Buakaw Banchamek Against Minoru Kimura Announced for RIZIN Landmark 9 on March 23

Mar 18, 2024
Buakaw victorious. Photo: Allstar Fight
The Thai kickboxing legend makes his return to Japan.

A surprisingly major last-minute addition has made its way to this weekend's RIZIN Landmark 9 card – Buakaw will make his return to the ring against Brazilian heavy-hitter Minoru Kimura.


After Kimura infamously tested for steroids the last time he competed for the promotion in June of last year, the 30-year-old had to sit out a 6-month suspension. He was then scheduled to compete against Rukiya Anpo at RIZIN's New Year's Eve event, but once again failed to comply with the necessary anti-doping measures, citing trace amounts remaining in his system.

With enough time passed, Kimura believes to be in the clear to compete again after having consulted with several doctors. Additionally, the promotion went ahead and drug tested the athlete on February 7, and has received back negative results. Another test will be conducted right before the fight.

RIZIN CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara made clear that this is Kimura's last chance, threatening a lifetime ban from RIZIN should he test positive again.

Rukiya Anpo against Buakaw. Photo: RIZIN FF

Nonetheless, Kimura hopes that the strict doping regulations aren't only applied to him:

"I'm not in a position to say it. But if you look at how his body has changed, I think Buakaw is the one doping. I hope there will be thorough drug testing. I will deliver better result than Anpo, and knock him out."

Buakaw last competed in RIZIN in May 2023, where he fought former K-1 champion Rukiya Anpo to a draw. After a string of no contests in Thailand and China, he rebounded with a dominant win against Nayanesh Ayman and now looks to continue his momentum in another marquee match-up.