Satoru Kitaoka Outlasts Tatsuya Kawajiri at Rizin Heisei’s Last Yarennoka

By Brendan Tindall Dec 30, 2018

As the Heisei period nears its end in Japan, Rizin Fighting Federation’s Heisei’s Last Yarrenoka — which serves as something of a prelim to Rizin 14 — featured a mix of new and old talent at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

In the card’s main event, 69-fight MMA veteran Satoru Kitaoka battled it out in a match of Japanese legends against former Shooto Champion and UFC competitor Tatsuya Kawajiri at lightweight. In a fairly slow match, Kitaoka — whose career dates back to 2000 and includes wins over Carlos Condit, Paul Daley and Takanori Gomi — was able to drop Kawajiri in the first with a left straight and followed up with knees to the head until the end of the round.

In the second round, Kitaoka landed a takedown but was unable to mount any solid offense. With Kawajiri seemingly behind on the cards going into the third round, “Crusher” picked up the pace, landing a knockdown and taking down his opponent. However, Kawajiri was unable to do enough damage to bridge the deficit, and Kitaoka emerged with a split-decision triumph.

Elsewhere, Mikuru Asakura made it one for the highlight reel, as he leveled Takeshi Inoue with a huge knee to earn a knockout victory 2:39 into the second round of their catch-weight affair.

Asakura made it look easy from the beginning, as he countered Inoue’s first leg kick with a big straight punch. From then on, Inoue appeared to be very hesitant and almost everything Asakura threw was connecting. In the second round, Asakuru backed Inoue into the corner and finished his foe with a picture perfect left knee.

Earlier, Asakura’s younger brother, Kai Asakura, was also able to get in the win column with a strong performance against Korean fighter Jae Hoon Moon. In a back-and-forth fight, Moon had his moments, but Asakura was able to consistently land takedowns and move to back control to secure the win on all three judges’ scorecards.

In a match that might have been stopped too early, Kana Watanabe needed just 11 seconds to remain unbeaten in her pro career with a TKO of Shizuka Sugiyama. Sugiyama quickly backed Watanabe into the corner, but the judoka was able to clip her opponent with two straight rights. Those blows put Sugiyama on her back, and referee Hirokazu Takamoto quickly intervened to halt the contest. A distraught Sugiyam was only left to argue what might have been.

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