Kleber Koike is finally getting his shot at the RIZIN featherweight title.
A former 145-pound titleholder at KSW, Koike was hoping to challenge Yutaka Saito in October 2021, but an injury forced RIZIN to change plans. DEEP champion Juntarou Ushiku stepped in and dethroned Saito. A year later, Koike celebrates his opportunity in the main event of Sunday’s RIZIN 39 in Fukuoka, Japan.
“RIZIN said they were going to do a featherweight GP so I live inside an imaginary GP, and now I’m in the final,” Koike said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocacao Franca. It’s going be beautiful, just like all the other times .”
Koike signed in 2020 with RIZIN and he dominated five of his opponents, including Mikuru Sasaki and Ulka Sakasaki. The Brazilian tap-tapped Kyohei Hachiwara in 97 second during his May performance.
“He’s never had to fight someone like him,” Koike stated. “I’m going straight forward and will make him miss. To force him into changing his game, or get him onto his back, all I have to do is grab him .”
Koike stated that RIZIN initially planned to book him vs. Ushiku in July. He started training at American Top Team and then traveled to Thailand. The match was then moved to September, he said, on the same card of a boxing exhibition between Floyd Mayweather and Mikuru Asakura, but will only go down in October.
Koike stated that “I’m ready to war”, despite being delayed, and that “the belt IS ours .”
“He has that champion’s aura now because he’s the champion in two promotions, RIZIN and DEEP, and he’s a guy that worries me because he takes fights to the distance,” Koike said. “He doesn’t take risks. I think he’s a good athlete, well-rounded, but nothing that worries me that much. All the credit for being a champion, but I believe in what I do and I will become champion.
“I want to push the pace and make him miss. When I get him under my arm, I am certain I will catch him. To change the .”
game, I must land with one hand.