It sounds like Mikuru Asakura might make a good promoter one day. Nobuyuki Sakakibara spoke in a recent episode of Rizin Confessions about how sophisticated the featherweight’s understanding of the MMA business was.

So he didn’t have to try too hard to persuade Asukara to accept a matchup with Vugar Keramov at Super Rizin 2. It wasn’t the fight that the 31 year old originally wanted but he understood why it needed to happen,

“I actually wanted Kleber but Rizin needs me in order to fill the arena so fighting the best out there made sense. I always look at it from a promoters point of view, what matchup makes the most sense,” Asakura told Rizin Confessions.

Legit opponent

Asakura might have wanted Kleber but he definitely didn’t want to face Ren Hiramoto. Sakakibara actually offered him that fight but he turned it down,

“About a week after the Ushiku fight I was sitting down with Sakakibara and he asked me to fight Hiramoto, but for me Hiramoto wasn’t it.”

With a 2-3 record Hiramoto would have been one of the more winnable fights out there for Asukara. The same could not be said of Keramov who has 17 wins to his name.

He is coming off a stoppage win over Yoshinori Horie at Rizin 41 and it sounds like Asakura was impressed,

“I’ve been training with Horie for a while so I know how good he is. He has heavy hips so for Keramov to rake him down repeatedly and finish him… I think he’s legit.”

Unexpected opportunity

Super Rizin 1 took place last September. It was headlined by the exhibition boxing match between Asakura and Floyd Mayweather with the Japanese fighter getting stopped in the second round.

There wasn’t much chance of Asakura beating the best boxer of the century and he admits to only accepting the fight reluctantly,

“I wasn’t too keen on fighting Mayweather to begin with but who would turn it down?”

While he might have been stopped it certainly helped to cement Asakura’s status as one of the biggest stars on the Rizin roster. He has been handed an unexpected title shot at Super Rizin 2 with Koike Kleber having been stripped of the title after missing weight.

Asakura could finally win the Rizin featherweight title this Saturday but sounds more concerned about avenging his 2021 loss to Kleber,

“I don’t care if its a title fight or not. My goal is to win and fight Kleber next.”

It is difficult to believe Asakura doesn’t care about winning the belt. But there is bound to be a big crowd at the Saitama Super Arena on Saturday and many of them will be there to see the astute 31 year old who understands the business he is in better than most.