Kai Asakura Shocks Kyoji Horiguchi with 68-Second Knockout in Rizin 18 Headliner

By Tristen Critchfield Aug 18, 2019

No title was on the line in the Rizin Fighting Federation 18 main event, but don’t tell that to Kai Asakura.

The 25-year-old Japanese prospect pulled off one of the biggest upsets thus far in 2019, knocking out bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi in 68 seconds on Sunday at Dolphins Arena in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Asakura buckled his foe with a counter right hand during an early exchange and then had Horiguchi reeling after landing a knee to the midsection. From there, Asakura landed several more right hands before the contest was halted.

Horiguchi (28-3), who holds the 135-pound belt in both Rizin and Bellator MMA, had a 13-fight winning streak snapped, losing for the first time since dropping a unanimous verdict to Demetrious Johnson in a flyweight title affair at UFC 186 in April 2015. The victory could set Asakura (13-1) up for a title shot against Horiguchi down the road.

In the co-main event, female pound-for-pound talent Ayaka Hamasaki survived some precarious positions and rallied to submit Suwanan Boonsorn in an atomweight clash. The end came 3:20 into the opening stanza, as the reigning champion tapped Boonsorn with an armbar.

Boonsorn (3-2) had her moments in her Rizin debut, taking Hamasaki’s back and mounting her opponent earlier in the round. However, once Hamasaki was able to lock in the armbar, the Thai fighter had no choice but to tap out. Hamasaki (19-2) has now won five consecutive bouts.

In other action, Victory Henry submitted Trent Girdham (9-3) with a reverse triangle in a featured bantamweight tilt. The end cam at the 2:14 mark of Round 3. A protégé of former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, Henry (19-4) has won seven consecutive fights.

Meanwhile, Manel Kape (14-4) scored the biggest victory of his career to date, knocking out UFC veteran Takeya Mizugaki at the 1:36 mark of Round 2 in their bantamweight crap. Kape cracked Mizugaki with a right uppercut before stepping off at an angle and dropping his foe with a right hook to the chin. Once Mizugaki (23-14-2) hit the canvas, referee Minoru Toyonaga immediately stepped in to wave off the bout, giving Kape his second-consecutive finish under the Rizin banner.

Atomweight grand prix winner Kanna Asakura rebounded from an upset loss to Miyuu Yamamoto in June, as she captured a hard-earned split verdict against Invicta FC prospect Alesha Zappitella (5-2). Asakura (15-4) relied on her crisp boxing to carry her to victory.

Earlier: A 117-pound clash between Jarred Brooks and Haruo Ochi was ruled a no contest after 11 seconds due to an accidental clash of heads; Hiroto Uesako stopped Yves Landu via technical knockout 3:45 into Round 2 at lightweight; Justin Scoggins outpointed Kazuma Sone in a bantamweight matchup; Takaki Soya stopped Yutaro Muramoto with punches at the 1:28 mark of Round 2 at 130 pounds and Ai Shimizu took a unanimous decision against Tabatha Ann Watkins at atomweight.


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