Vugar Karamov stunned the Saitama Super Arena on Sunday when he submitted hometown favourite Mikuru Asakura n the main event of Super Rizin 2. On a night when the promotion confirmed it would be putting on a card in his homeland the Azerbaijani became the new featherweight champion.
The Azaberjani fighter came into the bout riding a three fight winning streak which included a submission victory over Yoshinori Horie at Rizin 41. He is a teammate of former lightweight Grand Prix winner Tofiq Musayev.
Like his opponent, Asakura came into the bout with three straight wins under his belt. Alongside his brother Kai, the 31-year-old has become one of the faces of Rizin and famously fought Floyd Mayweather in a boxing exhibition last year.
Asakura is primarily a striker and quickly came unstuck against Maramov’s superior grappling here. There was very little action at the start of the contest as the pair engaged in an extended feeling-out process.
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All at sea
The visitor threw a side kick and a body kick to no avail as neither man landed anything meaningful in the first minute. The feints from Maramov had done their job though and he showcased a rapid-level change to pounce on the single leg.
Asakura resisted momentarily but was soon hauled to the canvas. Karamov then passed guard, and from mount he landed some brutal elbows before transitioning to the back.
The Japanese fighter was all at sea and found himself on the wrong end of a rear naked choke; tapping out with 2.20 gone in the fight. Karamov is crowned the new king of featherweight and extends his record to 19-4 while Asakura slides to 17-4.
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In the co-main event there was another upset for the local contingent as Juan Archuleta walked away with the vacant bantamweight belt. He is a former Bellator champion at 135lbs and took the strap here with a unanimous decision win over Hiromasa Ougikubo.
Archuleta has now won four fights in a row as his record climbs to 29-4. Ougikubo drops to 25-8-2 and has now lost three in a row since winning the bantamweight Grand Prix at Rizin 33.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Japanese fighters as Seika Izawa (11-0) defended the super atomweight belt by submitting Claire Lopez (8-5). She finished the French fighter with a ninja choke in the opening round.
The shock of the night came thanks to Chihiro Suzuki (11-3). The 24 year-old knocked out arguably Bellator’s greatest-ever fighter, Patricio Freire (35-7) in the first-round.