Kai Asakura defeated Yuki Motoya by TKO (knee to body, R3, 2:36)
In the joint main event to determine who would face Archuleta for the title, ex Champion Asakura collided with the perenial contender Motoya. Asakura pressured from the get-go, a creative combination got through almost instantly, catching the sides of Motoya’s head. A high lead left kick for Asakura was thrown multiple times but did not land clean. Motoya was covering up well as the round progressed but was at a power and weight deficit. Motoya got close to taking the fight to the mat, moving to the back but being unable to topple Asakura who showed incredible balance. Motoya landed a solid right straight but ate 2 jumping knees that would have put many fighters out.
Motoya covered well as Asakura went high and low with combinations against the ropes. Check left hook and low kicks by Motoya were chipping away, slowly breaking through. A body lock takedown proved a crucial turning point for Motoya, who softened Asakura up with short strikes. Asakura sprung back to his feet and defended a sequence of takedowns with incredible agility. Against the ropes Motoya scooped the legs out for a simpler takedown. After spending much of the round getting controlled Asakura made it back to his feet and landed a thunderous left body shot, right straight that rocked Motoya. Known for his considerable durability and recovery skills Motoya threw back and clinched until the round ended.
In the last round, the comeback staged by Motoya continued as he pressed forward, knowing his deadly adversary was less dangerous backing up. Low kicks, hooks and straights disguised entries to grappling range where Motoya could excel. Riding the back Motoya was fighting at his pace and rhythm. Asakura muscled out and, on separation landed a brutal left knee to the body that visibly hurt Motoya. Pointing to his opponents ribs while smiling Asakura was out for blood. Body punches were blocked but, just as Motoya threw a right hand an explosive left knee blasted the open body. Motoya crumbled instantly, clutching his ribs as Asakura, to his credit, simply walked off knowing his job was done at 2:25 of the very last round. Unable to finish with blows to the head the cerebral sniper found the perfect answer, stopping the notoriously hard to T/KO Motoya in a sensational manner. The crowd went wild as the popular ex Champion set himself up for an not to be missed showdown with Archuleta for the vacant tile!
Juan Archeleta defeated Naoki Inoue by decision (unanimous 3-0)
In the 2nd Bellator vs Rizin match up, both fire off speedy strikes the first round commenced. Archuleta tested the waters in the grappling, shooting in on the legs Inoue lowered his stance, stuffed the attempt, flattened his oponent out and took 1/2 guard. As Archeleta elevated the hips inoue transitioned to mount and then expertly took back mount. Tight choke attempts were defended well by Archeleta who kept his chin down and fought for hand positioning. Near the end of the round Archuleta broke free and threw jabs that were met by straights from Inoue.
As Archuleta darted forward to start the 2nd he ran into crisp boxing from Inoue, who repetitively threw jabs mixed with intermittent straights. Archuleta was throwing in flurries but could not tag Inoue who ducked, dived and dodged and amazing amount of shots. Feeling the pressure from the jabs and right hands, Archeleta looked to change the battleground and take the fight to the mat. Defending the single the Japanese Karate/ grappler circled, grabbed a foot and used the leverage briefly take back and search for a choke. Returning to the feet Inoue played with fire too long, 2 right hands found their timing and sat Inoue down briefly. Evading the follow up barrage Inoue was taken down by a perfectly timed double leg. Archuleta took the back and dropped some hard blows before his adversary unhooked the legs and reversed. It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for Inoue though as he was caught in a tight guillotine. Rolling to his back to ease the pressure he rolled out to escape and turn the tide again. Another momentum shift and Archuleta took control roughing Inoue up in the clinch and on the ground. Archuleta landed some good knees before a final reversal saw Inoue finish in guard.
The intense war continued as Inoue went back to his fundamentals, jabs and straights. This time however the strikes seemed laboured and his opponent took full advantage. After another enthralling scramble Archuleta took back and came close with a rear naked choke. Hoisting Inoue up and dumping him on his back. It would not be long until it was payback again though as Inoue battled out the position, took back and locked in his own tight choke. Archuleta fought tooth and nail to escape what would be his opponents last offense. For the last few minutes Archeleta dominated, taking over as Inoue faded. Securing back mount the Bellator representative returned the favour, threatening with rear naked chokes. As the final bell sounded, a dejected inoue was still on the defence. All the judges sided with the late rally of Archuleta in a fiercely competitive back and forth war.
Roberto “Satoshi” De Souza defeated Spike “The Ginger Alpha” Carlyle by decision (unanimous 3-0)
Carlyle kicked off the round, throwing his feet into Souza’s legs as the fighters maintained distance. Throwing 1 kick too many Souza caught the American’s leg and easily sat him to the ground. As Souza worked to the side Carlyle seized the moment to escape. Both exchanged furiously until Souza tackled the legs for another takedown. Progressing to mount “Satoshi” locked in the triangle choke. Carlyle slipped prompting the submission hunter to seize a straight armbar, that Carlye remarkably also slipped out of. Pulling guard it would not be long until the Brazilian again reversed to take the top where he set up a guillotine choke. Carlyles defense was on point, staying clam the skilled all-rounder held out until the danger alleviated.
The 2nd round commenced with both trading punches until Souza seized a double leg, rotating to dump his foe to the mat. Carlyle was proving neigh impossible to finish as the Brazilin locked a triangle armbar that the American somehow twisted out of. Souza took the top in the scramble, attempting another triangle from mount only to have Carlyle slide his head out and power through to end in guard. The round of what was becoming an intriguing fight ended.
The fighters clinched up in the 3rd and the Souza decided to pull guard and search for the triangle again. “The Ginger Alpha” who should consider changing his nickname to “Houdini” sensed the choke, postured and escaped. Carlyle achieved top for most of the round, briefly taking the back but was not able to let his hands go or threaten with a submission. Ultimately the constant submission attempts of “Satoshi” were more than enough to take home the win. Disappointed that he could not finish his opponent, Souza notched his 1st ever victory by decision!
Kickboxing rule, Rikiyo Anpo and Baukaw Banchamek fought to a draw (Unanimous 30-30, 30-30, 29-29)
With fellow legend and former opponent Masato Kobayashi on the commentary Buakaw stepped into the ring to face K-1 star Anpo. A quick glove touch and both wasted little time in getting down to business. Buakaw low kicks were countered with blitzes from Anpo, who drilled left right punch combinations, capping them off with hooks to the body and head. Jabs, 1-2s and jumping knees from Anpo as he found the mark in the opening round. Working his way back into the match, Buakaw started to find his rythym, timing knees and rear hands that came close to their target. Close range was the Thai Boxers friend as he looked to pull the head down for knees.
Anpo snaked out a stinging jab , measuring the distance as Buakaw lent back. The popular ex K-1 Champion absorbed some ferocious lefts and rights, showing his iron chin still remains intact. From the Thai clinch Buakaw landed big knees to the body as the exchanged straight hands. Anpo brought the volume, throwing full force when his seasoned opponent was open. Buakaw caught kicks and returned with single power shots in a more even round.
The final round between the past and current champion commenced as Anpo reumed attack from lead hand and feet. Buakaw did his best work in the clinch and while his kicks and body blows were largely blocked they were contacting. Beckoning the Thai superstar to trade both fighters threw down in a firefight though neither could put the other down. Fan favorite Buakaw brought his power strikes and iron chin to the table while Anpo was more consistently landing with combinations to the head and body. In a bit of a surprising decision, all 3 judges scored the entertaining fight an unanimous draw.
Ren “YA-MAN” Sugiyama defeated Kota Miura by TKO (knee to ground and pound, R1, 3:13)
Battle of the entrances proceeded as Ya-Man brought an entourage of dancing ladies and Miura a Japanese rapper. Ya-Man started the match toying with Miura who quickly shot for a double leg and was reversed. A tight guillotine choke from Miura tested the MMA ability of the Kickboxer. Breaking free Ya-Man left his lower body exposed to a takedown. Miura was constantly attacking, dumping the Kickboxer on the canvas and seamlessly transitioning to mount. Ya-Man surrendered his back to stand and got caught in a Rear Naked Choke. Breaking free the brawler unloaded with hard kicks. Miura forfeits top position and elected to be on bottom instead of trade on the feet with the feared Street-fighting Kickboxer. From 1/2 guard Ya man stayed mobile. In recovering guard, Miura allowed the striker to back out and reset on the feet. It was the beginning of the end for the youngster. Miura leapt into a flying punch and was battered by a clubbing 1-2 combo that had him switch levels for an easily defended takedown. A pinpoint short left knee and follow up hammering shots had the referee jumping in. Miura displayed his skills and had his opportunities but was perhaps a little nervous or over zealous, failing to secure position. Conversely, Ya-Man brought the intimidation, pressure, and capitalised on the chances. Prevailing in his MMA debut with a TKO stoppage in the opening round Ya-Man called out fellow Kickboxer Ryusei Ashizawa for a dream match up for fans.
John “The Magician” Dodson defeated Tatsuki Saomoto by decision (unanimous 3-0)
A highly anticipated showdown got underway in the newly established and wide open 125 lbs weight class. Dodson stalked early in the opening stanza, surging forward fast with rapid fire, heavy handed combinations. On the back foot Saomoto appeared intent to err on the side of caution and figure out his dangerous opponents timing. A spinning backfist from Saomoto fighter was countered by a left hand by Dodson who carried a significant power advantage. A 1-2 and body shot from The Magician broke through Saomoto’s guard as he found his range. Saomoto earned some respect with right hooks and uppercuts but could not phase Dodson in the opening round.
Shooting out a lead jab, Saomoto got the 2nd Stanza going. A clean left straight from Dodson has his foe reeling again. Both fighters are doing their best work on the counters, Dodson coming over the top of the lead hand with heavy leather and Saomoto landing the rear uppercut and right hand. Dropping Saomoto to his knees Dodson blasted with knees to the head. Wearing the damage well the Japanese fighters covered and endured. Switching stances and circular movement by Saomoto had Dodson frustrated and unable to get a fight ending blow.
The right hand was money for “The Magician” who was catching Saomoto with considerable force. Saomoto could land, swift combinations of uppercuts, straights and punches on the exit, yet could not do the damage needed to dissuade Dodson from attacking. A tight front naked choke from The magician was locked tight, forcing Saomoto to resort to defence and drop to his back. Upon escape the Brave Gym member attempted to rally, throwing caution to the wind but it was too little too late. Awarded the victory by all 3 judges Dodson picked up his 2nd Rizin win at 125lbs and is surely poised to make a title run.
Kazumasa Majima defeated Takahiro Ashida by technical submission (shoulder choke, R1, 4:43)
Elite grappler Majima wasted little time in taking the match to the grounds as soon as the match kicked off. Ashida was struggling to maintain guard and stop his foe from passing. Keeping a high guard Ashida did well to minimize damage as referee called for action. Solid elbow from the strong grappler as he smoothly passed to 1/2 guard once again. Attaining mount Majima relentlessly worked for a head and arm choke, coming close on numerous occasions yet Ashida kept his arm correctly positioned as they played a game of inches. Ashida made one mistake, putting his arms around the head for a guillotine and that was all that was all it took. Majima swiftly went to knee on belly, applied pressure and Ashida was sleeping in seconds. The winner, by Von Flue/ Shoulder Choke, a huge statement by Majima who gets one step closer to a rematch with the Champion, Kleber Koike.
Ulka Sasaki defeated Boyd “Sneaky” Allen by decision (unanimous 3-0)
Sasaki weaving side to side made his intentions clear early in the opening round as the adept grappler quickly worked his way in on a single-leg. As they hit the mat Allen scrambled but Sasaki rolled-over and slickly landed on top. Not ready to accept the position, Allen continued to scramble, cinching up Sasaki’s leg. Both ended up in the 50/50 position from which Allen attacked with a heel-hook while Sasaki postured up to put weight on the leg and counter. Sasaki displayed hit top level technique again, eventually working to side-control and transitioning to mount. With 10 submissions to his record, Allen is not a walk in the park on the mat. Displaying great dexterity he threw up his legs, trapping Sasaki in a reverse triangle. Sasaki read the situation perfectly, shifted to the side and Allen no longer had the angle to finish the hold. As Sasaki broke free they scrambled once more. Allen managed to get to Sasaki’s back but not for long as the ground fighting specialist slipped out and fired down punches on his opponent. Sasaki shortly after was back in the South African’s guard, standing up he finished the round throwing long punches down on Allen as well as soccer kicks and a stomp as the bell sounded.
Knowing where his chances are best, Sasaki worked in for the takedown and they were back on the ground. Allen never gave up with the scrambles and again targeted the Rizin veteran’s leg. Again Sasaki achieved top position with side-control. From there he threatened first with a straight armbar and then transitioned to an Americana. Unable to get the leverage and torque to get the tap, he instead settled for mount. Allen tried to maneuver free but Sasaki managed to stay on top hammering down punches before transitioning to the side. As Allen rolled to escape Sasaki attempted to set up an Anaconda/ Spinning Choke before bailing on the technique when he could not roll his opponent.
History repeated itself as the fight immediately went back on the ground with Sasaki on top, first in side-control and then switching to half guard. Sasaki went hard for the Anaconda set-up but failed to achieve the roll required to cut off the blood to the head. The game Allen regained guard and even managed to sweep as Sasaki went for the third Anaconda choke. Unable to mount offence, eventually, the referee separated them and returned the combatants to their feet. In a last ditch attempt Allen threw a few knees from the clinch that just missed before the match is over. It was a workmanlike performance from Sasaki, who desperately needed to get himself back into the win column.
Viktor Kolesnik defeated Atsushi Kishimoto by TKO (standing kicks, R2, 2:57)
Kishimoto struck first as a solid left hand caught Kolesnik soon after the opening bell sounded. Venturing forth with a kicking based approach, the Russian changed stances as he threw thudding leg-kicks from both sides. Kishimoto was kept guessing as to where the next kick would come from. Kishimoto out of the southpaw stance had faith in his left hooks and right straights. Enduring the leg kicks to return fire with hands paid off as a left hook from Kishimoto put Kolesnik on rubbery legs. The Japanese banger followed up, searching for the killer blow but Kolesnik showed his experience, shooting and getting the fight to the mat. From there Kolesnink expertly fought his way to the back of Kishimoto and threatened with a rear naked choke. Kishimoto was resilient, clawing his way get back to his feet. Kolesnik, now with better timing, hit home a clean left counter and a left high kick glanced the top of Kishimoto’s head! Unfazed Kishimoto traded punches with the fellow striker until the round came to a close.
Kolesnik’s investment in the long run strategy paid back dividends. His thunderous leg kicks quickly seemed to take their toll on Kishimoto, who had not checked a single kick. Kolesnik was acutely aware of Kishimoto gingerly stepping on this right leg and switching stances. Turning up the intensity Kolesnik zoned in on the legs as Kishimoto, with both legs taking a beating, switched back to southpaw. The writing was on the wall for Kishimoto as one more strong calf-kick from Kolsenik crumpled him to the canvas. The referee took a look at the Japanese warrior and and called of the fight off at 2:57 of the second round. A superb display of kicking skills by the Rizin newcomer.
Erson Yamamoto defeated Yuki Ito by decision (unanimous 3-0)
The match got underway with a short exchange on the feet and following a big swing from Erson, Ito took his back, though he easily got shrugged off. Erson then shifted to his wrestling roots and immediately secured the first takedown of the match. He was unable to keep Ito on the ground but as they stood up Erson maintained his grip around the waist of Ito, shifting down to the hips as needed to score another takedown. They repeated the process of Erson dragging Ito down and Ito standing right back up. Ito then jumped for a guillotine but the Krazy Bee grappler immediately stepped over to the far side, out of danger. Ito again switched his hips and used an underhook to stand back up against the ropes but still could not shake Erson off of him. The round ends with Erson stuck to Ito like glue against the ropes. The crowd was really behind Erson with big roars at every takedown.
Ito stepped out for the 2nds round more loose, connection a good punch on Erson as he tried to engage in wrestling. Ito came close to taking Ersons head off with an uppercut, but missed. Erson eventually closed the distance and bullied Ito to the ropes. As Ito scrambled Erson locked up a front naked choke, forcing Ito to roll to his back to alleviate the strain. From there he fished for an armbar and used the ensuing scramble to get back to his feet. Erson was hot on his tails, Ito attacked with a second guillotine attempt but could not get it . Erson now struggling more than before to get the takedown against the ropes. After a low blow on Erson the referee broke and put them back in the clinch where Erson completed another takedown. A teepee-choke attempt from Ito, it appeared fairly tight, but Erson slipped out and ended the round on top raining down strikes.
Ito again came out the corner swinging, tagging Erson with a left, but Erson ate it and found himself in range to clinch and wrestle his foe the ground. Ito sprung back to his feet but was immediately dragged back down again, and then process repeated itself! In a battle of wills Erson was struggling to establish position on the ground while Ito was unable to disengage from the clinch. A poor decision to go for another guillotine that was not there had Ito again clamoring to work himself back up to the feet. Erson sustained the pressure in the clinch but with 40 seconds the referee broke them. Ito swung for the fences as Erson threw a flying knee that he converted into another takedown. With 15 seconds left they grappled until the bell rung and the fight was over. The unanimous and well deserved decision went to Erson.
Takeji Yokoyama defeated Takuya Yamamoto by submission (juji-gatame armbar, R1, 1:24)
Yokoyama searched for the clinch from the onset, getting a grip on Yamamoto he immediately jumped guard. Switching up his hips to the right side of Yamamoto, he briefly threatened with a triangle. The powerhouse Yamamoto shut the attack down but Yokoyama, underhooking his adversaries left leg, expertly shifts over to control the head. Yamamoto tried to posture and power out but the slick BJJ specialist swung his hips fully over the head to lock in the armbar. A last ditch effort from Yamamoto as he rolled and tried to throw both his legs over his opponents body to relieve the pressure. Yokoyama is one step ahead though, going face down he remained partly on his side to block the legs, and Yamamoto’s escape. The tap came at 1:24 of the first round
Ramazan Temurov defeated Yuta “Cat” Hamamoto by TKO (ground and pound, R1, 4:06)
There is no feeling out process as both guys come out fast. Temirov swung wildly, going as far as to throw himself off balance. Hamamoto while on his back-foot still plants and throws with intent in his punches. “Cat” wanted to stay in range and use his karate stance and movement to dart in and out with heavy shots. Temirov looked to keep up the pressure and get in range for his heavy hooks. Temirov really sustained a high pace edging closer and closer with his left and right hooks while going to the body with spinning back kicks. They met in the middle of the cage and Temirov slipped the right from Hamamoto, countering with his own punches. Hamamoto was grazed on the forehead as he lent back, causing him to stumble and fall. Quickly back to his feet, Hamamoto was more off-balance than hurt by the punch. They immediately renewed trading blows. Temirov landed a hook to the body, as “Cat” slips Temirov countered with a right hook that just missed, but the left that followed connected flush dropping Hamamoto for real this time. As Hamamoto got up to his feet Temirov launched another punch and Hamamoto tasted the canvas one again. Temirov pounced and lands a few more shots on a defenseless Hamamoto before the ref stepped in to call the fight at 4:06 of the first round.
Kickboxing rule, Sota “Cerebrus” Kimura defeated Yasuhiro Kido by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-28, 30-28)
Rizin 42 kicked off fittingly with a Kickboxing bout between 2 fighters generation apart. “Cerebrus” pressured during the opening round however it was Kido getting off first with straight punches and then sliding out of danger. A few leg-kicks from Kimura who wanted to set up punches but kept coming up short. The elusive Kido blasted his signature left high kick and spinning back fists. Side and roundhouse Kicks from the Kido to legs and head were punctuated by a spinning backfist that grazed the head. Kimura did not back down and threw lead uppercuts and straight right hands. Both fighters got a read on each other as action heated up before the round concluded.
Cerberus pressures Kido, and starting to also find his range with his hands, landing jabs and straight right counters to the kicks. Kido was on the move, switching stances and going straight left for straight right with his tenacious opponent. “Cerebrus”, methodical with the forward pressure, was pressing Kido to the corners, searching for openings. Kido needed range to get his kicks going and Kimura was wise to take it away. As the round came to a close Kido accidentally landed a low uppercut right on the cup of Kimura, who took some time to recover.
A similar story played out in the 3rd with Cerberus continuing to stalk and initiate while Kido sought the counter. Kido circled and started the round with a nice left high kick that, though blocked, carried a lot of starch. Cerberus continued to have success in trapping Kido in the corners in the round with Kido going for spinning backfist to keep his opponent honest and avoid prolonged engagement. Kido blasted left high kicks at will, they both acted as a counter to the pressure and helped maintain distance. It was almost exclusively left sided attacks as Kido weaved 1 shot power blows through Kimura’s defense. As the tide turned towards Kido in a close bout, “Cerebrus” countered the kicker. A right right hook on an off balance Kido sent him reeling and, as his glove grazed the mat the referee declared it a knockdown sealing the deal for Kimura seconds before the fight came to an end. To Kido’s dismay, the knockdown cost him the round and the fight with all 3 judges rendering a 30-28 decision in favor of Kimura.
*Stefan Nilsson contributed to photography and text of this article