Hiromasa Ougikubo wins Rizin bantamweight tournament
Ougikubo came into the tournament as an underdog and was not expected to progress beyond the semi final stage. But he survived a torrid first round to outpoint Naoki Inoue and earn a fight against Asakura in the main event.
For his part Asakura cruised to a fairly comfortable decision win over Kenta Takizawa, although he did eat some solid shots in the process. Ougikubo was not expected to fare much better against the former bantamweight king but he thought fearlessly to claim a clear cut decision win.
Pushing the pace
They traded low kicks at the start of the fight but it was Ougikubo pushing the pace. He completed a single leg takedown and set about softening Asakura up with some punches and elbows.
With just over a minute remaining in the round Ougikubo moves into mount and took Asakura’s back. The former champion bounced straight back up again but ate some knees to the legs as the round ended.
At the start of the second stanza Ougikubo was switching stance. He landed with a left hook and straight right and dropped for another single leg.
Ougikubo landed a right hand on the break and continued to push for takedowns. A right hand connected and he finally put Asakura on his back towards the end of the round, landing a glancing soccer kick to his downed opponent.
The veteran forced Asakura to spend virtually the entire third round defending takedowns. Ougikubo was relentless and when the bell sounded there was no question as to who the winner would be.
With the win Ougikubo improves to 25-5-5, extends his winning streak to five, avenges his loss to Asakura and wins the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix. His opponent drops to 19-4.
In the co-main event Yusuke Yachi displayed some impressive submission defence but was unable to mount any effective offence against Roberto de Souza. The Brazilian eventually found the finish after transitioning from a kimura to an armbar with 90 seconds remaining in the second round.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for de Souza who was left with blood streaming from his nose. But the Brazilian retained his lightweight title and called for a fight with newly crowned Bellator 155lbs king Patricky Freire.
De Souza improves to 13-1 and answers some questions about his durability after surviving a serious looking nose injury. Yachi drops to 23-12 after seeing his two fight winning streak snapped.
Best of the rest
There was a major upset in the super atomweight division with reigning champion Ayaka Hamasaki (23-4)beaten by promotional newcomer Seika Izawa (5-0) in a non title fight. Rena (12-4) also dropped a decision to Si Woo Park (6-4) in a second upset.
Tenshin Nasukawa‘s exhibition boxing match was entertaining but ultimately ended in a draw Takanori Gomi. The kickboxer showcased some slick movement in the opening round but decided to go toe to toe with the Pride veteran in the second stanza which made for some entertaining exchanges.