After a long night of fights in Fukuoka, the RIZIN crew flew back to Tokyo to hold the drawings for the Bantamweight GP to determine the matchups for the Quarter Final bouts held on December 29th at the Saitama Super Arena, and the tournament bracket on which the winners will advance on the Semi Finals on December 31st.
Kyoji Horiguchi (20-2-0) and Takafumi Otsuka (23-13-1), who have already confirmed their advancement in the tournament by winning their opening matches, was joined by the newly confirmed quarter finalists, Shintaro Ishiwatari (23-6-4), Manel Kape (7-1-0) and Kevin Petshi (13-3-0). The other quarterfinalists Khalid Taha (11-0-0) joined the drawings via Skype from his homeland Germany.
Chairman Sakakibara announced that Tatsuya Kawajiri, who was originally going to take the wild card will not be participating in the tournament, and that he will continue to find the right fighter to take the wildcard spot. However, the former PRIDE boss announced that the other wildcard has been determined as Ian McCall (13-5-1). McCall aka Unclecreepy, the former Tachi Palace Fighting Champion, WEC contender and a UFC fight of the night winner, had just recently been granted his release from the UFC. “I’ve been through a lot in the last couple of years, but finally I feel physically and mentally ready to compete at my best. I was exploring my new opportunities, and RIZIN was doing this tournament, in Japan, with the old school rules. There is no reason for me not to come.”
The drawing continued on where fighters would pick a number from a box to determine the order each fighter would be picking their brackets. See below for the order of actual picking number
1st pick Ian McCall – chose Bracket A
2nd pick Khalid Taha – chose Bracket E (avoided McCall’s bracket)
3rd pick Takafumi Otsuka – chose Bracket F (Otsuka chose to fight Khali Taha)
4th pick Shintaro Ishiwatari – chose Bracket H (Avoided McCall’s bracket)
5th pick Kyoji Horiguchi – Chose Bracket C (Avoided to be McCall’s opponent, but same
Bracket for the Semi Finals)
6th pick Kevin Petshi – Chose Bracket G (Petshi chose to fight Ishiwatari over McCalland Horiguchi)
7th pick Manel Kape- Chose Bracket B (Kape chose Ian McCall over Horiguchi)
With the Drawings complete, the following fights are confirmed for December 29th.
1) Ian McCall vs Manel Kape
2) Kyoji Horiguchi vs TBD
3) Khalid Taha vs Takafumi Otsuka
4) Kevin Petshi vs Shintaro Ishiwatari
Winner of 1) and 2) will face each other in the Semi Finals on December 31st.
Winner of 3) and 4) will face each other in the Semi Finals on December 31st.
Horiguchi remains without an opponent, but will be fighting whoever organizers puts in front of him. One for sure candidate will be Gabriel Oliveira (10-0-0), who crushed the Crusher Tatsuya Kawajiri’s dream in participating in the GP as the wild card. It seems like it only makes sense to put Gabriel Oliveira as the wild card, but the RIZIN brass may have other fighters in mind.
When asked for the current feelings, each fighter responded in their own way; Ian McCall “I feel great, coming into the tournament healthy after a long time.” Pointing at Manel Kape, who has been provoking McCall the entire time,” being able to shut this guy up, nobody cares about you, and your record sucks.” Manel Kape responds, “I’m from the bottom MF, I feel great. This guy has been shaking the entire time, and I can see that he’s already scared. 1 round. I told everybody that I would finish Erson in 1
minute. Now I will finish this guy in 3 minutes.” Horiguchi seemed to be enjoying the tense talk, “I am sitting here without an opponent, and I can’t come up with a game plan, but I will do what I always do, and practice hard to be able to win this tournament.” “I knew that I as going to fight on December 29th, but I didn’t know who would be my opponent. And now that my opponent has been determined, I am more motivated than ever. I am excited to put on an exciting fight on December 29th.” Said Takafumi Otsuka, followed by Kevin Petshi “I am very happy to be able to advance to the Quarter Finals, and I will do everything I can to prepare for the December event.” Shintaro Ishiwatari started his comment by mimicking Manel Kape “I can feel that he is scared,” which created some smiles in the room. ”Jokes aside, I really want to fight Horiguchi in the Finals, so I will have to win each fight on the way. After watching the
opening rounds of this tournament, and fighting in it, I know for a fact that everybody in this tournament is tough, so it will be important to focus on every fight, and fight Horiguchi in the Finals.”
When asked why they chose this spot:
“I picked the number one spot because I am the number one in the world. Why else would I pick this spot?” Ian McCall
“I was going to pick A, but somebody already had it, so I picked B” Manel Kape
“I don’t have a particular reason why picked this spot, but would be nice to face a Japanese fighter in the Finals.” Kyoji Horiguchi
“I feel great I feel very good and am thankful for that. I feel good to be facing Otsuka. Like I said before, I will take my belt home.” Khalid Taha
“I had an option to fight either Ian McCall or Khalid Taha, but earlier in the waiting room, Ian offered to give me his nice socks, so I felt like he was a nice guy, and didn’t want to fight him in the beginning.” Takafumi Otsuka
“I wanted to fight Horiguchi. That is why I chose this spot.” Kevin Petshi
“My name is Ishiwatari, not Horiguchi. Horiguchi is sitting over there. Are you sure you made the right choice? If his goal is to fight Horiguchi in the finals, that is the same goal as mine. I saw him fight yesterday, and he is a solid fighter. I’m excited to be fighting with him to see who gets to advance.” Shintaro Ishiwatari
RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION – PRESS RELEASE
PHOTOS COURTESY – RIZIN FIGHTING FEDERATION