Kai Asakura secured another convincing first round victory at Rizin 24. The Japanese star followed up on his brilliant bantamweight title win last month with another strong performance as he outclassed Shoji Maruyama with a first-round TKO at the Saitama Super Arena on Sunday.
It was a quick turnaround for the Japanese star, who put away Hiromasa Ogikubo in similar fashion at Rizin 23. Despite taking this non-title fight at short notice, it was an encounter Asakura was highly fancied to win.
The 26-year-old still got the job done in style and delivered a striking clinic. Having looked calm and confident from the outset, the champ fired off a clean left-right combination that dropped Maruyama to the canvas with 2.30 left in the round.
With his opponent primed for the taking, the champ secured his victory with a soccer kick, just as he did in his last outing. That win takes his record to 16-2 while Shoji Maruyama fell to 18-13.
In the main event, Tenshin Nasukawa produced an all-action display against Koji to secure an entertaining win via unanimous decision. The 22-year-old proved to be on a different level to his opponent from bell to bell and always appeared to be one step ahead.
The vast array of weapons in the young star’s arsenal is quite remarkable. Although he wasn’t able to find a finish, he did manage to land his jab with ease and constantly sought to do damage with the use of a flying knee.
Elsewhere, Rena Kubota returned to action for the first time since New Year’s Eve and was able to grind out a unanimous decision victory over former Deep-Jewels atomweight champion, Emi Tomimatsu.
The 29-year-old established her striking superiority in the first round but was forced to fend off a rear-naked choke attempt in the second.
Tomimatsu, who came into the bout with a 15-16 record, had some good moments in the third as well and landed some big knees to Kubota’s face. She recovered well though and landed a strong left hand before seeking to lock in a kimura from the North South position.
The Shoot Boxing star went on to end the match with a flourish, landing an authoritative stomp right before the bell. The win takes Kubota’s record to 11-3. After the fight she stated her plans to retire after ‘two or three more fights’ and redeclared her interest in a match with super atomweight champion, Seo Hee Ham.