Kyoji Horiguchi had to wait over a year to get his hands on Kai Asakura after suffering a shocking knockout defeat to him at Rizin 18 and he more than made up for lost time.
At Rizin 26 in the famed Saitama Super Arena, the long-awaited rematch between Horiguchi and Asakura was over almost as quickly as their first fight, but it was the former who prevailed this time around.
It was all Horiguchi during their sub-three minutes of fight time.
The former dual-Bellator and Rizin bantamweight champion was aggressive from the outset, attacking punching combinations and leg kicks while the rangier Asakura was more than happy to engage in a firefight up close.
Those strikes to the legs paid dividends for Horiguchi. One caught Asakura on the way in and led to the Rizin bantamweight champion dropping to one knee. When he was back up on his two feet, he was visibly limping around in the ring in an effort to shake off the pain and regain his footing.
Horiguchi smelled blood and continued to try and attack those legs and swing with wild haymakers to score an early finish.
Asakura tried to fire back with a flying knee which narrowly missed the mark, striking Horiguchi’s shoulder instead. That action came at a price as Horiguchi was able to land a number of punches to send Asakura down on the canvas as the two tangled in the pocket.
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Horiguchi followed up with punches to the downed Asakura and the referee stepped in to call a stop to the contest – awarding the former a win over the man who knocked him out in 2019 and the Rizin bantamweight championship to boot.
In the night’s other title fight, Ayaka Hamasaki won the vacant Rizin Women’s Super Atomweight championship after defeating Miyuu Yamamoto.
Hamasaki snatched Rizin gold in emphatic style with a quick submission – a rare head scissors choke – inside two minutes against Yamamoto.
Elsewhere, the aforementioned Askaura’s brother Mikuru knocked out Satoshi Yamasu with a devastating head kick, while Tenshin Nasukawa and Takanori Gomi also scored victories in respective kickboxing and special rules bouts.
Rizin 26 – Saitama: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Kai Asukara full results
Rizin Bantamweight Championship: Kyoji Horiguchi def. Kai Asakura (c) by TKO (punches) at 2:48 of round one
Catchweight – Kickboxing: Tenshin Nasukawa def. Kumandoi Petcharoenvit by unanimous decision after three rounds
Catchweight: Mikuru Asakura def. Satoshi Yamasu by KO (head kick and punches) at 4:20 of round one
Catchweight – Special standing bout rules: Takanori Gomi def. Koji Tanaka by majority decision after three rounds
Rizin Women’s Super Atomweight Championship: Ayaka Hamasaki def. Miyuu Yamamoto by submission (head scissors choke) at 1:42 of round one
Bantamweight: Naoki Inoue def. Yuki Motoya by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:00 of round one
Catchweight: Kleber Koike Erbst def. Kyle Aguon by technical submission (brabo choke) at 4:21 of round one
Catchweight: Kyohei Hagiwara def. Ren Hiramoto by TKO (corner stoppage) at 1:29 of round two
Bantamweight: Hideo Tokoro def. Shinobu Ota by submission (armbar) at 2:23 of round two
Catchweight – Kickboxing: Nadaka Yoshinari def. Phetmalai Phetjaroenvit by KO (Elbow) at 2:19 of round two
Bantamweight: Ulka Sasaki def. Kenta Takizawa by unanimous decision after three rounds
Women’s Super Atomweight: Kanna Asakura def. Ai Shimizu by unanimous decision after three rounds
Openweight – Special rules: Atsushi Saito def. Hiroya Kawabe by submission (armbar) at 6:00 of round two – Overturned by Rizin officials, was originally a Draw
Catchweight: Kazuma Kuramoto def. Taiyo Nakahara by KO (soccer kicks) at 2:12 of round one
Heavyweight: Tsuyoshi Sudario def. Ikuhisa Minowa by TKO (leg injury and punches) at 3:17 of round one
Women’s Catchweight: Sakura Mori def. Eru Takebayashi by submission (armbar) at 1:37 of round one – later declared a No Contest due to Mori missing weight by 1.7 kg.