Manel Kape got revenge at Rizin 20 by finishing Kai Asakura and obtaining the vacant bantamweight title in the highly anticipated clash between two rivals to end the night and the year.

There was not much of a feeling-out process at the beginning of the opening round in the Saitama Super Arena. Both individuals were landing clean shots and displaying different parts of their arsenal.

Asakura favored punches to the body to set up the head while Kape mixed in takedown attempts with kicks to stay unpredictable. Going back to the corner after the first, both fighters needed to make some adjustments and it was the Angolan who adapted quicker.

Manel Kape punches Kai Asakura

Relentless punches

Soon after the bell to start the second frame, Kape blasted a right hand that had Asakura on his backside. Kape swarmed instantly but his opponent got up and momentarily it looked like he was going to survive.

But Kane was relentless and kept on punching until referee Jason Herzog was forced to step in and stop the fight. He improves to 15-4 and claims the bantamweight strap that Kyoji Horiguchi relinquished a few weeks ago.

Kane and Horiguchi look likely to rematch in 2020 when the Japanese icon recovers from knee surgery. Asakura drops to 14-2 after losing for only the second time in his career and sees an impressive six-fight win streak snapped.

Manel Kape winner

Close contest

Continuing with the theme of revenge, earlier in the night UFC veteran Ham Seo Hee took out Ayaka Hamasaki and picked up the Rizin super atomweight title in the process.

The third match between two of the best female fighters in the world was a close contest with waves of dominance from both sides. The first round was a stand up battle with Ham and Hamasaki landing punishing combinations.

Even though it was such a tightly contested round, Hamasaki seemed to do a little more. The second stanza clearly went to Ham who was able to lock down a triangle choke and land crushing elbows.

Seo Hee Ham

Roles reversed

The roles were reversed in the third with Hamasaki finishing the round in side control, peppering her adversary with light punches. Both hung on in dangerous positions but it was Ham who looked to have come closest to finishing the fight.

In the end, Ham (23-8) swayed two of the three judges and adds the Rizin super atomweight belt to her Road FC atomweight title with this split decision win. The South Korean reigns over two promotions and the future is full of possibilities.

Hamasaki (19-3), on the other hand, loses for the first time since 2017, right before she joined the promotion. She is in no way past her prime and a fourth matchup could be on deck after such a closely contested fight.

Rizin 20, Tokyo, December 31st
Manel Kape def. Kai Asakura via TKO (Punches) at 0:38 of Round 2 (Wins Bantamweight title)
Seo Hee Ham def. Ayaka Hamasaki via Decision (Split) (Wins super atomweight title)
Mikuru Asakura def. John Teixeira via Decision (Unanimous)
Rena Kubota def. Lindsey VanZandt via TKO (corner stoppage) at 4:42 of Round 3
Tofiq Musaev def. Patricky Freire via Decision (Unanimous) (Wins lightweight tournament)
Jiri Prochazka def. C.B. Dollaway by KO (Punch) at 1:05 of Round One
Simon Biyong def. Vitaly Shemetov by TKO (Submission to Punches) at 0:58 of Round Two
Hiromasa Ogikubo def. Shintaro Ishiwatari by Decision (Split)
Jake Heun def. Satoshi Ishii by TKO (Punches) at 1:12 of Round One
Patrick Mix def. Yuki Motoya by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:37 of Round One
Taiju Shiratori def. Taiga by TKO (Cut) at 3:00 of Round Two
Miyuu Yamamoto def. Suwanan Boonsorn by Decision (Unanimous)
Patricky Freire def. Luiz Gustavo by TKO (Punches and Soccer Kick) at 0:28 of Round One
Tofiq Musayev def. Johnny Case by TKO (Punches) at 2:47 of Round One