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Freakshow alert! Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Takanori Gomi added to RIZIN FF New Years event

It wouldn’t be New Years Eve in Japan without a little bit of freakshow combat sports, and now we have it with kickboxing star Tenshin vs. aging ‘Fireball Kid’ Takanori Gomi.

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Japanese promotion RIZIN FF’s New Years Eve show just got a whole lot freakier.

RIZIN FF 33 goes down on Dec. 31, 2021, from inside Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, featuring a Lightweight title fight between champ Roberto de Souza and challenger Yusuke Yachi, as well as a Bantamweight grand prix (see full fight card here). But, perhaps sensing that the card was lacking a little bit of that classic Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) freakshow sizzle, the promotion has announced the last-minute addition of Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Takanori Gomi.

It’s an odd one for sure. Tenshin is the promotion’s 23-year-old kickboxing star, and one day before the Gomi fight was announced the promotion revealed plans for a kickboxing “super” fight between Tenshin and K-1 kickboxing star Takeru Segawa in summer of 2022. That’s a bout worthy of Tenshin’s stature.

This “special standing rules” bout against a 42-year-old Gomi ... not so much.

The bout will be a two-round exhibition boxing match, although at what weight is unknown. Tenshin usually fights at 128 pounds, while Gomi’s last appearance (another NYE special rules boxing bout against a kickboxer) saw him weigh in at 172 pounds.

The fight is being billed as “The Last Dance” for Tenshin in RIZIN FF, although RIZIN is still involved in the Tenshin vs Takeru fight. It’s part of a very slow departure for Tenshin from the world of kickboxing as he prepares to switch his career and compete in straight boxing. We suppose this special standing bout — which is largely the same rules as a boxing bout — will be a nice little transition for Tenshin.

This isn’t Tenshin’s first freaky RIZIN FF New Years Eve endeavor. Back in 2018, he fought Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition boxing match that ended with Nasukawa getting sparked and knocked out cold. Gomi may be way over the hill and nowhere near Tenshin’s skill level, but he’s also 40 pounds heavier than the young kickboxer. Let’s hope this “Last Dance” doesn’t mess up the much more relevant Tenshin vs Takeru “super” fight later in 2022.

Here’s the full card for RIZIN FF 33, which airs in North America on LIVENow at 12 a.m. ET on Dec. 31, 2021 (so that’s midnight Thursday going into Friday morning).

  • Tenshin Nasukawa vs. Takanori Gomi (special standing rules bout)
  • Bantamweight grand prix finals
  • Champ Roberto de Souza vs. Yusuke Yachi (for the RIZIN lightweight title)
  • Mikuru Asakura vs. Yutaka Saito
  • Ayaka Hamasaki vs. Seika Izawa
  • Kyohei Hagiwara vs. Hiroaki Suzuki
  • Noah Bey vs. Koji Takeda
  • Hideki Sekine vs. Shoma Shibisai
  • Rena Kubota vs. Si Woo Park
  • Shinobu Ota vs. Kazuma Sone
  • Kai Asakura vs. Kenta Takizawa
  • Hiromasa Ogikubo vs. Naoki Inoue
  • Yuki Motoya vs. Yuto Hokamura