Kyoji Horiguchi recaptured the bantamweight belt with a spectacular display on his comeback from injury as he stunned Kai Asakura in round one at Rizin 26 tonight. The event took place at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.

Horiguchi spent 15 months on the sidelines after sustaining an ACL injury. He was last seen in action losing to Asakura at Rizin 18 in August 2019, the first defeat of his post UFC career.

In his first title defence Asakura, who defeated Hiromasa Ougikubo to claim the vacant title at Rizin 23, looked to be feeling the effects of repeated low kicks from Horiguchi. The former champion immediately targeted the leg which drew jeers from the crowd.

Right hands

Asakura appeared to lose composure and Horiguchi pressed forward and sent the defending champion down with a brace of right hands before finishing him with two shots on the ground before the referee had seen enough. The finish came at the 2:47 mark.

With the win Horiguchi regains the Rizin bantamweight belt and improves to 29-3. Asakura drops to 16-3 after losing for the first time in over a year.

Routine victory

In the co-main event Tenshin Nasukawa registered routine victory after a professional display against respected Thai fighter Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit in a kickboxing bout.

A left hook sent Kumandoi down in the second although no count was given. Tenshin was on the receiving end of some solid body kicks but was able to counter with punching combinations that became increasingly effective in the closing exchanges.

Tenshin, like the 10,000 strong crowd which was limited due to Covid-19 restrictions, craved a highlight reel finish but Kumandoi looked determined to make it to the end intact. He was in survival mode in the final round but held his nerve to see out the fight with the Japanese star claiming a clear cut decision win.

Ahead of the contest, K-1 star Takeru was shown on the big screen at ringside. A fight between Tenshin and the K-1 star has been the subject of much speculation and his presence at the Saitama Super Arena suggests it is a match which could be made in 2021.

Best of the rest

Mikuru Asakura (14-2) got the superstar Asakura siblings off to a winning start by demolishing Satoshi Yamasu (11-6) in the opening round of their MMA contest. He landed a strong left hand and followed up with a left high kick which sent his foe to the canvas and the bout was waved off with 40 seconds left in the first round.

The first title fight of the evening saw Ayaka Hamasaki (21-3) become a two-time Rizin super atomweight champion as she defeated Miyuu Yamamoto (6-5) to win the vacant title. Hamasaki locked up Yamamoto with a head scissors choke while also working for a kimura and then an armbar and the Fighting Queen Bee had no choice but to submit.

Former UFC fighter Naoki Inoue (15-2) rushed to victory over Yuki Motoya (26-9) via a rear naked choke in the first round of their bantamweight bout to increase his winning streak to four bouts. Motoya had won all three of his previous bouts in 2020.

Rizin 26, Tokyo, December 31st
Kyoji Horiguchi def. Kai Asakura by TKO (Punches) at 2:48 of Round 1 (Wins bantamweight title)
Kickboxing: Tenshin Nasukawa def. Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit by unanimous decision
Mikuru Asakura def. Satoshi Yamasu by Knockout (Head kick and punch) at 4:20 of Round 1
Boxing: Takanori Gomi def. Kouzi by Decision (Majority)
Ayaka Hamasaki def. Miyuu Yamamoto by Submission (Leg-Scissor Choke) at 1:42 of Round 1 (Wins vacant super atomweight title)
Naoki Inoue def. Yuki Motoya by Submission (Rear-naked choke) at 3:00 of Round 1
Kleber Koike Erbst def. Kyle Aguon by Submission (Brabo choke) at 4:22 of Round 1
Kyohei Hagiwara def. Ren Hiramoto by TKO (Punches) at 1:29 of Round 2
Hideo Tokoro def. Shinobu Ota by Submission (Armbar) at 2:45 of Round 2
Kickboxing: Yoshinari Nadaka def. Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit by TKO (Three knockdowns) at 2:20 of Round 1
Ulka Sasaki def. Kenta Takizawa by unanimous decision
Kanna Asakura def. Ai Shimizu by unanimous decision
Mixed Rules: Shibatar def. Hiroya Kawabe by Submission (Armbar)*
Kazuma Kuramoto def. Taiyo Nakahara by TKO (Punches) at 2:12 of Round 1
Tsuyoshi Sudario def. Ikuhisa Minowa by TKO (Leg Kicks and Punches) at 3:19 of Round 1
Sakura Mori def. Eru Takebayashi by Submission (Armbar) at 1:37 of Round 1

*Ruled a draw but result overturned