Mikuru Asakura extended his winning streak to three and underlined his title credentials with a decision win over former featherweight champion Juntaro Ushiku at Rizin landmark 5 yesterday. It was his first fight back since being stopped by Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition boxing match last year.
In this battle between two southpaws Asakura looked to land the straight left right from the opening bell. He followed up with an axe kick attempt and Ushiku decided to pull guard.
Ushiku couldn’t do anything off his back and the referee eventually stood them up. Asakura scored with a left kick to the body while the former champion attempted a spinning back elbow which narrowly missed.
At the start of the second round Ushiku looked to catch a body kick from Asakura but his opponent wiggled free. He then ate a left hand to the body and jumped guard again.
Once again a stalemate ensued on the ground and the referee stood them up. Asakura was able to score with more knees and elbows before the end of the round.
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Ushiku jumped guard immediately at the start of the third round. He couldn’t get the fight down but was finally able to time a knee from Asakura and secure a single leg.
Ushiku briefly had the back but he was too low down to get a grip on Asakura’s neck and his opponent simply stood up and waited for the referee to separate them. They briefly traded punches before the former champion completed a double leg takedown.
He was able to keep Asakura on his back until the final seconds of the fight. No sooner had the referee stood them up than the bell sounded to finish the contest.
With Ushiku unable to secure any submissions or do any damage while on the ground the superior striking of Asakura was clearly the difference. All three judges saw it that way and he improves to 17-3 while his opponent drops to 22-10-1.
Asakura wins a unanimous decision win over Ushiku in our main event!
— RIZIN FF English (@rizin_English) April 29, 2023
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The c0-main event also went the distance. Former featherweight champion Yutaka Saito (21-7-2) scored a split decision win over kickboxer turned mixed martial artist Ren Hiramoto (2-3).