RIZIN 23 results: Kai Asakura wins title with first-round soccer-kick KO

Kai Asakura is the new RIZIN bantamweight champion. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Much like the first show on Sunday, the second leg of the RIZIN post-pandemic doubleheader featured a series of highlight-reel finishes in Yokohama, Japan, and finally crowned Kai Asakura the bantamweight king.

With the 135-pound division left without a champion after Manel Kape signed with the UFC, Asakura took on Hiromasa Ougikubo in the headlining attraction of RIZIN 23 and finally put his hands on the gold.

After knocking out then-champion Kyoji Horiguchi in a non-title bout back in 2019 and then coming up short in his first title bout versus Manel Kape four months later, Asakura put on a flawless performance against Ougikubo on Monday.

Asakura opened the bout with precise strikes to the body before hurting him with an uppercut. The finishing sequence started with another uppercut to the chin that connected flush on the former Shooto champion and The Ultimate Fighter veteran, and this time Asakura kept the pressure by connecting a jumping knee and a pair of soccer kick to claim the victory — and the belt.

Yuki Motoya had some slick finishes in his highlight reel in the past, such as leg scissor and sleeper chokes, and added another stoppage to his resume in the co-main event of RIZIN 23.

After staying on their feet most of the match, Motoya seized the opportunity after Uoi got off balance for brief moment during a while exchange in the final round, jumping guard as soon as he had one arm under Uoi’s chin and eventually forcing him to tap to a guillotine.

Motoya, who had an incredible 15-1-0-1 run between 2013 and 2018 before an uncomfortable 0-3 skid in 2019, is now on a two-fight streak after a decision over Takafumi Otsuka under the DEEP banner in March and the Monday’s submission in Yokohama.

RIZIN featherweight newcomer Yutaka Saito scored a vicious knockout to move to 18-4-2 as a professional and end Kazumasa Majima unbeaten six-year run in the Asian circuit.

Majima shot for a takedown from too afar, allowing Saito to take a single step back and fire a vicious soccer kick that connected flush. Saito proceeded to land a couple more soccer kicks followed by a trio of knees to the head until the referee finally stopped the bout less than 30 seconds into the second stanza.

Interim DEEP flyweight champion Makoto Takahashi also made a statement in his promotional debut versus Seiichiro Ito. Entering the RIZIN ring for the first time as a 10-1-1 pro with a dozen decisions, 20-year-old “Shinryu” scored his first MMA finish with style, catching Ito mid-air with a guillotine choke after a flying knee attempt to improve to 5-0 since his lone loss in April 2018.

In the early MMA portion of the card, Jin Aoi got another winning streak going by defeating former ONE Championship lightweight titleholder via decision in a featherweight bout, while Tatsuki Saomoto stopped Yusaku Nakamura with punches in the first round to move to 15-2 in the sport.

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