Kai Asakura feels like a king without a crown ahead of Rizin 20
Kai Asakura has done more than enough to earn a title shot. He believes he has already proven himself to be the best bantamweight on the Rizin roster.
In a span of less than two months, the 26-year-old native of Aichi, Japan has defeated two of the biggest and most established names in the highly competitive Japanese MMA scene.
Unbeaten in his last six fights under the Rizin banner, Asakura does not see how he is not already considered the top athlete in the organization’s 135lbs weight class.
“I’ve beaten them all since I joined Rizin in 2017. From the champion to the contenders, I’ve fought and beaten them. There’s no doubt that I am the best in Rizin right now. If they don’t agree, I am willing to prove it to them,” he said through his translator.
Unfortunately Asakura will be unable to challenge the champion in the ring, at least for the next year or so. The belt was not on the line in their first fight and Horiguchi was forced to pull out of the rematch after a knee injury which will sideline him for most of 2020.
Horiguchi has asked Rizin officials to revoke his status as the bantamweight champion, leaving Asakura as the uncrowned champion,
“It’s very unfortunate that Horiguchi had to withdraw from our second fight. But to tell you honestly, I feel like I am the champion now. I beat him a few months ago. Now that he is out of the picture, I am the champion now, but without the title,” he stated.
While some are expecting that the Japanese MMA company will promote Asakura as its official champion due to the fact that he owns an impressive victory over Horiguchi, the highly-touted prospect thinks otherwise and prefers to obtain the strap the right way,
“I want to fight for the title. I don’t want them (Rizin) to give it to me just like that. I want to prove that I deserve to become the champion and earn my respect as the new champion. As fighters, it is our rite of passage,” he shared.
“Let me fight someone and beat him for the title. Then I will become the official bantamweight champion of Rizin,” Asakura added.
The promotion has promised that Asakura will compete at Rizin 20 on New Year’s Eve. The identity of the opponent has yet to be determined but the vacant bantamweight title will be on the line.
Candidates who could step up to the plate include Shintaro Ishiwatari, Manel Kape, Victor Henry and Bellator’s Juan Archuleta while Tenshin Nasukawa would be the ideal opponent although that matchup remains an outside bet for multiple reasons.
For Asakura, it does not matter who Rizin puts in front of him on December 31st as long as it leads him to championship glory.
“I am still training. If they will be able to find a new guy to face me, my team and I are always ready. I will never turn down a title shot. I am here to take what’s rightfully mine,” he declared.