When Yusuke Yachi directed his career path to Rizin a couple of years ago, he seemed to be a diamond in the rough for the then-startup organization that sought to carve its name as a major player in the sport of MMA around the globe.

However, the luster of his billing as a promising lightweight in the Asian MMA scene has slightly lost its beam after dropping two pivotal matches in a row.

Yachi proved to be a valuable recruit in his first few assignments under the promotion’s banner, knocking out the likes of Mario Sismundo and Daron Cruickshank in the first round before pulling off a huge win over seasoned veteran Satoru Kitaoka by way of second-round stoppage.

Winning run

His series of triumphs did not stop there as the 29-year-old native of Tokyo, Japan further bolstered his profile with a first-round submission of former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi in December 2017. He then edged out ex-UFC and Bellator fighter Diego Nunes via razor-thin split decision five months later.

Yachi’s winning streak made him a strong contender in the company’s stacked lightweight division, but his upward trajectory came to a screeching halt when he failed to deliver the goods in his last two bouts.

Late replacement Luiz Gustavo knocked him out cold with a single punch in the second round of their August 2018 encounter. Meanwhile, a gruesome cut in his eye cost him the fight against American stalwart Johnny Case at Rizin 14.

Passionate crowd

Determined to break his two-bout losing skid, Yachi returns to action this Sunday, July 28 in the main event of Rizin 17, where he battles Mikuru Asakura in front of a passionate crowd at the iconic Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.

“I am motivated to win this fight because I lost my last two. My goal is to win, and it keeps me focused and driven for this fight,” he said through his translator.

Yachi believes that he is in a must-win situation against Asakura as another loss could pull him out of the planned Rizin Lightweight World Grand Prix this coming October.

“It feels like I’ve been losing forever already. But this is my chance to prove that no one stays on the losing side. I need this win for my career and for my future in this promotion,” he stated.

Fully confident

Yachi is fully convinced that he has the right set of skills to beat Asakura, but he refused to downplay his opponent’s abilities as a fighter.

Originally fighting as a featherweight, Asakura has won four-straight wins in Rizin, including a unanimous decision victory over Gustavo last April.

“He is a kind of fighter who is willing to put everything on the line to win. That makes him dangerous. He is someone who just comes to fight,” Yachi shared.

Yachi sees loopholes in his foe’s overall game, which he will try to expose in their ring meeting on Sunday.

“I would like to take advantage of his lapses inside the ring. I’ve seen some of it in the past. I am looking to capitalize on it. You will see it on fight night. I guarantee,” he sternly warned.

Hungry to win

His back may be against the wall this time around, but Yachi is confident that all things will be in his favor once more if he picks up the win.

“If he is hungry to win, I’m more motivated and determined to win this fight,” he declared.

“I am giving everything for this fight to make sure that I walk out victorious.”