RIZIN held a post-event press conference on January 1st at Westin Hotel in Tokyo, and RIZIN head Nobuyuki Sakakibara revealed the plans for 2018.
First, Sakakibara talked about Tenshin Nasukawa, “If K-1 placed an offer to Tenshin and if he wants to do it then I won’t stop him. We do have a contract with Tenshin but I would like him to do whatever he wants to do. But instead of fighting Takeru (K-1 champ) I would like to propose a new challenge to him. I am talking to Takashi Ito (the chairman of TARGET) and Tenshin about a possibility of gathering world’s best kick boxers to do the GP. The four-men tournament we just did is a test for the future. I know many fans would like RIZIN to be MMA event but I think RIZIN should be like Makunouchi Bento (Lunch box with variety of foods) and something hot can be a spin-off so I think we could do all kickboxing event or kickboxing and MMA event”.
Then, Sakakibara talked about the event schedule for 2018.
The next event is May 6th at Fukuoka Marine Messe. Until then we are not promoting an event. I want to see fighters re-charge themselves and we are federations so we do not tie down fighters under the exclusive contract so I am fine if fighters want to fight in the other event. After May even we are doing event at end of July, end of September and end of December and that is going to be at Saitama Super Arena. If possible, I would like to add one event around August in Osaka or Nagoya. And also, I would like to do the event in overseas in mid October or November.
We have been doing two-day event at the end of December but this year I am thinking about doing only one event on December 31st. Grand Prix (tournament) can be difficult when we don’t have a fighter that can be the central axis. So, maybe we can stop doing Grand Prix this year and it can be all regular fight with new fighters that would emerge this year. Or we can still do Grand Prix again this year. We could gather fighters like (Takanori) Gomi, (Satoru) Kitaoka and “Strasser” Kiichi to do the lightweight GP at around 72 kg. Horiguchi could go up one more weight class too.”
Sounds like RIZIN is cutting down the number of events in 2018 and maybe concentrate more on kickboxing event since their biggest star is Tenshin.
Report by Shu Hirata
Photo courtesy of Bout Review (www.boureview.com)