The 2nd round of the RIZIN Open Weight Grand Prix took place last night from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. It was a night fight fans had long been waiting for since the opening round concluded back in September. Two of the most talked about matches going into the 2nd round were veterans Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic against Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal and relative newcomer Amir Aliakbari taking on veteran Heath Herring.
First we saw Aliakbari enter the ring against Herring. Coming into the fight, Amir was 3-0 having just debuted in October of 2015. His world championship level wrestling was on display early as he used it to control Herring for most of the match, eventually leading to a unanimous decision victory and keeping his unblemished record in tact.
Next was Cro Cop and King Mo. Entering the 2nd round of their fight down on the scorecards, Cro Cop was looking for a knockout victory before letting it go to the judges. He got what he was looking for when he unleashed a series of uppercuts in the corner, dropping King Mo. From there the ground and pound began until the ref jump in to stop it, awarding Mirko the TKO victory.
Now, sitting on opposite sides of the bracket, both Amir and Mirko have their sites set on one another in an impending finals matchup. But before that, they have to dispose of their semi-final opponents first.
Mirko is set to face former sumo standout Baruto Kaito while Amir will take on Valentin Moldavsky. Both Baruto and Valentin punched their tickets to the semi-finals via unanimous decision victories.
Fighters are told to never look past an opponent, but when it comes to storytelling we operate under a different set of rules and can’t help but to look at the makings of a potential historic finals matchup between Cro Cop and Amir. One of the biggest names in the history of the sport versus a rising star looking to make his name one with history as well.
For Mirko, a tournament win could very well be the cherry on top of an illustrious career. For Amir, coming out victorious could jumpstart his young career and put his name in the conversation for some of the sports best heavyweights.
RIZIN World Grand Prix 2nd Round Results:
Mirko Cro Cop def. King Mo Lawal via technical knockout (Round 2)
Amir Aliakbari def. Heath Herring via unanimous decision
Valentin Moldavsky def. Szymon Bajor via unanimous decision
Rin Nakai def. Kanako Murata via submission (rear-naked choke) (Round 3)
Baruto Kaito def. Tsuyoshi Kosaka via unanimous decision
Tenshin Nasukawa def. Nikita Sapun via technical knockout (Round 1)
Kazuyuki Miyata def. Andy Souwer via submission (arm-bar) (Round 1)
Yuki Motoya def. Allan Nascimento via split decision
Tatsumitsu Wada def. Kai Kara-France via unanimous decision
Yusuke Yachi def. Mario Sismundo via technical knockout (Round 1)
Alyssa Garcia def. Kanna Asakura via unanimous decision
Vadim Nemkov def. Alison Vicente via knockout (Round 1)
Satoru Kitaoka def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (guillotine choke) (Round 1)
RIZIN Fighting Federation (RIZIN FF) is a Japanese regional mixed martial arts organization. It was created in 2015 by the former Pride FC president Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
RIZIN FF will broadcast on Spike TV in. The same network that houses Bellator MMA. Other official partnering broadcasters will be SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, Fuji Television, Fox Sports Brazil, Kix and Match TV.