RIZIN bantamweight champion Kai Asakura made short work of another opponent in the Japanese ring in 2020. The 26-year-old star was featured in the top MMA bout at Sunday’s RIZIN 24 show in Saitama and needed just one round to get past Shoji Maruyama in brutal fashion in a non-title affair.
Asakura opened up with a good head kick and proceed to pick Maruyama apart with punches until a solid one-two combo dropped him on his butt. Asakura wasted no time, landing a soccer kick that landed flush and forcing the referee to save the 37-year-old veteran from more punishment.
It's the second straight soccer kick knockout for Asakura in 2020, as he stopped Hiromasa Ougikubo in August to claim the vacant bantamweight belt. Asakura, who holds wins over the likes of Manel Kape, Kyoji Horiguchi and Ulka Sasaki, now holds an impressive 8-1 record in RIZIN.
The card was headlined by a kickboxing match featuring undefeated 22-year-old Japanese sensation Tenshin Nasukawa versus a durable Koji Tanaka.
Nasukawa gave him all he’s got for nine minutes, connecting with lightning-fast hand combinations, kicks to the head and body, flying knees and other creative spinning strikes that opened a cut over his opponent’s left eye, but Tanaka simply refused to go down. In the end, Nasukawa improved to 36-0 as a kickboxer via unanimous decision.
In the second-to-last MMA bout of the night, DEEP lightweight champion Koji Takeda traded hands in a back-and-forth striking battle with Shooto lightweight titleholder Yuki Kawana for three entertaining rounds. In the end, a close split decision had Takeda scoring his first victory under the RIZIN banner and improving to 11-1 in the sport.
The only female fight of the night had popular Japanese star Rena Kubota taking on former DEEP Jewels atomweight titleholder Emi Tomimatsu in a strawweight contest. Kubota, the more experienced striker, dominated the action on the feet in the opening round but had to work hard when Tomimatsu got the mount position in the second stanza.
Aside from a takedown and a brief kimura attempt in the final third of the contest, Kubota kept the pressure on the feet to guarantee a unanimous decision victory. Kubota has now won four straight for RIZIN over the last 19 months, which includes avenging a Bellator loss she suffered to Lindsey VanZandt.
One of the few finishes of the night came in a featherweight contest early in the card, where former DEEP 145-pound titleholder Kyohei Hagiwara squeezed Takahiro Ashida in a triangle choke while twisting his arm with a kimura. Hagiwara is now riding a three-fight winning streak, boosting his MMA record to 24-10-2.
The other stoppage in the decision-heavy card took place in a heavyweight clash between MMA newcomers in which Sudario Tsuyoshi, a former sumo wrestler, broke professional wrestler Dylan James’ nose in the opening round, forcing the doctor to stop the bout before the second stanza.
Check the complete results of the MMA portion of RIZIN 24 below.
Kai Asakura def. Shoji Maruyama via TKO - Round 1
Koji Takeda def. Yuki Kawana via split decision
Takasuke Kume def. Satoru Kitaoka via split decision
Kenta Takizawa def. Yuto Hokamura via split decision
Rena Kubota def. Emi Tomimatsu via unanimous decision
Kyohei Hagiwara def. Takahiro Ashida via submission (triangle choke, kimura) – Round 1
Sudario Tsuyoshi def. Dylan James via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 1
Juri Ohara def. Yusuke Yachi via split decision