Chihiro Suzuki shocked the world at Super RIZIN 2 this past month (July 30, 2023).
Upsets in mixed martial arts (MMA) don’t get much bigger than Suzuki’s first round knockout win over reigning former two-division and multi-time Bellator champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (watch highlights). Aggressively attacking with reckless abandon, Suzuki (11-3, 1 no contest) entered the fight fresh off a RIZIN Featherweight title fight defeat on less than five days' notice, stopping Pitbull with a barrage of punches.
Now, the 24-year-old striking sensation believes a rematch with Bellator Featherweight gold on the line is in order.
“I think the ideal situation would be a rematch against Patricio because we both didn’t have a full camp,” Suzuki told MMA Mania on the latest episode of BROADENED HORIZIN. “It was put together all of a sudden and there’s still so many people who are saying it’s a fluke. There’s always so many excuses to be able to make. So, regardless of who won that fight, there’s always so many excuses that people can make or that we can all make.
“Ideally, a rematch against Patricio with a proper fight camp would be great,” he continued. “Obviously, he’s coming off of a surgery so we’ll have to see how that goes and what Bellator does and whatnot. On the other hand, I got this opportunity because of RIZIN, they opened up all these doors for me so I think it makes sense for me to go after the RIZIN title, which is Vugar Karamov’s.”
Suzuki’s title fight before colliding with the legendary Pitbull turned into a unique scenario not often seen in MMA title fights in the East. At RIZIN 43 one month earlier (June 23, 2023), Suzuki battled Kleber Koike, who was stripped of his title on the scales after failing to make the 145-pound championship weight limit. Although Koike submitted Suzuki midway through the opening round with an armbar, he was ineligible to win, resulting in a no-contest outcome.
Super RIZIN 2 was yet another product of RIZIN and Bellator going big when given the opportunity. Suzuki and Pitbull weren’t originally scheduled to compete against anyone at the event, but the loss of A.J. McKee against Pitbull’s older brother, Patricky, led to each promotion pulling out all the stops.
Ultimately, Suzuki didn’t have to step in against one of his division’s all-time greats. The sour taste in his mouth from his Koike fight has just become unbearable.
“I was at a point where the opponent didn’t really matter, I was just wanting to fight,” Suzuki said. “I was just looking to fight. I lost to Kleber without being able to do anything and I was very disappointed in myself. I wanted to redeem myself, it couldn’t end like that and I was stuck in a position where I just couldn’t stand myself losing like that. So, I was at a point where I was gonna take any fight, it didn’t matter who it was. Whatever offer was put in front of me, I was gonna take it. It just happened at the time to be Pitbull.”
Suzuki, unsurprisingly, wants to get redemption against Koike. Time is his ally at such a young age, however, and he knows improvements can be made in the meantime. If things continue to go his way in the ring, the potential Pitbull rematch can be even bigger if he takes out Karamov before then.
“I feel obligated to be the face of RIZIN,” Suzuki said. “Fighting as RIZIN champion vs. the Bellator champion would be simply amazing. That would be awesome. That would be ideal.”
Watch the full episode in the video embedded above or listen on Spotify.