Back in the early 2000s, there was nothing bigger in Japan on New Year’s Eve than the massive combat sports events held in stadiums and super arenas around the country. That spell broke when the Yakuza’s deep involvement was revealed in mainstream news stories, but there’s still some life left in the Japanese NYE MMA scene and we got to witness some of it at the RIZIN New Years Eve weigh-ins that went down last night.
RIZIN is run by Nobuyuki Sakakibara, who was the head of the historic PRIDE promotion back in the glory days. He runs the organization almost like a pro wrestling show, booking freakshow fights like the 235 pound Brazilian grappler Gabi Garcia vs. 53 year old wrestler Shinobu Kandori. That fight, by the way, may not go down as Garcia came in 26 pounds above the contracted weight … but the whole thing may be a work to generate interest, so who knows?
K-1 and UFC veteran Mirko Crocop will also be at the event, taking on aging Tsuyoshi ‘TK’ Kohsaka (whose near KO of Fedor Emelianenko at Fedor’s height is still the stuff of legend). Also there: former UFC bantamweight contender Ian McCall, who was probably booked on the strength of his twirly mustache game because that’s how RIZIN rolls. He got into a brawl with Manel Kape, who continued his disrespect of McCall by slapping him upside the head.
Former UFC women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate is also in Tokyo supporting her friend Cindy Dandois, who has transformed herself into the Queen of Hearts to face off with KING Reina, whose shtick involves wearing a crown and carrying a teddy bear because why not?
And of course, the real reason you all clicked on this link: the anthropomorphic Cup Noodle Man who gives all fighters the energy to fight with honor and glory.
The RIZIN New Years event goes down December 29th and December 31st (yes, it’s a two night affair) at 1AM EST on Fite.TV.