Rizin Fighting Federation Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Both Cards
There was one word for the first two events of the Rizin promotion: sprawling.
Contested in Japan over two separate nights, Rizin Fighting Federation 1 and 2 hosted more than 30 fights, a sampling of MMA stars spanning the past three decades, old-world (by MMA standards) showmanship, a ring instead of a cage and a multiday tournament.
Oh, and the second event, Rizin FF 2, also saw the return to action of one Fedor Emelianenko, who you may know as perhaps the most globally famous MMA fighter ever, non-Ronda Rousey division.
Over the course of the two events—the high points of which were condensed into a single broadcast that aired Thursday morning on Spike TV—there was plenty of action and more than a few moments noteworthy for their violence or, you know, just their good, old-fashioned strangeness.
As usual, the final stat lines only reveal so much. These are the real winners and losers from across both of the cards of this fledgling promotion.
For the literal-minded among us, full results for both cards are available on the final slide.
Winner: Fedor Emelianenko
This was not exactly a close fight.
Coming into this fight, Jaideep Singh was 2-0 in pro MMA. His pro kickboxing resume was a lot deeper and more impressive but not so awesome MMA-wise.
In his triumphant return to MMA after three years away, the 39-year-old Fedor Emelianenko made sure everyone understood that.
After Emelianenko connected with a takedown, he got full mount and worked his vaunted ground-and-pound. Singh didn't have much of an answer outside of turning his head back and forth like a kindergartener looking to shake free of some pesky flies.
Ultimately, Singh tapped out to punches to end the contest. Was it a career-defining win for Emelianenko? No, but it'll do. Will his next opponent be a stiffer challenge? Eh, probably not. But it couldn't be a whole lot less stiff. And that's saying something.
Loser: Shinya Aoki
Emelianenko's triumphant return marked the main event of Rizin FF 2. In Rizin FF 1, which began its full broadcast at 1 a.m. ET in the United States, the headliner was an almost equally famous competitor. He was just a lot older and facing a far better opponent.
Kazushi Sakuraba made a name for himself in the Pride promotion. At Rizin 1, he returned to pro MMA after more than four years away and at the age of freaking 46 to face Shinya Aoki, one of the best lightweights in the world and the 155-pound champion in Asia's ONE Championship promotion.
The good news for Aoki? He dominated from the opening horn. Part of the reason may have been his training with ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren.
“I had the opportunity to train with Ben Askren," Aoki told James Goyder of MMA Weekly. "And seeing his technique every day...had a significant impact on me. His style is something I would like to try to emulate.”
He did well in that regard, holding Sakuraba down and mercilessly pounding him on the ground until the referee finally, mercifully, called a stop.
The bad news? It seemed to take a lot of out Aoki mentally.
If it did, that would put Aoki in good company. After it was over, he was visibly upset at having brutalized such a legend of the sport.
Aoki did nothing wrong, and Sakuraba took pains to congratulate him. But Aoki was just as distressed about the beating as anyone else who saw it. This one didn't feel good.
Winner: King Mo
Muhammed Lawal took the metaphorical defense given to him. Good on him for doing so.
When the smoke cleared, King Mo was the winner of Rizin's heavyweight grand prix, which spanned both events.
Lawal, an accomplished wrestler, was able to control and then knock out Brett McDermott in Rizin 1. At Rizin 2, he beat Lithuanian Teodoras Aukstuolis by decision in the tournament's semifinals.
Later that evening, he used one massive right hand to knock out Jiri Prochazka, who earlier in the event survived an outstanding and probably exhausting affair with fellow top prospect Vadim Nemkov, to take the tourney.
The wins certainly offered some wind for King Mo's career sails. The 34-year-old has now won seven straight.
Loser: People Who Like Boring Television
A lot of hardcore MMA fans continue to pine for the long-gone days of Pride, when fighting was an unabashed spectacle and there were laser lights and dancing girls to prove it.
The UFC has stepped away from such theatrics, preferring more of a, shall we say, utilitarian approach to production.
For many, Rizin offered a welcome throwback.
Promotion officials wasted no opportunity to bring out the showmanship and the pyrotechnics. That wasn't lost on viewers. As MMA analyst Adam Martin noted on Twitter, "I've missed Japanese MMA in my life like you wouldn't know."
It was not an isolated sentiment.
Winner: Bob Sapp
For someone who is famous for losing much more than he wins, you have to give Bob Sapp credit when he does indeed pull out the W.
Especially when he had to deal with someone as obnoxious as Akebono.
To back up a second, the 46-year-old Akebono is mainly known as a former sumo wrestler and current professional wrestler in Japan. He hadn't competed as a pro fighter since 2006.
In 2003, he lost a kickboxing bout to Sapp in what was a widely watched event in Japan. This was the not-so-hotly desired rematch.
Sapp is a physically imposing character but hadn't fought professionally since 2013. On the MMA side of his ledger, he had lost no fewer than 12 consecutive bouts. Stepping into this cage, he was 42 years old.
Perhaps Akebono wasn't the most imposing of opponents, but Sapp still hammered away. Akebono halted the match several times to wipe away blood and (one can fairly easily imagine) catch his breath. But it was to no avail. Sapp ultimately took the TKO.
It wasn't pretty, but give credit where it's due. Sapp is (finally) a real winner again.
Loser: Felipe Efrain
Hold on with the flying, Buckaroo!
Felipe Efrain earned an exciting knockout win over fellow flyweight Yuki Motoya during Rizin 1.
There was just one catch.
Efrain had missed weight earlier. Under Rizin rules, that changed the outcome of the bout to a no-contest. The unfortunate failure robbed the 22-year-old of what was probably the biggest win of his young MMA career.
Maybe make weight next time.
Full RIzin FF 1 and 2 Card Results
Rizin FF 2
- Muhammed Lawal def. Jiri Prochazka by KO, 5:09, Rd. 1
- Fedor Emelianenko def. Jaideep Singh by submission (punches), 3:02, Rd. 1
- Kron Gracie def. Erson Yamamoto by submission (triangle choke), 4:58, Rd. 1
- Andy Souwer def. Yuichiro Nagashima by TKO, 5:28, Rd. 1
- Kaido Hoovelson def. Peter Aerts by unanimous decision
- Gabi Garcia def. Seini Draughn by TKO, 2:36, Rd. 1
- Soo Chul Kim def. Maike Linhares by unanimous decision
- Brennan Ward def. Ken Hasegawa by submission (rear-naked choke), 1:52, Rd. 2
- Jiri Prochazka def. Vadim Nemkov TKO, 10:00, Rd. 1 (retirement)
- Muhammed Lawal def. Teodoras Aukstuolis by unanimous decision
- Rena Kubota def. Jleana Valentino by submission (flying armbar), 3:31, Rd. 2
Rizin FF 1
- Shinya Aoki def. Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO, 5:56, Rd. 1
- Jiri Prochazka def. Satoshi Ishii by KO, 1:36, Rd. 1
- Vadim Nemkov def. Goran Reljic by KO, 2:58, Rd. 1
- Teodoras Aukstuolis def. Bruno Henrique Cappelozza by KO, 3:32, Rd. 1
- Muhammed Lawal def. Brett McDermott by KO, 9:10, Rd. 1
- Valentin Moldavsky def. Yuta Uchida by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:20, Rd. 1
- Hiroyuki Takaya def. Daiki Hata by unanimous decision
- Hideo Tokoro def. Kizaemon Saiga by submission (armbar), 5:16, Rd. 1
- Anatoly Tokov def. A.J. Matthews by KO, 0:55, Rd. 1
- Felipe Efrain vs. Yuki Motoya ruled no-contest (Erain TKO win overturned because he missed weight)
- Kirill Sidelnikov def. Carlos Toyota by TKO, 2:23, Rd. 1
- Tsuyoshi Kosaka def. James Thompson by TKO, 1:58, Rd. 2
Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.