Kai Asakura was able to overcome the odds by scoring a shocking upset victory over one of the best bantamweights on the planet today in a non-title bout.
Asakura amazingly made quick work of compatriot Kyoji Horiguchi in the main event of Rizin 18, which took place at the Dolphins Arena in Nagoya today.
Horiguchi, the Rizin and Bellator bantamweight titleholder, was stunned by Asakura with a leaping knee to the chin in the opening moments of the match.
Seeing Horiguchi on wobbly legs, Asakura swarmed on the champion as he started to swing a series of staggering punches and then hurt him once more with a second jumping knee to the jaw.
Asakura dropped Horiguchi with a right straight and then rained down a volley of punishing blows that compelled the referee to intervene and call a halt to the contest at 1:08 of the first round.
With his astounding performance against Horiguchi, Asakura improves his standing to 13-1 and is now riding high on a five-fight winning streak.
The victory also made a strong case for Asakura to challenge Horiguchi for the Rizin bantamweight title in a rematch later this year or in early 2020.
Meanwhile, Horiguchi tastes his first setback since 2015. The loss also snaps his remarkable 13-bout victory parade. His record now stands at 28-3.
In the co-main event of the evening, Ayaka Hamasaki (19-2) extended her winning streak to five matches by making Thailand’s Suwanan Boonsorn (3-2) submit in the very first round.
Hailed as the No.1-ranked atomweight in the world today, Hamasaki had to squeeze herself through the eye of a needle to get her hand raised in triumph as Boonsorn put up a gallant effort to break the Japanese’s mystique of dominance in the division.
Hamasaki needed to fend off her foe’s suffocating advances on the mat, putting herself in danger as she left her back exposed.
A boisterous scramble on the ground enabled her to pull a limb for an armbar submission, which forced Boonsorn to wave the white flag.
Best of the rest
In other matches, Portuguese combatant Manel Kape (14-4) authored a highlight-reel knockout victory, stopping former WEC title challenger Takeya Mizugaki (23-14) in the second round of their bantamweight clash.
Kape finished the task at hand by rocking Mizugaki with a thunderous uppercut before quickly sidestepping in order to clobber a strong right straight to the jaw to lay him flat on his back.
Meanwhile, Nagoya-based Brazilian striker Danilo Zanolini pulled off a surprising win at Rizin 18. He denied Australian legend John Wayne Parr his 100th career win with a split decision victory.
In addition, UFC veteran Justin Scoggins (12-6) arrested his four-fight losing skid and picked up his first win under the Rizin banner. He defeated Japan’s Kazuma Sone (23-19) by way of unanimous decision.
Rizin 18, Nagoya, August 18th
Kai Asakura def. Kyoji Horiguchi via TKO (Punches) in R1
Ayaka Hamasaki def. Suwanan Boonsorn via Submission (Armbar) in R1
Victor Henry def. Trent Girdham via Submission (Reverse Triangle Choke) in R2
Manel Kape def. Takeya Mizugaki via KO (Punch) in R2
Haruo Ochi vs. Jarred Brooks ends in No Contest
Hiroto Uesako def. Yves Landu via TKO (Punches) in R2
Justin Scoggins def. Kazuma Sone via Decision (Unanimous)
Takaki Soya def. Yutaro Muramoto via TKO (Punches) in R2
Ai Shimizu def. Tabatha Ann Watkins via Decision (Unanimous)
Kickboxing: Danilo Zanolini def. John Wayne Parr via Decision (Split)
Kickboxing: Kazuki Osaki def. Takiya Shota via Decision (Unanimous)
Kickboxing: Ryuji Horio def. Uchu Sakurai via Decision (Unanimous)