UFC Vet Kiichi Kunimoto Takes On Satoru Kitaoka At RIZIN World GP 2017: 2nd Round
RIZIN FF officials unveiled during a press conference in Tokyo that four more bouts will be added to the 3-day New Year’s Eve spectacle. On top of previously announced fights between King Reina versus Cindy Dandois and Takanori Gomi versus Yusuke Yachi, a few more Japanese MMA veterans have been enlisted to make the festivities even grander.
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On the December 29 card, former UFC welterweight “Strasser” Kiichi Kunimoto will face off against the always entertaining Satoru Kitaoka in a 75kg catchweight bout.
The 36-year-old Kunimoto had a four-year stint with the US-based promotion where he only stepped into the Octagon five times accumulating a 3-2 record. He will try to revitalize himself by returning to Japan and facing another gritty veteran.
Kitaoka, the DEEP lightweight champion, has been fighting for all the top organizations in Japan for his entire career. Even though he has had tremendous success the last few years, in his most recent outing last July for RIZIN, he was completely demolished by Yusuke Yachi in the second round. The 37-year-old is moving up 5kg to meet Kunimoto in the middle to make this matchup happen.
During the press conference, these two rivals had a little back and forth.
Kunimoto stated, “I used to have some beef with Kitaoka, so I am very happy to get this opportunity, and I know that Gomi and Yachi are fighting at 72kg. I can work my way down to 72kg and make this division great, so I plan to beat Kitaoka and move on.”
Kitaoka responded, “I don’t remember anything, it’s a fight, I don’t care about anything else.”
Additionally, Pancrase featherweight contender “Streetfight Bancho” Hiroyuki Takaya will collide with Mongolian prospect Baataryn Azjavkhlan and JMMA pioneer Shizuka Sugiyama will meet Judoka Kana Watanabe in a 57kg catchweight match.
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For the kickboxing fanatics, RIZIN will conduct a one-night tournament on the December 31 card with 19-year-old phenom Tenshin Nasukawa as the main attraction. The promotion held a campaign to find his opponent and after filtering through more than 30 applicants, RIZIN Chairman Sakakibara decided on Lethwei champion Yuta Hamamoto.
The other side of the bracket was filled by Yamato Fujita versus longtime strawweight King of Pancrase Mitsuhisa Sunabe.