Follow The Fight Library on social media!
It was August of 2019. Kai Asakura as but a blip on the fight week radar of that of Kyoji Horiguchi. Horiguchi was picked by 99% of fans on Tapology, with a paltry 1% taking Asakura. Then, just over a minute into the fight, Asakura silenced all of the doubters and shocked the world by knocking out Horiguchi. Many regarded that as a fluke. And four months later, Asakura was to lay the discussion to rest that he was truly the best. Then, Horiguchi blew his ACL and was forced out of the match. Finally, a year and a pandemic later, Asakura and Horiguchi meet again, this time at RIZIN 26, and will lay everything to rest with the bantamweight belt on the line.
When we talked to Kai’s brother, Mikuru Asakura, he told us of his story of how he started fighting in mixed martial arts.
It was an extension from fighting in the streets. I was just looking for excitement was introduced to an underground organization called ‘The Outsider.’Mikuru Asakura to The Fight Library, 12/11/2020
It was Mikuru’s fighting that got Kai Asakura involved in fighting as well, and with the encouragement of his brother, he began perusing it professionally.
“My brother invited me to a street fight against him and told me I’m a natural and should start going to a gym. So I did.”
In the first fight with Horiguchi, the belt was not on the line. That second fight was to have the championship attached to it. But when Horiguchi was hurt, he vacated the RIZIN and Bellator bantamweight belts, and Asakura took on Manel Kape for the vacant title. Asakura did not win that fight but he insists that is simply part of a mixed martial artist’s journey.
“It was disappointing but it’s also part of the sport. I refocused on my fight against Kape.” When asked if he wanted that fight back somehow, some day, Kai Asakura absolutely wants to get it back. He says, “I want that revenge for sure.”
The Rivalry: Kai Asakura and Kyoji Horiguchi
After more than a year’s time, we get to see the two go at it once again. But, Kai Asakura reflects on their first fight and the lead in to the fight. He isn’t resentful of the pre-fight discounting of his skills. Instead, Asakura is thankful that he was given the chance to beat someone so respected in the MMA community as Horiguchi.
“Before the fight people were saying there was no chance for me in winning. But I was ecstatic that I was able to prove them wrong. And I am very proud to have beaten such a respected name in the sport.”
Since the first fight, Kai Asakura has fought four times. He believes that will serve him well leading into the second fight with Kyoji Horiguchi at RIZIN 26.
“I think it will definitely be an advantage,” says Asakura. “I was able to fight 4 times and kept adjusting my game and have continued to evolve during the time he was sitting.”
So why tune in? All the RIZIN fans already know why. This bout is going to be fireworks (New Year’s Eve pun absolutely intended). But don’t take it from me, Kai Asakura himself.
“I’ll introduce you all to the most tense atmosphere you can possibly imagine. A definition of ‘do not blink’ will be showcased in my fight so please watch the fight live.”
RIZIN 26 is the biggest card of the year for the promotion. Recently announced, the promotion will have English commentary on LiveNOW! In addition to Kai Asakura and Kyoji Horiguchi headlining, get a load of some of the names that are on the card: Ayaka Hamasaki, Miyuu Yamamoto, Mikuru Asakura, Ulka Sasaki, Koji, Takanori Gomi and most recently announced: Tenshin Nasukawa versus Kumandoi Phetjaroenvit.