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RIZIN 29 features a one night, four man kickboxing tournament. The Grand Prix will feature four of Japan’s hottest kickboxers in a battle of will and grit. In that tournament, Taiju Shiratori takes on Ryo Takahasi. But the matchup fans are intrigued by is a potential finals showdown between Shiratori and Koji. The two have gone back and forth and have really built the potential fight that has RIZIN and kickboxing fans excited.

Taiju Shiratori has been a fan of kickboxing for years. Seeing the old K-1 MAX on TV as a kid had him dreaming of one day being in that ring himself.

“I was watching the K-1 MAX series on television when I was a kid and I dreamt about fighting on such a ring since.”

Fighting is such an intense sport. One must concentrate on more calm endeavors in their downtime. Shiratori does just that when he’s not training. He says, “I like to go out and drive out to the country side, hit the hot springs and go fishing.” When I asked Shiratori who would win in a fish-off, him or Conor McGregor, Shiratori said, “I just started recently so Conor would beat me badly,” with a laugh.

Taiju Shiratori, Koji, and RIZIN 29

As mentioned, the RIZIN kickboxing Grand Prix is very anticipated and many think it will be Shiratori and Koji in the finals. The two have had words back and forth and it hasn’t been nice. But, with what got Shiratori into kickboxing, fighting a former K-1 athlete.

“Originally I thought it would  be interesting to fight a guy who just came over from K-1.”

Koji Takeda is very popular, especially in Japan. Shiratori accused the kickboxing star of ducking him. When asked about the statement, Taiju Shiratori says that he believes Koji doesn’t want to risk his popularity. “He doesn’t want to lose against a guy with a lesser name.”

Shiratori hasn’t been the only one lobbing insults. Koji Takeda says that Shiratori is nothing but a pretty face and that he shouldn’t be fighting. Shiratori isn’t phased by that. He is quick to fire right back to the fan favorite kickboxer.

“I don’t really let his talk get to me. I will put him under my wing after I beat him. Maybe he can carry my bags around.”

A win at RIZIN 29 would mean a lot of Shiratori. He says that his hope is for RIZIN to put more emphasis on kickboxing and if he wins and impresses, he can pave the way for that to happen, paving the way for more kickboxing on RIZIN events.

“I want RIZIN to put more emphasis on kickboxing, so I  feel obligated to win this tournament, and win it with style.”

Of course, Shiratori has to get through Ryo Takahashi. But he’s not worried that he won’t win the first fight on the night. He is taking his opponent very serious and preparing for a long night.

“I have no concerns at all. Of course I’m not going to take him lightly and I will give everything I’ve got and dominate him.”

Taiju Shiratori and Tenshin Nasukawa

Shiratori trains at Teppen gym, which is the home to the kickboxing phenom, Tenshin Nasukawa. Koji, of course, fell to Tenshin at RIZIN 24. Much has been made of Shiratori training there and how a win over Shiratori would be a redemption for Koji. But, Nasukawa, as great as he is, has limited time in kickboxing, recently announcing his move to boxing. When asked about his teammate moving to a new sport, Shiratori says Tenshin Nasukawa is chasing challenges and believes it’s boxing that will provide him with that.

“He’s nothing but inspiring. He keeps challenging and won’t stop. I know there are straight killers out there in the boxing world rankings, so it won’t be easy, but I know he will be successful.”

Taiju Shiratori takes on Ryo Takahashi at RIZIN 29 and hopes to take home his second win in a RIZIN one night kickboxing tournament. The event is sold out and will stream live to fans worldwide on LiveNow. Don’t miss the incredible night of kickboxing and MMA that RIZIN consistently delivers!