Kai Asakura has met with Dana White. He posted a photo of the two men posing together alongside a caption that says simply ‘something amazing is happening’:

Training trip

Asakura is currently in Las Vegas. Earlier this week he posted a photo of himself training at local gym Syndicate MMA alongside UFC bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili.

He is one of the biggest stars on the Rizin roster. But Asakura has not fought since New Year’s Eve when he was surprisingly beaten by Hiromasa Ougikubo in the final of the bantamweight Grand Prix.

Rizin would be extremely reluctant to let Asakura leave. But the Japanese promotion has been known to allow fighter contracts to elapse, it happened with Kyoji Horiguchi who went on to sign with Bellator.

Bantamweight star

Asakura really made his name by beating Horiguchi in a non title bout in 2019. It was a massive upset at the time but the following year he lost the rematch, which did have the belt on the line.

Horiguchi would subsequently vacate the title in order to sign for Bellator. Asakura went on to win the title but fell short in his efforts to win the promotion’s bantamweight Grand Prix, losing to Ougikubo in the final.

His popularity goes well beyond the realm of MMA though. His YouTube channel has over 1 million subscribers and Asakura is a major social media star.

His brother is even more popular. Mikuru Asakura has over 2mn YouTube subscribers and and is one of the top fighters in Rizin’s featherweight division although he has never managed to capture the title.

Busy year

Asakura fought four times last year but has not been in action since losing in the bantamweight Grand Prix final on December 31st. It is unclear whether he is taking a break, waiting to be offered a fight or out of contract.

If it is the latter then the sight of one of his biggest starts rubbing shoulders with Dana White is sure to make Nobuyuki Sakakibara a nervous man. The UFC has very few Japanese fighters on the roster at present although Tatsuro Taira will be making his octagon debut this weekend.

Meanwhile Rizin does not currently have an event booked although Sakakibara will be co-promoting ‘The Match’ on June 19th at the Tokyo Dome. The all kickboxing card will be headlined by the long awaited fight between Tenshin Nasukawa and Takeru.

But Rizin doesn’t appear to have any plans to promote MMA cards in the coming months. That could leave fighters like Asakura in hiatus and the 28 year old appears to be exploring his options!