Jiri Prochazka Stops ‘King Mo,’ Claims LHW Crown; Horiguchi Wins 12th Straight at Rizin 15

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 21, 2019

For Jiri Prochazka, revenge was as good as gold at Rizin 15.

Prochazka became Rizin’s inaugural light heavyweight champion as he defeated Muhammed Lawal via third-round technical knockout in Sunday’s headliner at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. Prochazka overwhelmed a fading “King Mo” with a flurry of punches at the 3:02 mark of the final frame. Prochazka (24-3-1) avenged a first-round knockout loss to Lawal (21-9) in the finals of Rizin’s heavyweight grand prix in December 2015.

Lawal traded punches with Prochazka for much of the first two rounds, and his steady diet of right hands opened a cut over his opponent’s left eye in the second period. However, the former Strikeforce champion was unable to take Prochazka to the canvas in the latter stages of the bout, which seemed to affect his gas tank. As the third round progressed, Prochazka’s striking volume increased and he gradually overwhelmed a fatigued Lawal before sending him crashing to the canvas to earn the stoppage.

The 26-year Czech has won eight straight bouts since that defeat and has finished 21 of his career triumphs via KO or TKO. Lawal, meanwhile, has last three in a row – all by technical knockout.

Elsewhere, former UFC title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi extended his winning streak to 12 with a quick finish of fellow Octagon veteran Ben Nguyen in a 132-pound catchweight contest. The end came 2:53 into the opening stanza, as Horiguchi overwhelmed his foe with punches in the corner. ‘

Nguyen started well, taking Horiguchi’s back in the opening moments of the bout. However, once the American Top Team representative was able to escape the position, he took control on the feet. Horiguchi found success landing clean straight combinations on his foe, and he floored Nguyen (16-9) twice before referee Jason Herzog stepped in to halt the bout.

Horiguchi (27-2) is now 9-0 in the Japanese promotion after parting ways with the UFC. After his victory, Rizin President Nobuyuki Sakakibara entered the ring to announce plans to book a rematch between Horiguchi and Bellator bantamweight king Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222 in New York on June 14. Horiguchi submitted Caldwell to claim Rizin’s inaugural 135-pound total at Rizin 14 on Dec. 31.

In the evening’s official co-main event, Tenshin Nasukawa defeated Fritz Biagtan by third-round technical knockout in a kickboxing match to run his career mark to 30-0.

Nasukawa finished off his adversary after dropping Biagtan twice with combinations of knees and punches. Biagtan, a muay Thai specialist from the Philippines, had boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in attendance at ringside to support him.

Earlier, Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Roberto de Souza went past the opening round for the first time in his career, as he stopped 70-fight veteran Satoru Kitaoka by technical knockout at the 3:56 mark of round two in a lightweight affair.

Both men had their moments in grappling exchanges. Kitaoka (42-19-9) was able to pass his opponent’s guard repeatedly after takedowns, while de Souza threatened with a rear-naked choke and an armbar. However, Souza (8-0) had the final say on the feet, as he buckled his foe with a punching combination and then followed him to the floor before the contest was waved off.

In other action: Karl Albrektsson earned a unanimous verdict over Christiano Frohlich at light heavyweight; Rena Kubota (8-2) outpointed Samantha Jean-Francois (3-6) in a 112-pound catchweight clash; Mikuru Asakura (10-1) took a unanimous decision over Luiz Gustavo Felix dos Santos (9-1) at 150 pounds; Kana Watanabe (7-0) earned a decision win against Justyna Zofia Haba (1-1) at flyweight; Damien Brown (19-12) got the scorecards against Koji Takeda (8-1) at lightweight; Manel Kape (13-4) stopped Seiichiro Ito (12-3-2) with a body punch at the 2:59 mark of round two at 128 pounds and Kanako Murato (9-1) used a Von Flue choke to render Saray Orozco Rodriguez (4-3) unconscious 2:12 into round two of their flyweight encounter.


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