Mikuru Asakura gets another crack at Yutaka Saito this Friday. The former Shooto champion might have beaten him once but he certainly hasn’t humbled him.

Asakura sounds extremely confident heading into the rematch at Rizin 33,

“Saito is a pretty weak person but when it comes to the big stage he gets stronger. It’s been a year since I’ve been in there with Saito, but both of us have gotten stronger and I think it’s going to be a great encounter.”

Rizin FF

Biggest night

This will be the third year in a row that Asakura has fought on New year’s Eve. He has never lost on this date but knows just how significant an event it is on the combat sport calendar in Japan,

“I think New Year’s Eve is the biggest night for the Japanese combat sports scene. I’ve fought Saito once but I believe we’re both totally different fighters now (and) I promise you a fun fight.”

It has been a disappointing year by Asakura’s high standards. He won two fights out of three but was submitted in the second round by Kleber Koike Erbst at Rizin 26.

He also lost his final fight of 2020 but believes he is continuing to evolve and improve,

“I’ve developed my submission skills, I’m a different person from a year ago.”

Rizin FF

Successful siblings 

There is a lot of hype behind the Asakura brothers. By and large they have lived up to it but here have been some major setbacks for both.

Kai Asakura is hoping to win two fights out of two on Friday and be crowned the Rizin bantamweight Grand Prix champion. His older brother would settle for a second straight win and is looking forwards to renewing acquaintances with an old foe,

“I already acknowledged Saito’s ability. Let’s get to know each other again.”