Kyoji Horiguchi’s performances over Rizin Fighting Federation’s final two shows of 2017 underlined why a lot of people felt the UFC should have kept the Japanese star on its roster.
Horiguchi claimed the bantamweight tournament championship on Sunday at Saitama Arena, Japan, following two stoppage wins over Shintaro Ishiwatari and Manel Kape.
The main event saw Horiguchi score a crisp one-punch knockout over Ishiwatari in Round 2 to cap off an impressive Grand Prix run. Horiguchi came close to stopping the grounded Pancrase champion in the first round as he poured on strikes through the ropes, but Ishiwatari managed to stay in the contest.
Ahead of the tournament, Ishiwara stated that he wanted vengeance for his previous loss to Horiguchi back in 2013. The fifth-round knockout won Horiguchi his call-up to the UFC.
In the first fight of the night, the American Top Team fighter booked his place in the final with a third-round submission win of Kape. The quarterfinals of the tournament took place on Friday at Rizin FF 8, where Horiguchi advanced to the semis with another stunning boxing display that resulted in a first-round knockout over Gabriel Oliveira.
In the co-main event, wrestling standout Kanna Asakura pulled off a massive upset victory, winning the super atomweight tournament final with a first-round submission against heavily favored Rena Kubota.
Asakura took Rena down early, highlighting a hole in the previously undefeated starlet’s game. The next time Asakura forced the action to the canvas, she jumped on a rear-naked choke that put Rena to sleep with thirty seconds left in the opening round.
Earlier in the night, Asakura submitted Maria Oliveira with a second-round armbar, which saw her advance to the final against Rena.
Tenshin Nasukawa was one of the great stories of the night, winning the Rizin Kick One Night Tournament with two knee knockouts over flyweight opponents, Yamato Fujita and Yuta Hamamoto.
The 19-year-old prospect knocked Fujita down three times in the tournament final, which prompted the referee to step in and stop the action after Fujita fell for a final time from a flush knee.
Tenshin blasted his way into the final with a devastating flying knee knockout in the second round of his semi-final bout against Hamamoto.
Mirko Cro Cop destroyed Japanese legend Tsuyoshi Kosaka in the first round of their heavyweight clash. “TK” caught Cro Cop early, but he reacted well and forced the 47-year-old up against the ropes and landed four unanswered right hooks. Kosaka fell to the ground where the Croatian continued to land punches until Kosaka’s corner threw in the towel.
Yachi wobbled Gomi two times in the opening exchanges, connecting with knees in the clinch and landing heavy punches. Gomi managed to force the action to the ground, but was quickly tied up in triangle choke.
Speaking after the fight, the Japanese legend claimed that he still wants to fight despite his recent lack of success.
Also in action on the night, Shinju Nozawa-Auclair overcame the early submission attempts of Chelsea LaGrasse before she found an armbar that stopped the fight in the first round. With the win, “Juju” moves to 2-0 as a pro.
Click here for full results.
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