RIZIN Bantamweight Championship
Kyoji Horiguchi defeated Kai Asakura (TKO, punches, 2:50 round 1)
Stepping into to the ring for the first time since his shocking 68 second loss to Asakura, Horiguchi was also returning on the heels of a 15 month layoff due to ACL surgery. Determined to show that his conditioning and form were top notch and that history would not repeat itself, the Karate stylist fought strategic and composed. Asakura reveled in the chance to prove that first fight was not luck and sought to counter the forward rushes of the speedy Horiguchi. With Asakura carrying the weight of expectations on his shoulders after their first match, and with little to no idea as to Horiguchi’s gameplan, the match played out very differently.
Horiguchi attacked the legs early, minimizing chances of a counter and taking advantage of the heavy lead leg stance Asakura employs for counters. Patient and level-headed, Horiguchi was not giving away any countering opportunities to his nemesis. A low calf kicks counter off an right hand carried full bodyweight and rotation, buckling the legs of Asakura. With his opponent limping on one foot, Horiguchi smelled blood and started to go high. Landing 2 monstrous right hands off a jumping knee, Asakura crumpled to the canvas, some follow up punches on the ground and the referee had seen enough. A scintillating performance from Horiguchi brought the belt full circle back around his waist.
Tenshin Nasukawa defeated Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit (Unanimous De, 30-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Forever in pursuit of the finish, Nasukawa followed his evade/ block and counter strategy, searching for power shots right off the bat. Phetjaroenvit was content to mostly use kicks in the opening stanza, firing heavy to the legs and body. In comparison, Nasukawa brought volume, variation and his signature power, as Phetjaroenvit kicked he was met with blistering combinations followed by Kicks. A jumping head kick landed for Nasukawa as the Thai threw him to the mat. Left straights and left high kicks from the Japanese superstar hurt his opponent in the 1st but the Thai Boxer was not overwhelmed. To his credit, the kicks landed by Phetjaroenvit were hefty and effective even when blocked.
Slightly stiff in the first round, the undefeated Kickboxer settled and found his rhythm in the 2nd. Exploiting the Thai Boxers kick heavy game, Nasukawa countered a kick with a right hand that put Phetjaroenvit on rubbery legs. A follow up straight sent the Thai to the canvas, however, as it was partially blocked it was not ruled a knockdown. With the damage visible, the Target gym phenom turned up the heat, blasting left straights to the head and body of Phetjaroenvit. As the round ended, the Karate based Kickboxer was on autopilot and in the driving seat.
In the final round it was all Nasukawa as he fed the Phetjaroenvit a steady diet of left hands. Maneuvering his opponent into the corner, Nasukawa rattled off lightning fast combinations of loaded hooks, straights and uppercuts. Durable and extremely experienced, the top ranked Thai Boxer would not go down. Desperately swinging for the fences, Phetjaroenvit was game but falling short. There was no doubt as to the victor as the final bell sounded as Nasukawa added another tally to his win record in a dominant performance. After taking apart another elite striker, Nasukawa once again reminded the Kickboxing world he is a step ahead of the competition.
Mikuru Asakura defeated Satoshi “Dominator” Yamasu (TKO, left head kick and punches, Round 1, 4:20)
As the first round kicked off, both combatants tested the waters and started the feeling put process. “Dominator” kept Asakura guessing, mixing up attacks and using feints to land heavy inside leg kicks. Asakura landed brief takedown but chose not to engage. Both threw with ill intent as on the feet as the strategist Asakura began to find the counter left hands and body kicks. An accidental headbutt and “Dominator” appeared to get the worst of it, taking the top of Asakura’s head above his eye. Opting not to take a time out will come back to haunt Yamasu as, moments later, Asakura solved the puzzle and saw the opening. A front kick to the body brought the defense down, a right straight to the body was a decoy for a thunderous left hand that dazed Yamasu. The follow up left high kick landed flush with the shin, dropping Yamasu to his knees. Asakura follows up with a massive punch but the fight was already over. The referee rushed in as fast as he could saving the prone fighter. Asakura returns to the win column and gets back to form, scoring another sensational KO.
Special Rules Bout
Takanori Gomi defeated Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka (majority decision, 30-29, 29-29, 29-28)
With strikes limited to punching and spinning back fists, the firefight promised lived up to expectations and then some. In the first round Kouzi was wary of the power of the MMA legend. Circling the ring the Kickboxer frustrated the MMA legend who semi-jokingly fired a shot to his grounded opponent. Once the action heated up “Kouzi” was taking Gomi’s best and paying him back in a back and forth war.
Both planted their feet and traded exactly where they left off as the 2nd round commenced. Gomi landed jabs, looping baseball punches and short hooks with absolutely no regard for defense. Going to the body and head, shot after shot Gomi landed pummeled his lighter adversary. Kouzi showed the chin and heart that he is known for and absorbed the damage. The faster fighter he capitalized as Gomi started to tire, throwing out his own straights and hooks with accuracy.
In a wild final round the intensity peaked. As neither took a backwards step, Gomi called “Kouzi” on and the Kickboxer obliged. For the final 3 minutes both fighters gave left it all in the ring, brawling in the pocket. Both known for power and durability, they clubbed each other with copious amounts of punches as the battle swayed back and forth. Tanaka kept his gloves up at key moments, which took some of the firepower from Gomi’s punches. Whipping his jab and digging shots to the body and head, the Fireball Kid threw everything he had. Tanaka was sharper and more refined and matched the activity of his foe, his chin holding up until the final bell. Handicapped by bigger gloves due to the weight advantage, Gomi could not get the KO he desired but took the decision. After 3 explosive rounds of fireworks both warriors showed each other mutual admiration and respect.
RIZIN Super Atomweight Championship
Ayaka Hamasaki defeated Miyuu “Fighting Queen Bee” Yamamoto (Leg-Scissor Choke, Round 1, 1:42)
Hamasaki started the round as the aggressor, her forward motion urging Yamamoto into initiating. The “Fighting Queen Bee” showed her much improved stand up game, landing straights to the body and head. A perfectly executed single leg proved a big mistake for the elite wrestler as she fell into Hamasaki’s trap. Baiting Yamamoto into the clinch the AACC standout latched a Kimura grip and proceeded to flow between techniques. Reversing the Krazy Bee representative, Hamasaki worked the Kimura from top before locking up an old school leg scissor choke. As the submission specialists legs and knees constricted the breathing Yamamoto succumbed and tapped. Utilizing her world class submission arsenal, Hamasaki was once again crowned the woman’s Super Atomweight World Champion.