This week Mikuru Asakura admitted that he couldn’t remember his knockout loss to Ren Sugiyama, better known as Ya-Man. It is an experience that Tatsuya Kawajiri is all too familiar with.
Kawajiri fought for Pride, Strikeforce, ONE Championship, the UFC and Rizin during a career that spanned nearly two decades. The 45 year old is now retired but he had a very similar experience to Asakura.
Asakura is contemplating retirement after the knockout defeat and subsequent memory loss. Kawajiri shared a video on Twitter of his 2011 fight with Gilbert Melendez along with some advice that was presumably for Asakura,
“April 2011. My memory of that day still hasn’t returned. I didn’t realize that I had no memory, and about two years later I realized from a random conversation that I had no memory of that day at all. For a month after this fight, I didn’t do any exercise, I traveled, I didn’t touch martial arts, I did whatever I wanted. I want you to take it easy now.”
— 川尻達也tatsuya kawajiri (@CRUSHER_MMA) November 20, 2023
It sounds like Kawajiri thinks Asakura needs a break rather than a change of career. He might have taken some time off after losing on his Strikeforce debut but it didn’t derail his career.
Kawajiri was back in action three months later and embarked on a six fight winning streak, earning a UFC contract in the process. The message from the 50 fight veteran seems to be that memory loss isn’t necessarily career ending.
A medical professional might see things very differently. Asakura definitely doesn’t have as much wear and tear as Kawajiri, he has only competed as a professional 23 times including the exhibition boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
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Asakura will clearly be making a lot more money headlining Rizin events than Kawajiri did competing on UFC undercards. He earned $97,613 USD for the loss to Melendez at Strikeforce which was almost certainly a career high pay day.
Kawajiri earned $51,000 USD for his final UFC win. Asakura was reported to have made more than $1 million USD for the exhibition boxing match with Mayweather and is one of Rizin’s top earners, although the promotion doesn’t disclose purses.
Kawajiri’s idea of ‘taking it easy’ appears to be a month’s complete break before going straight into training camp. Asakura might have different ideas and only time will tell whether the 31 year old wants to continue his fighting career.