Kai Asakura believes he is destined to win the Rizin bantamweight tournament. But he does not feel that  he is getting the respect he deserves.

Former champion Kyoji Horiguchi is among those tipping Naoki Inoue to win the Grand Prix and Asakura finds this disrespectful,

“I’m annoyed that I’m taken lightly. I’ll win and prove them all wrong.”

Kai Asakura punches Alan Yamaniha 2

Rizin FF

Easy draw

He is facing Kenta Takizawa in the semi final at Rizin 33 and could not hide his delight at getting an ‘easy’ draw,

“I honestly think I got the easiest matchup for the semi final.”

He squeezed past Alan Yamaniha in the quarter final but says there were extenuating circumstances. Asakura broke his hand in the first round of that fight but says it won’t be an issue this weekend,

“My hand is completely healed I predict the fight will end early. I’ll finish him with a KO.”

Kai Asakura punches Alan Yamaniha

Rizin FF

Several holes

Takizawa accused Asakura of looking nervous but the former Rizin bantamweight champion shrugged this off,

“Hes got the wrong idea. I don’t think he’s got the brightest mind.”

Takizawa was not among the favourites when the 16 man lineup was announced and Asakura wants to show that the two men are not on the same level,

“I will show that we’re not even in the same ball park. I studied him a lot after the fight was confirmed and found several holes. I have several moves that I can land on him.”

Kai Asakura and Alan Yamaniha

Rizin FF

Better overall 

Takizawa thinks he can hurt Asakura and believes this is a good matchup for him. The former champion sees things differently,

“Takizawa is probably confident in his striking but there’s a difference between us. I’m much faster. I hit harder and I’m more technical. I have better grappling, im just better overall.”

But this is the biggest fight of his opponent’s life and Asakura knows how motivated the Pancrase veteran will be,

“He is more motivated to beat me than to win the tournament so he will bring it all into this fight. Im not going to take him lightly.”

Asakura has fought on the last two Rizin year end events. He has lost on both occasions and does not have happy memories of New Year’s Eve. It is a cycle he is desperate to break and the 28 year old knows exactly how he wants to end 2021,

“I really want to end the year with happy tears this time. With a big smile.”