Kai Asakura faces Kenta Takizawa in the semi final of the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix. The former 135lbs champion came into the tournament as a favourite, is expected to win it and clearly expects to win it.

He made that clear in the Rizin 31 press conference yesterday with some disparaging remarks about Takizawa,

“I got the easiest opponent for the semi finals,” he said.

Kai Asakura punches Alan Yamaniha

Bare minimum

The two opponents to have beaten Asakura during his Rizin career are no longer on the roster. Manel Kape and Kyoji Horiguchi have both departed for pastures new.

It leaves Asakura as the biggest name in the bantamweight division and he sees winning the tournament as the ‘bare minimum’,

“Winning this tournament is the bare minimum for me. I will show why I am the favorite of this tournament and the difference between the other three fighters.”

Kai Asakura punishes Shooto Watanabe

Realistic target

It would be a major upset if Asakura was to lose to Takizawa. But his quarter final bout with Alan Yamaniha was close and competitive with the Brazilian slightly unfortunate not to get the decision nod.

The 28 year old certainly talks the talk. But at Saitama Super Arena on New Year’s Eve he will need to walk the walk and Asakura has made it clear that anything less than a tournament win would represent failure.

He has set himself a realistic sounding target but has also made it very clear that he expects to achieve it. Asakura’s confidence could be mistaken for complacency and Takizawa will be hoping to pull of the upset and make the former champion eat his words.