Rizin Fighting Federation bantamweight champion Kai Asakura was simply too much for Shoji Maruyama.
Though his belt wasn’t on the line, Asakura was nonetheless in prime form in the Rizin 24 headliner on Sunday, as he defeated Maruyama via technical knockout 2:37 into Round 1 of their non-title affair at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Asakura has now been victorious in eight of nine appearances within the Japanese promotion.
Asakura took control from the outset, tagging Maruyama with a variety of punches and kicks before dropping his opponent with a one-two combination. As Maruyama attempted to hustle to his feet, the Tri-Force Akasaka product rocked his man with a soccer kick, forcing referee Yauhiro Tazawa to step in and wave off the bout. It was Asakura’s second consecutive victory by way of soccer kicks; he stopped Hiromasa Ougikubo with the maneuver at Rizin 23 on Aug. 10.
In the card’s official main event, kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa improved to 36-0 in that realm with a unanimous decision triumph over Koji Tanaka. Nasukawa unloaded with punching combinations, kicks to the head and body and flying knees but was unable to put his durable adversary away, although he did open a cut over Tanaka’s left eye during the performance.
Meanwhile, Deep lightweight champion Koji Takeda emerged with a split-decision triumph against Shooto lightweight king Yuki Kawana in a matchup of champions from other organizations. The contest featured plenty of spirited exchanges on the feet — including a wild sprint to the finish in Round 3 — but a finish never arrived as Takeda was successful in his first Rizin appearance.
In other action: Takasuke Kume took a split verdict over Satoru Kitaoka at lightweight; Kenta Takizawa garnered a split-decision triumph against Yuto Hokamura at bantamweight; Rena Kubota outpointed Emi Tomimatsu in a strawweight tilt; Takahiro Ashida used a triangle hammer lock to dispatch Kyohei Hagiwara 4:25 into the opening round at featherweight; Tsuyoshi Sudario scored a doctor stoppage of Dylan James 3:00 into Round 1 due to a broken nose at heavyweight and Juri Ohara captured a split decision over Yusuke Yachi at lightweight.