Juntaro Ushiku Stops Yutaka Saito, Claims Featherweight Crown in Rizin 31 Main Event

By Tristen Critchfield Oct 24, 2021

Deep champion Juntaro Ushiku now has another piece of championship hardware to add to his trophy case.

Ushiku defeated Yutaka Saito via technical knockout in the Rizin Fighting Federation 31 headliner to capture the promotion’s featherweight crown on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan. A flying knee from Ushiku opened a gash on Saito’s head and forced doctors to call the contest at the 4:26 mark of Round 2.

Ushiku has won eight of his last nine professional appearances dating back to November 2018, while Saito sees a four-bout winning streak snapped in defeat.

In the co-main event, Saori Oshima captured a split-decision triumph against former atomweight grand prix winner Kanna Asakura. It was a successful promotional debut for Oshima, who was coming off a grand prix victory of her own with the Deep Jewels organization this past June. Asakura has dropped two straight fights in Rizin.

Elsewhere, Tsuyoshi Sudario knocked out Lawdlain Saint-Ilme 1:51 into the opening stanza of their featured heavyweight clash. A left hook from the sumo wrestler sent Saint-Ilme crashing face first into the canvas, effectively ending the contest there. Sudario has finished all four of his professional victories inside of a round.

Meanwhile, Japanese veteran Masanori Kanehara dropped Takahiro Ashida with a short right hand and finished his adversary off with punches and elbows at the 1:18 mark of Round 2.

In other action: Akira Okada submitted Daichi Abe with a north-south choke 4:34 into Round 2 at lightweight; Daisuke Nakamura used a flying armbar to tap Suguru Nii 2:16 into the opening stanza of their featherweight bout; Rikuto Shirakawa utilized a soccer kick to KO Takuya Yamamoto at featherweight; Yuki Ito stopped Yusaku Nakamura via TKO at the 4:52 mark of Round 1 at flyweight and Seiichiro Ito submitted Kunta Hashimoto with a rear-naked choke 4:07 into the second round of a flyweight tilt.

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