Hamasaki, Yamamoto, Tenshin score wins at Rizin 16
The main event fight capped off the mixed martial arts portion of the card as Rizin continues to cross promote with other organizations in similar fashion to current bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi defeating Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell last year.
This fight pitted two of the best super atomweights in the world against each other and both fighters showed a ton of respect for each other over the course of this three round battle.
Hamasaki and Frey each struggled to show much aggression through the first two rounds of the fight as neither wanted to give an inch in the exchanges on the feet.
Frey concentrated on damaging Hamasaki’s lead leg with a series of kicks but she failed to really let her hands go while doing her best to avoid the top notch grappling from her Japanese opponent.
In return, Hamasaki was firing off boxing combinations and while she wasn’t hitting the target all that often, she definitely connected with more damaging blows in the early part of the fight.
The turning point and arguably the moment that earned Hamasaki the win came in the third and final round when she secured a well-timed throw to take Frey down to the ground.
Once Hamasaki brought the fight down into her world on the mat, she was suffocating with top control as Frey could only defend from the bottom and hope she could make it back to the feet.
While Hamasaki didn’t do a ton of damage, she stifled every attempt that Frey tried to slip free of her grip as she continued to pepper away with short shots whenever she was given enough space to throw punches or elbows.
In the end, the judges felt that the champion had done enough to earn the victory as she was awarded the unanimous decision. Hamasaki (18-2) has now won her past four fights in a row including a championship win last December before defending her title against Frey (8-4) on Sunday in Japan.
Highly touted prospect Kanna Asakura once again faced struggles in her latest bout as she fell to Miyuu Yamamoto in a featured atomweight bout on the undercard.
Asakura had made a lot of waves after joining the Rizin roster where she rattled off five straight wins before earning a shot at the inaugural super atomweight title last year.
She ultimately suffered an armbar loss to Hamasaki before then picking up a win in Deep and then making her return to Rizin on Sunday.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better for Asakura in her return as she fell to Yamamoto in a three round decision.
While the fight was close throughout the first two rounds, Asakura’s powerful grappling game ended up backfiring on two separate occasions that likely cost her the fight.
The first came towards the end of the second round when she rushed forward with a takedown attempt that was thwarted by Yamamoto and it ended with the 21-year old Japanese superstar on the bottom defending shots from her opponent.
A similar sequence happened in the third round after another takedown attempt from Asakura that was reversed by Yamamoto with a guillotine choke attempt.
Asakura was able to escape the submission but she was unable to get free of Yamamoto and instead spent the majority of the round defending from the bottom. Asakura did make several attempts at submissions but Yamamoto was quick to snuff them out while maintaining her powerful control on top.
As expected when the fight was over, Yamamoto (5-3) earned the unanimous decision victory, which will now earn her a shot at the Rizin super atomweight championship when she faces Hamasaki (14-4) later this year.
Highlight reel finish
In the final fight of the night Tenshin Nasukawa took on Martin Blanco in a kickboxing contest. The unheralded Argentinian accepted the fight at late notice and looked completely out of his depth.
Tenshin ruthlessly targeted his opponent’s liver and Blanco even dropped his elbow to try and defend the area. It was to no avail as the Japanese fighter drove a devastating knee to the midsection early in the second stanza.
With the win Tenshin claims the lightly regarded ISKA 126lbs title.