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Rizin 14- Saitama: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Tenshin Nasukawa
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Rizin 14- Saitama: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Tenshin Nasukawa

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On December 31, 2018, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, Rizin 14- Saitama was held.  This was a massive year end mixed martial arts event held by the Rizin Fighting Federation. Rizin is a Japanese mixed martial arts organization that was created in 2015 by the former Pride Fighting Championships and Dream Stage Entertainment president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.  

Rizin History

On September 19, 2015, during the Bellator 142 Dynamite 1 event (held in San Jose, California and headlined by Tito Ortiz versus Liam McGreary), it was announced that Nobuyuki Sakakibara had just signed former Pride Heavyweight Champion, Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko, to headline his new promotion's New Year's Eve Show in Tokyo.  Following this announcement, on October 8, 2015, Sakakibara held a press conference to announce his return to MMA with Rizin Fighting Federation. At the conference, he announced that he would bring along Nobuhiko Takada (former Pride FC executive and fighter, and famous Japanese professional wrestler), and other former Pride FC employees to create "a platform where all promotions and fighters can compete...not competing with existing organizations as a sole promotion.  Rather, to structure a federation to host, hold, and operate fights" for all fighters.

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First Rizin Event

He also annouced that Kazushi Sakuraba, famed MMA legend, would fight Shinya Aoki, as we as female competitors Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend, Gabi Garcia (fought Lei'D Tapa), and MMA star Rena Kubota (fought Jleana Valentino) would also be on the card.  To top off this stellar event, Rizin would be hosting the first Rizin World Grand-Prix, which was a 2 day tournament to decided the best open weight fighter. The tournament was held over the course of two events with eight fighters competing in the opening round (December 29th), and the four winners returning two days later (December 31st) for the final round.  With their announcement at Bellator, Rizin also partnered with Bellator MMA to allow their fighter (and former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion) Muhamed "King Mo" Lawal compete. During the tournament, King Mo, would KO Brett McDermott, win a three round decision over Teodoras Aukstuolis, and KO Jiri Prochazka, to win the $300,000 first place prize.

In addition to the Grand Prix, other notable fights on Rizin's first card included Fedor Emelianenko defeated Singh Jaideep by TKO, Kron Gracie defeated Erson Yamamoto by Submission (Triangle Choke), and Shinya Aoki defeated Kazushi Sakuraba by TKO (this event happened on the  December 29th show- the first round of the Grand Prix).

Rizin 14- Saitama: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Tenshin Nasukawa

As Japanese MMA promotions would dictate, Rizin held another blockbuster event for New Years Eve on December 31, 2018.  This card was headlined by kickboxing and MMA sensation Tenshin Nasukawa, who took on undefeated multiple weight world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a three round exhibition boxing match.  Also fighting on the card would be former UFC fighter and Rizin star Kyoji Horiguchi versus Bellator MMA Bantamweight World Champion Darrion Caldwell for the inaugural Rizin Bantamweight Championship belt.

The main event of Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Tenshin Naskukawa was an exhibition bout for three rounds under boxing rules.  Because it was an exhibition bout, the results would also not reflect on either fighter’s professional record.

Round 1

The fight started with Mayweather smiling and moving loosely.  He then landed a body shot and dropped Tenshin with a left hook.  Tenshin was able to get up and landed a straight left to Mayweather’s body.  Mayweather responded with another body shpt and a big upper cut that dropped Tenshin again.  Tenshin got up again only to be dropped again by a Mayweather right. At this point, Tenshin Nasukawa’s corner threw in the towel and Mayweather danced in victory.

After the bout, Mayweather said that he did not have a training camp for the fight.   He stated, “I went to the gym a few times and moved around…” He also bragged over Instagram, “What if I told you I was making $9,000,000 for 9 minutes of sparring in Tokyo, Japan”?  

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather Jr, at the age of 41, is widely considered as one of the (if not the) greatest  pound for pound boxer. The Ring, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, BoxRec, and Fox Sports have all ranked him the best in the world in the last 10 years.  He fought professionally from 1996 to 2007 and then 2009 to 2015, when he announced his retirement in the ring after defeating WBA interim champion Andre Berto on September 12, 2015.  However, on August 2017, he came out of retirement to fight MMA star Connor McGregor in a boxing match, which he dominated before winning via TKO in the 10th round.  This last bout with Tenshin was his second fight post retirement.

During Floyd’s career, he has held multiple world titles in five weight classes and the lineal championship (undisputed champion) in four weight classes.  Floyd has an undefeated professional record of 50-0 with 27 wins by Knock Out. As an amateur, Floyd won a bronze medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and won three US Golden Glove championships, and the US National championship.

In addition to his boxing prowess, Floyd is one of the most lucrative pay per view draws/attractions of all time.  He has topped the Forbes lists of highest paid athletes in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Throughout his career, he has generated over 23.8 million Pay per View buys, and $1.67 billion in revenue.

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Tenshin Nasukawa

Tenshin Nasukawa was born on August 18, 1998 (20 years old) in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.     He is a Japanese kickboxing and mixed martial arts star, and is the current Rise Kickboxing featherweight world champion, former Rise bantamweight champion, and the 2017 Rizin kickboxing flyweight tournament champion.  According to Combat Press, Tenshin is the #8 batamweight kickboxer in the world (as of November 2018). He is also a rising Mixed Martial Arts star, with an undefeated 4-0 record, winning all of his fights in the Rizin Fighting Federation.

His father enrolled him in karate classes when he was five years old to instill discipline in him.  He continued training, and by the time he was in sixth grade, he was winning national level competitions.   He was able to amass a record of 99 wins and five loses before he turned professional.

Tenshin first rose to fame when he had knockout victories over former IBF boxing world champion Amnat Ruenroeng and Lumpinee Stadium Muay Thai champion Wanchalong PL Senchaigym- which was even voted as the 2016 Knockout of the Year by Combat Press.  In that fight, which took place on December 5, 2016, Tenshin made his debut Muay Thai fight, and was able to knock out the champion with a spinning back kick- all while he was still in high school.

Tenshin has a kickboxing record of 28 wins and zero loses, with his last fight on November 17, 2018 with a TKO (3 knockdown) win over Taiki Naito on the Rise 129 fight card.  He is the Rise Bantamweight (55kg) champion, the Rise Featherweight (57kg) Champion, the ISKA Oriental Rules Bantamweight (55kg) World Champion, the 2015 Blade Japan Cup (55kg) Tournament Champion, and the 2017 Rizin Flyweight (57kg) Kickboxing Tournament Champion.

Mixed Martial Arts

After Tenshin made his professional Muay Thai debut on December 5, 2016, Japanese MMA promotion Rizin Fighting Federation offered Tenshin his first MMA fight on their December 29th event.  Although this was such a short notice fight, Tenshin accepted the fight and was able to defeat Nikita Sapun by TKO (Punches) on December 29th, 2016 at the Rizin World Grand Prix 2016, 2nd Round event.  Tenshin enjoyed the experience, he announced after the fight that he would fight again in MMA in just 2 short days.  Rizin president Nobuyuki Sakakibara granted his wish and he fought Dylan Kawika Oligo on December 31, 2016 at the Rizin World Grand Prix 2016: Final Round and won by submission- guillotine choke at 3:37 of the second round.  He has since fought MMA two more times, compiling a 4-0 undefeated record, with his last fight on October 15, 2017 at Rizin World Grand Prix 2017: Opening Round – Part 2, when he defeated Yamato Fujita by unanimous decision.

Boxing

Despite taking on arguably the best boxer of all time in this recent exhibition match, Tenshin has not fought professionally in boxing yet.  By the time he was 14, Teiken Promotions offered him a signing bonus of $100,000 to box. However, Tenshin turned down the offer due to his love for kickboxing (the Japanese Boxing Commission does not allow Japanese professional boxers to fight in any other professional combat sports).  

Despite Tenshin’s TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr on November 16, 2018, where he was knocked down 3 times in the first round (leading his corner to throw in the towel), many people believe Tenshin has a huge future in boxing.  Two time world champion and trainer of other world champions, Hideyuki Ohashi, is convinced he can win a world title within his first 2 professional fights. Tenshin was even offered a spot on the 2020 Summer Olympics team, but has not accepted yet.  

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