MMA superstar signs with UFC and will face a top 5 – Mixed Martial Arts

Asian MMA star Kai Asakura has vacated the RIZIN bantamweight title after announcing he would sign with the UFC.

Kai Asakura, one of Japan's most notable bantamweight stars, will now join the UFC. Asakura himself announced the news at RIZIN 47 this weekend, relinquishing his bantamweight title.

“I believe that thanks to RIZIN, I, who was originally a nobody, was recognized as a fighter, a martial artist, a man”Asakura told the crowd. “And last year, on New Year's Eve, it was Mr. Sakakibara who accepted my selfish request to go to the UFC without a single defense. I would like to thank Mr. Sakakibara from the bottom of my heart for his support. Thank you so much. »

“There is one regret, I lost three main events on New Year's Eve, but I also became champion twice,” Asakura said. “I love RIZIN and its fans. I will definitely become a champion in the UFC and I will bring fans from all over the world with me, so be sure to look forward to that. I hope you will continue to support me. » Alex Behunin from MMA Mania reports that the UFC is looking to book Asakura against a top-five ranked opponent for his debut.

MMA star joins UFC

Asakura joined RIZIN as a fighter with an 8-1 record in 2017. He has won six straight fights in the promotion, including victories over current UFC fighter Manel Kape, who will fight at the UFC 304, and former Bellator and RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi. Asakura and Kape then faced each other again, this time for the RIZIN bantamweight title, at RIZIN 20. Asakura was stopped in that fight, which took place on New Year's Eve 2019, but won KO Hiromasa Ougikubo at RIZIN 23 in August 2020 to win the title, which had become vacant again after Kape signed with the UFC.

After dropping the belt in his first defense, a rematch against Horiguchi, Asakura entered the 2021 RIZIN Bantamweight Grand Prix. He eliminated Shooto Watanabe, Alan Yamaniha and Kenta Takizawa during the tournament before losing in the final to Ougikubo. Asakura became a two-time RIZIN champion in his last fight, knocking out Juan Archuleta on New Year's Eve at RIZIN 45.

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