performance of the Night pic.twitter.com/bgv9qMiJ5N

— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 25, 2016

this is just holy_shit.mp4 in my hard drive pic.twitter.com/v8oPzlimFn

— Jessica Hudnall (@LegKickTKO) September 25, 2016

Murata’s grappling proves too much for Batara

Highly touted Japanese strawweight prospect Kanako Murata (4-0) added another win to her undefeated record when she outgrappled scrappy Kyra Barata (5-4) for a unanimous-decision victory.

At 23, Murata proved her buzz is justified with a performance that saw her outwork her opponent in the three-round fight. Her amateur-wrestling background kept her one step ahead as she landed hard strikes and attempted submissions. She couldn’t finish the fight, but she still gained key minutes of experience in her young career (via Twitter):

#RIZIN2016 pic.twitter.com/0v4RW8C4gJ

— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 25, 2016

Garcia overwhelms Yarbrough for submission win

Brazilian jiu-jitsu standout Gabi Garcia (3-0) won her third MMA fight even more dominantly than her previous two when she submitted professional football player Destanie Yarbrough (0-1) in the first round of the their open-weight fight.

Garcia, who weighed 245 pounds for the fight, put her size and strength advantage to use when she put Yarbrough on her back early in the opening frame and overwhelmed with her grappling expertise. Garcia advanced to mount and isolated the arm of her opponent for a keylock submission at the 2:42 mark of Round 1.

“I’m the queen of Japan,” Garcia said in her post-fight interview. “I’m the queen” (via Twitter):

Gabi by keylock pic.twitter.com/6IXsggGRgQ

— caposa (@GrabakaHitman) September 25, 2016

The full Rizin FF 2 results include: