Kai Asakura isn’t slowing down after scoring one of the biggest upsets of 2019.
Asakura, who finished Rizin and Bellator bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi in just 68 seconds in a non-title bout on Aug. 18, is now set to return against another UFC veteran on Oct. 12, facing Ulka Sasaki in the main event of Rizin 19 in Osaka, Japan.
Asakura (13-1), who was expected to face Sasaki in April, is undefeated in five appearances inside the Rizin ring since 2017, capped off by the shocking win over Horiguchi. Sasaki (22-7-2) defeated Manel Kape in his Rizin debut, but then lost to Shintaro Ishiwatari via submission in July. Sasaki went 4-5 as a UFC fighter between 2014 and 2018.
“This card has been very tough to put together since Horiguchi is still under suspension and Tenshin (Nasukawa) injured his hand,” Rizin president Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated in a release. “Mikuru Asakura not being able to fight on this card due to injury also didn’t help us either. So I asked Kai Asakura to see if he could step up in an emergency situation and headline the October event, and he accepted.”
Asakura said “my plan was to to focus on the NYE event against Horiguchi for the RIZIN title, but Sakakibara told me about the situation on the card and asked me to save the event, and I believe with the given situation I am the only one that can save this card.”
“It is actually a great opportunity for me to rise up to the occasion and become the leader of Rizin,” he added. “I’m always ready and I always put on a great fight so I will be ready. I’m confident that I can beat him so this is the reason why I took the fight. He’s a great grappler, but that’s it, and he won’t be able to grapple with me.”
The Japanese promotion also announced a kickboxing match between Seiki Ueyama and Taisei Umei to the card at the Edion Arena in Osaka. According to the promotion, one last fight should be added to the event in the coming days.
Kai Asakura vs. Ulka Sasaki
Jiri Prochazka vs. Fabio Maldonado
Seo Hee Ham vs. Miyuu Yamamoto
Marcos de Souza vs. Keita Nakamura
Rena Kubota vs. Shawna Ram
Tofiq Musaev vs. Damien Brown (lightweight GP)
Johnny Case vs. Roberto Satoshi (lightweight GP)
Patricky Freire vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (lightweight GP)
Luiz Gustavo vs. Hiroto Uesako (lightweight GP)
Seiki Ueyama vs Taisei Umei (kickboxing)