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RIZIN World Grand Prix 2017 results from Japan (Day 1): Ian McCall loses, Gabi Garcia scratched

UFC On FX: Alves v Kampmann Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Day one of Rizin’s big New Year’s show went down last night/this morning (Fri., Dec. 29) at the Saitama Super Arena, deciding the semifinals of the bantamweight Grand Prix and showcasing plenty of Japanese talent.

In the main event, tournament favorite Kyoji Horiguchi beat the snot out of unbeaten Gabriel Oliveira, who had knocked out Tatsuya Kawajiri in the previous round. Oliveira simply could not handle Horiguchi’s speed and power, going down twice before the referee stepped in to save him.

Ian McCall’s status as one of MMA’s unluckiest men was reinforced with a technical knockout loss to Manel Kape. Kape landed some strong punches early, prompting McCall to shoot in the corner. As “Uncle Creepy” drove forward, Kape’s framing forced his forehead to drag across the ropes, after which Kape cracked him with a knee. One or the other caused a massive cut above his left eye, prompting a stoppage. McCall is now 0-2 in the last three years.

Shintaro Ishiwatari scored a terrific one-punch knockout of Kevin Petshi after a long stretch of control from guard. Petshi made it to his feet in the waning seconds of the round, only to walk into a right hook that knocked him way the hell out.

The opening match of the bantamweight quarterfinals saw Takafumi Otsuka score a comeback submission over Khalid Taha, who had dominated the striking and mostly shut down Otsuka’s wrestling throughout the first two rounds. Otsuka survived some heavy blows to catch a guillotine in transition and punch his ticket to a fight with Ishiwatari in the semis.

Czech bruiser Jiri Prochazka again proved himself arguably the best light heavyweight not signed by a major promotion by beating down Karl Albrektsson. Albrektsson found early success with his wrestling, scoring two takedowns and landing some nasty ground-and-pound after the second one. Once Prochazka got up, though, his insane pace proved too much for Albrektsson to handle. He tore into the Swede with heavy punches until the ref stepped in right at the bell.

Former UFC competitor Cindy Dandois came up big in hostile territory with a decision over local favorite “King” Reina. Dandois started strong, but a good trip from Reina kept her on her back for the majority of Round Two. As both women began fading in the final round, Dandois hit a pair of late takedowns to win over two of the three judges.

Up at featherweight, Hiroyuki Takaya proved he’s still got something left in the tank with a decision over Baataryn Azjavkhlan. Despite the latter’s wrestling background, it was essentially a pure striking matchup wherein the 40-year-old “Streetfight Bancho” outworked and out-techniqued his foe. Wasn’t that entertaining, but a win’s a win.

Anthony Birchak’s struggles continued in a tournament reserve bout with Jae Hoon Moon. Birchak controlled the early going with strong takedowns, including a gorgeous headlock throw, but Moon’s relentless striking and scrambling soon drained the American’s gas tank. By the third round, Moon was just pummeling him, shrugging off his shots and landing both punches and a clean flying knee. Moon entered the fight with a .500 record, but looked damn good on his way to taking the split decision.

Kai Asakura picked up the night’s first finish by stopping late-replacement kickboxing veteran Kizaemon Saiga. The two went back-and-forth for about a round and a half before Asakura found the mark with a savage right hand in the corner. Saiga went down face-first, but the ref decided he hadn’t had enough, forcing Asakura to blast the downed Saiga with a knee to force the ref into action.

Judo veteran and prospect Kana Watanabe defeated veteran Shizuka Sugiyama in the second bout with, predictably, quality grappling. Impressively, this was just Watanabe’s second MMA fight, while Sugiyama had twenty prior bouts.

UFC veteran Kiichi Kunimoto beat down Satoru Kitaoka in the opening feature, dropping him in the first round and doing steady damage with straight rights throughout. Kitaoka absolutely went for it, but the size difference and his torn-up legs kept him from landing telling blows or scoring takedowns.

As for Gabi Garcia, her bout was pulled after yesterday’s weigh-in fiasco.


Kyoji Horiguchi def. Gabriel Oliveira by TKO (punches) in Round One

Manel Kape def. Ian McCall by TKO (cut) in Round One

Shintaro Ishiwatari def. Kevin Petshi by KO (punch) in Round One

Takafumi Otsuka def. Khalid Taha by submission (guillotine choke) in Round Three

Jiri Prochazka def. Karl Albrektsson by TKO (punches) in Round One

Cindy Dandois def. Reina Miura by split decision

Hiroyuki Takaya def. Baataryn Azjavkhlan by unanimous decision

Jae Hoon Moon def. Anthony Birchak by split decision

Kai Asakura def. Kizaemon Saiga by KO (punches and knee) in Round Two

Kana Watanabe def. Shizuka Sugiyama by unanimous decision

Kiichi Kunimoto def. Satoru Kitaoka by unanimous decision

Stay tuned for day two beginning tomorrow night!

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